Designing a Character

This guy’s been a pain in my ass for a while now, but I think I’ve finally arrived at a design I’m happy with.  But first let’s look at the line of progression that lead up to it.

Version 1 (actually version 2, but the previous version 1 became a different character). A bit too caveman.

Version 2: Cleaned up the face a bit to make him more civilized, and made his spear a crystal. Still not quite right though.

Final: Got all that extra detail off his face in place of a simple distinct scar on his nose.  Made him paler, and his fur pattern has a little more personality.  He looks like a young and brash character, while the cape and purple colors give him a leader like quality. though covered by the hair, he still has the sloping caveman forehead, but his mullet is now tied up helping him to look primal yet civilized.  Character design needs to be able to say a lot without being too busy.  That’s my philosophy of build a character then start refining it down.

Expect this guy to show up in chapter 11: Cave Tail

Superhero Costumes: Batman

Batman is another iconic costume design.  Interestingly enough, he was originally designed as a detective wearing a domino mask, and was little more than a knockoff of The Shadow at first, but his design was revised to the big batlike guy we know today before his story went to print.

Now when it comes to concealing identity, he’s not quite as thorough as Spiderman.  The bat costume has changed over the years, but it has the same basic elements.  The cowl, the cape, the dark suit, and the ears.  The cowl would become the standard for most superhero masks.  Previous heroes had typically used small domino masks that did little to conceal identity.  Batman went with a more hood like approach covering the upper half of his face, and only exposing his thick masculine jaw.  Later revisions added lenses to the cowl as well concealing his eye color.  The ears tend to shift lengths depending on the artist, but all serve the same basic purpose.  They don’t look much like a real bat’s ears do they?  No they have a more psychological purpose.  They resemble demon horns adding to Batman’s menacing appearance.

Batman’s cape serves several purposes.  It resembles a pair of wings adding to his winged demon bat motif.  It also obscures his movements, and adds to his mystery.  Furthermore as someone who fights from the shadows, Batman isn’t often seen very well, so the cape makes it even more difficult for someone to judge his height and build at a glance.

The suit its self probably changes more than the mask or the cape ever did.  The original was based on a circus acrobat and was focused on ease of movement, but over time Batman’s suit has changed to be more of a suit of armor protecting him from knives and bullets, but more importantly is something as simple as its color.  The bat suit is always dark either dark gray or black.  It serves much like his cape to obscure his movements in the shadows, and give shim a ninja like quality.

Batman proves to the the prototype and archetype for the dark hero character.  Others who’ve come since all borrow from Batman’s design (including my own character Nailbat).

Superhero costumes: Spiderman

When you think about it there are a lot of Superheroes and only a very few truly iconic costumes.  Almost everything else takes off from those.  Here are a few jumbled thoughts about them.

Spiderman has probably one of, if not THE very best costume for concealing his identity.  The costume covers his entire body, showing not one bit of flesh, and lenses cover his eyes.  There is nothing about Spiderman’s costume that can give away his identity.  No skin, hair, or even eyes show through.  You don’t know if he’s a black guy, a white guy, asian, Martian, or anything else.  The only thing the costume gives away is his build, which is lean and athletic like an acrobat.  And meanwhile Peter Parker tends to wear clothes that don’t really show off his physique.  He plays the wimpy guy, not wearing tight clothes or sleeveless shirts.  So even someone who knew him particularly well wouldn’t even make the distinction that he has the same build as Spiderman. 

Strangely at the same time his blue and red costume doesn’t really evoke the image of a spider.  Blue and red are powerful heroic colors, so in spite of the spiderweb overlay and the big spider symbol dead center, he doesn’t evoke the image of a big creepy predatory arachnid, which lends more to his playful bantering character, who takes advantage of villains underestimating him.  This provides complete contrast to another hero based on a traditionally creepy animal.


Another random sketch as Agent Wesson chambers a round.  I haven’t drawn him in a while so I took this opportunity to update his design.  His ears go straight up now, and he’s lankier and pointier than before like a hare should be.


Like most of the cast, Penelope has been through several design changes over the years, and evolved as my art style evolved with her.  One consistent piece of her design is the distinct forehead lock, which has stuck through all the revisions, and once included retained the right side curl.