When creating the story boards I was only focusing on key points in the story, so I focused on setting the scene, the transition, and then the new emotion at the end. Within this story I decided to add in another important character to assist within the transition within the monster, this was the bird who was trying to make a nest. I feel in the future this could be developed much further and more in-depth, giving the bird a separate story line before coming in to contact with the character. With this story the starting concept is ‘melancholy’, which is a prolonged sadness without cause. This emotion mirrors some of the issues faced by those suffering with depression. In my narrative I tried to describe some of the ways depression makes you feel, but when I develop this narrative further in the future, I feel I could create more references to symptoms of depression, perhaps going through a day with the monster and seeing the types of tasks he struggles with daily. As with my previous narrative, the end of this storyboard is certainly not the end of the story. The way I have approached these storyboards is getting down the main concepts for the development of the character; this way just this part of the story could be developed in more depth later on, or the narrative could be extended to progress the story after the emotional change has happened. This story has vast room to grow and become something really meaningful, particularly in regards to depression, which excites me to get it underway for MA Project.
When beginning to approach writing a short narrative for the character, I limited myself to six key points. This made me focus on which details were the most important. It also stopped me from writing a long-winded story before properly planning out the narrative and themes. Within this story there are human beings involved, which may be too close to reality in a story which deals with such strong subjects. It could be a possibility in the future to design a race close to humans to use within this narrative, in-order to make sure there is no realistic tragedies within the story. Throughout the development of this character, when I knew he was going to have claws, I felt a connection to him scratching in to himself. This had both a strong visual impact, with the glowing lava being shown in the scratch marks, and a strong emotional impact, making links with self-harm. Self-harming is a topic that is hard to address as many people perceive it to be ‘stupid’ or ‘attention seeking’. Perhaps using a monster I could communicate why people self-harm and how it makes them feel. Self-harm in response to feelings of guilt is something closely linked with anxiety. This narrative I have created is very sad, and I feel it definitely needs to be developed further in order to address the topics within in a sensitive and thorough manner. It would be interesting to incorporate the monster beginning to cope with his feelings of guilt in a healthier way later on in the story; these could be suggestions for real-life self-harmers to try.
With the forest monster it was nice to work with transition from a sad emotion into a happy one; it felt more positive. However, I know it is important to use both in my designs as it is realistic to show that things can go down as well as up. With this character I felt he really fit my style of drawing and thus his design was very successful. For the change between the ‘melancholy’ and ‘nurturing’ states I used slight colour variations; by taking the colours from the ‘nurturing’ state and adding lighter grey tones, it created a gloomy feel, and caused the wood to look dry and dead. One of my favourite things about this character’s design was that the changes were subtle, but the progression could be seen extremely clearly. Although the design has creepy elements, such as skeletal forms, I feel the style of the drawings and small details in the features have softened his appearance, creating a character that is easy to connect with. In terms of the concept I feel it is strong, but this may be perhaps be as it based around themes which have already been experimented with; i.e. using trees and plants to represent emotional growth. However, what I feel will set this design apart is the narrative behind the character, and how he begins to become ‘nurturing’. Although this is only the second set of fully digital drawings I have created, I feel the progression within my skills has already improved dramatically. These character drawings feel as though they are closer to being a final character than my previous monster. I definitely want to pursue this character and his narrative in MA Project.
As the volcano monster began to become a fully realised design I noticed colour was very important. I needed to create the look of lava underneath rock, and then adapt the colour of the lava based upon his emotional state. Using the brighter reds and yellows associated with boiling lava worked well for his ‘curious’ state, where as using a subtler orange, and an orange brown during his ‘guilty’ state created the effect the lava was beginning to cool. Another important detail was that he was no longer spouting lava, instead I added smoke/steam above his head to indicate a recently hot fire. What was interesting about this design was that the colour red which is usually associated with danger, is actually what represents a positive state for this character. This is mirrored again in that we as humans would feel that a dormant volcano, as he is in his ‘guilty’ state is more positive to us, however when he is freely erupting that is when this character is most content. In terms of the concept I am very happy with this character as I feel his core designed features are strong. It would be easy to adapt this character to create a whole family of these creatures that could be involved in a story, by tweaking the body shape and facial features. I feel this design could be improved upon if the execution of the drawing itself was improved upon. However, I know this is something that I will get better with over time, and if I wish to continue on with the design of this character, the more repetitive drawings I create of him, the more refined the images will become.
