Advanced Character Design with Stephen Silver, Part 5

This lesson was all about observation. Actually it was about drawing from reference, but the bulk of the time was spent watching Stephen watch other things and then draw them. That might sound boring to some, but I thought it was super fun.

He started with still photos, just drawing random people in random pictures. Then he moved to YouTube. The first video he pulled up was from Disney’s Sword in the Stone. He would pause the video at random moments and draw the characters on screen. Sometimes he would go for an exact likeness, other times he’d get the same pose, but change the character.

His video was sped up a bit so it looked like magic whenever he would pause and draw something amazing. I followed along, pausing his video and scribbling out my own version each time. I never stopped for more than two minutes, which forced me to try to find the essence of each image fast. The pace and variety kept it fun.

After Sword in the Stone he switched to sports. He drew some boxers and some sumo wrestlers—all from just random videos on YouTube. Again, sometimes they were exact likenesses, other times he turned them into animals or different people.

Our assignment was to draw someone from reference, which was easy enough—I just had to pick a person. I went with old school wrestler Captain Lou Albano. My 4 year old likes to watch the Super Mario Bros Super Show on Netflix. It’s a show that I loved back in the early 90s. Unfortunately it did not age well. It’s really terrible, but in a kind of great way.

So I took a screenshot of the episode where Lou Albano, who plays Mario, shows up as himself, with a bucket of chicken.

captain lou

I sketched out three iterations of Lou. The third one was my favorite (and that’s the one I turned in). You can click on these for larger versions. 

Here’s Stephen’s feedback. He didn’t have much to change, instead he offered some tips on how I could change up or iterate on my design.

I really like playing with the straight against curve style, and I’m super happy with this picture. I’m not sure it’s a style I would have explored before this class, and I’m really glad I did. Five lessons down, four more to go!