“St. Bernard Pilot” – A Character Design Mini-Project. pt 1
The following “sketch concept” was developed through the use of a simple dice based, three column Brief Generator based around character design (I rolled 16, 19, and 3). These “brief generators” are fairly flexible in scope (depending on your interpretations) and even without “cheating” can throw up ideas you perhaps might not have ever explored if left to determine the starting points yourself. I also find they are a great way to discuss the “professional detachment” required of client/real world working with students.
Mini-projects and side projects are useful portfolio builders as well as a fundamental aspect of creative practice. They can be a refuge when other projects have hit an inertial rut, and they have the ability if developed and nurtured to grow beyond their “Box-file” or “side-project” role into something more rounded and viable.
So, with the starting point of “The Industrial Revolution”, “The Himalayas” and “A Physician”… I first I thought it best I did a little digging.
My first thought was “When the hell was that again?” As it turns out, it is roughly agreed to have occurred in Britain first and to delineate the period between 1760 and 1830(ish). I knew we where looking at early steam technology, and though steam-punk was clearly an option felt that I needed to avoid the somewhat cliched sub-genre imagery as a start point.
So I asked myself, what was going on at that point in and around the Himalayas?
Well between 1814-1816 there was the Anglo-Nepalese War. The British East India Company had been involved in a major border dispute with the Nepalese. The British expansionist and mercantile spirit was at odds with an expansionist/protectionist Nepalese attitude that wished to hold at arms length the British trade engines, “With the merchants come the musket and with the Bible comes the bayonet.”
So… what do we have so far?
Steam-powered, British East India Company insurgency into Nepal/The Himalaya, meeting the protected Tibetan culture… Oh, and it has to involve a doctor… The Himalayas are pretty cool, we have all the great H. Rider Haggard/Allan Quartermain/Ayesha stuff, that bar in Indiana Jones, Abominable Snowmen/Yeti’s, as well as the “beyul” or lost city/kings beneath the world stuff explored by Mike Mignola in parts of Hellboy/BRPD and Helfer/Baker in The Shadow, and mythical locations like Shambala/Shangri-La.*
* I’ve been facinated with this stuff since I was a kid, my father loved the films based on She and Lost Horizon, and weirdly this probably stemmed from the fact that my grandmother’s bungalow on the crossroads in the sleepy village of Hollym (the original now long gone) was actually called “Shangri-La”.
So do I make the physician a Brit’ Medic for the East India Co. or one of the Nepalese?
Well what if I get them both in there?
So my idea seemed to revolve around the idea of a lost East India Co. rescue doctor, who was attacked by a yeti which tore the arm off his steam-powered rescue vehicle, and having him rescued by Tibetan healers as they return to their hidden kingdom in the Himalayan Mountains.
With that I thought I’d start with some sketches of both this broad scenario as well as the vehicle design…
From their I worked up a detailed sketch of the steam-powered device.
…which led to me thinking about the logo for the organisation…
This made me think about other “rescue” services… and that’s where my naming of the steam-powered device came in… You might have noticed, on that detail sketch of the vehicle, the apocryphal brandy barrel.
From there I thought it best to sort out a proper set of rotations for the vehicles pilot.
…and the props he might carry.
…and then some character expression and portraits, and little wash of digital tone and colour.
Well, there is more work to do with the stuff above, but next guess I thought I’d take a look at the Tibetan healers… see Part 2.