The second combination of ideas I got from my idea generation activity was Forest, Melancholy, Nurturing, Wings and Feet. My initial idea is to have a creature that grows as it begins to transition into the nurturing emotion. As feet is one of the key words I am interested in having both the feet and hands as roots which are growing in to the ground, I have not decided if this would make the monster stationary or not. I definitely want to experiment with the transition of colours with this monster, as the colour of wood and leaves changes throughout its life cycle.
The first combination I got for my idea generation was Volcano, Curious, Guilt, Claws, and Arms. My initial ideas are based around a monster who is made of volcanic rock, and is an active volcano. The transition from curiosity to guilt could be based up a ‘curiosity killed the cat’ type of story. This transition will cause the volcano monster to become dormant, and perhaps turn in to a stationary being as the lava solidifies. I am interested in using the claws in a way that is interesting, such as him developing them as a result of becoming a sold form.
At this point I wanted to start refining what I was creating, including the quality of the images, and the stories behind the creatures. In order to give myself interesting starting points I created an idea generation activity which would help me to build a mythological creature from scratch. As I still wanted to focus on a transition I made lists of positive and negative emotions which the characters would embody at different points within their story. To help with physical characteristics, I listed a number of body parts and features which I would try and focus on for the creature, and I used two of these for each selection. I also created a list of locations where the mythological creature could originate from, in order to help shape the colours and textures of the characters. When generating these mythological creatures, I wanted to make sure the story associated with their transition was a huge part of their design. Creating this activity really helped to progress my project, as I felt that I was beginning to get stuck in similar repetitive processes. Using random selections also forced me to need to be more creative and take more design risks, as I wasn’t just using my natural train of thought to pair an emotion with a certain physical characteristic that I felt matched. This activity was amazingly helpful, and I only feel it could have been pushed further by having a number of similar activities with slightly different selection groups.
At this point I wanted to focus on the concept of developing evil that I had been interested in earlier on in my project. Instead of starting from scratch I used mythological monsters, and designed their good or evil counterparts. With these transitions I picked up on certain things that I was repeatedly changing. I noticed I was using many religious references when trying to making the characters ‘good’; however, I am unsure if this just happened to work for the creatures I had selected. A lot of the visual transition was based around softening the character, for example in the Minotaur I changed the gender to female, significantly reducing the muscle mass of the creature and thus making the creature appear more delicate.
When making creatures more ‘evil’ I changed the colours to be darker, and their features to be creepier. With the ‘good to evil’ transitions I felt like the characters I was designing had certain characteristics I had added purely to add to their scariness, where as with the ‘good’ transition characters there was much more scope of what it meant to be ‘good’ and thus I took more creative risks with those designs. I found my best outcomes from these two sets of experiments were the ones where I had a clear narrative in my head of who this new character was, and how the creature fit into their world. When developing characters in this way the responses have more context and automatically communicate a more realised character. I want to create more creatures from scratch, as I feel the freedom of those types of experiments allow me to create much better designs.
I wanted to start creating my own characters, instead of working with creatures that already existed. It was important for me to start experimenting with original designs, and I decided to choose a theme to base this around. I wanted to look at something that was a fairly wide topic so I could create a large volume of responses. I was also still interested in opposition and transition, so the ‘Seven Sins and Seven Virtues’ was a great topic to choose, and it had the scope to create fourteen different outcomes. What was interesting about this theme is that many people interpret these in different ways, people opinions on what is ‘sinful’ ranges vastly, and I was intrigued to see how my own views on the topic might influence my designs.
I really enjoyed creating the ‘sin’ monsters, as I felt there was a lot of related reference material to work with, and their aesthetics suited my drawing style, which is quite creepy and dark. I struggled more when creating designs for the ‘virtues’; perhaps this was because some of these are more abstract concepts and thus there is scope to interpret them in a number of ways. We are also surrounded by ‘sinful’ behaviour regularly so perhaps we are more in tune with these concepts than ‘virtuous’ ones. My favourite outcomes from this set of experiments were ‘Greed’ and ‘Envy’ (full drawings below); this was because I could imagine the storylines behind the characters. I could picture how they might fit into a fantasy narrative, and how they might move and talk. I would be interested in continuing to develop some of these monsters if their was a future narrative I felt they worked well with. However, I feel they definitely would need more work, as some of the designs are fairly shallow responses to the concepts. I now want to move onto creating original characters that cover a larger scope than a singular idea.