Beyond The Bramble: Character Design

Published July 18, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

A good friend of mine, Sarah Marie Bacavis, has also written a children’s book called Beyond The Bramble.

beyond the bramble cover sketch (1)

It’s a middle grade short novel (not a picture book) that is best classified as a children’s fantasy adventure story. The book is now nearing completion and is currently in a similar stage of production as mine; getting the first reader/first print copies made so she can get some feedback and send her book out to some literary agencies. The story is about an imaginative girl who goes with her dachshund puppy Annette to visit her grandparents, only to discover a hidden world inside of the overgrown bramble in their backyard. The book is also about, you guessed it, goblins!

To simplify things, the three main reasons why Sarah and I are friends in the first place are Glam Rock, goblins, and the internet. We both fairly active with our Deviantart accounts back in 2008/2009, and we sort of found each other through our artwork and our extreme affinity for this somewhat odd combination of subjects. Some major influences of ours included David Bowie, Marc Bolan, Alice Cooper, Cuddly Toys, Brian Froud (well all three of the Frouds, actually), Jim Henson, The Dark Crystal, The Labyrinth, and The NeverEnding Story. We later discovered that we had even more of the same influences in common that we had just never bothered to mention before. Maybe we’re just like one of those creative matches made in heaven, like Henson and Oz. Either way, it’s always a pretty amazing thing to chance meet a creative who is from your very same “planet.”

When Sarah asked me if I could help her with designing the characters from her book and then illustrating the cover art, I was more than happy to help. She already had drawn that idea for the cover and some sketches of three of the characters from the story. We decided that I would first help design the characters, and then do some more basic cover artwork for the first read copy. The first read copies will be be going to the printer very soon, so for time’s sake and to differentiate the first read edition from the more finalized text, we are going to go with a more simplified design for now.

So far I have completed the designs all three characters. First we have her sketches of a goblin named Sim Sala Pim, “but Pim is plenty.”

pimpage (1)

Here’s my pencil drawing:

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Inked:

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Colored:

Pim Design

Then we have her drawings of another goblin called Wilden.

wilden2 (2)

Here is my final design for Wilden (because I guess I forgot to take more work-in-progress pics again!)

Wilden Design

And last we have Coragrinn The Finder, a very scowly, grouchy, and somewhat pretentious junk collector goblin who spends most of his time digging through dirty garages.

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Coragrinn was by far the most difficult character to design. I actually had a feeling that he might be, so I ended up tackling this one first. The reason he was so difficult was probably because he has such a strong personality and needed to have a scowl that was just right. Sarah also had the most trouble envisioning this one and left her drawings very open to interpretation. I took a long while playing around with the shape of his face before I ever got started on the final design.

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As you can see from my sketches, I had pretty much decided from the beginning that he needed to have short, lopsided bangs and some very deep frown lines. I also decided that I liked him better with a taller forehead and a longer face, because it somehow made him look more intellectual but also a lot grumpier. Putting all of the things that I liked about the different face designs together, I then came up with this:

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Here is is all colored in (and yes, that is my sneaker!)

Coragrinn Design

That’s the design that I first ended up sending to Sarah. She loved his scowly face, and she said that he reminded her a little of Rabbit from Winnie The Pooh crossed with the Gallagher brothers of Oasis (a disturbing yet hilariously apt observation!) The term “Squidwardian” was also tossed around a bit when designing this guy. Ultimately the only major changes that Sarah wanted to make to this first design was to darken the coloration on his muzzle and feel to make him look even grungier, and to give him longer, gnarlier toes with claws more similar to those of a kangaroo. Since I am an old school traditional artist, a correction as minor as that just takes a little bit of creativity:

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Presto!

Coragrinn Second Version.jpg

After his “pedicure” was complete, I got the final approval from Sarah that he was at last “the perfect grouchy filthy hoarder” that she hoped he would be!

So that’s all I’ve got for the character designs. Next I will start work on the illustration for the first read cover, and I’ll be sure to post more about it in my next one!

 

 

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