Here, I’d like to take you along on one of my latest character design journeys. It was done as part of an art assessment test for a concept artist gig.
The character I was challenged to create was a diner waitress from a post-apocalyptic world. Tough, yet endearing. A friendly face whom wouldn’t hesitate to punch a few if need be.
For “attitude” and costume reference, I was pointed in the direction of …
Rose McGowen from Planet Terror, the girls of Sucker Punch, and Kat Dennings from 2 Broke Girls.
The proposed art style and proportions were to be more animated than realistic.
My first step was to establish a good point of reference for the face. I knew of a site called http://www.morphthing.com, where you could take two celebrity photos (or any you uploaded yourself) and fuse them together. I figured that I could get some interesting reference by trying out a few combinations.
I first experimented with two of the recommended sources: Rose McGowen and Kat Dennings. Their faces turned out to be similar enough that it didn’t really yield an interesting result. I ran numerous other variants by adding new faces to the mix, or in some cases removing a few. I tried out some of the “Sucker Punch” stars, but also threw in some personal choices here and there. There were about three that I settled on as my primary reference points.
Kat Dennings + Mila Kunis + Miranda Cosgrove
Kat Dennings + Vanessa Hudgens
Kat Dennings + Miranda Cosgrove
I was the most satisfied with Kat Dennings + Miranda Cosgrove. I believe the key was finding the right counter balance to the “don’t mess with me buddy” kind of look Dennings has.
Next, I moved on to hair styles. I gravitated towards something 50’s, since that era’s my primary association with diners. What I collected was mix of genuine 50’s examples as well as modern iterations.
Something with a pony-tail seemed to be the most economical for an action girl.
I also dig the silhouette of these.
I did consider alternate looks though.
I thought Hannah Dundee from “Cadillacs and Dinosaurs” would be a nice direction to go in. This is actually a good segue into my biggest task, the outfit.
I envisioned two paths to a “post-apocalyptic waitress” costume.
My first idea was to use McGowan’s Planet Terror get-up as a base,…..
…and infuse it with a “Kilt Girl”….
…and Hannah Dundee.
Perhaps even throwing in some “Roller Girl” touches.
My second idea was building off the more iconic diner dresses….
…then incorporating a little Sucker Punch.
Rocket’s outfit seemed to be the closest to how I’d image a post-apoc waitress to look. She even had an apron-like feature to the front of her dress.
Of course, I couldn’t think about a warrior woman from a post-apoc world without Mamiya of “Fist of the North Star” coming to mind.
Boots and waist-high belts seemed to be the common denominators between most of my reference, so I knew I wanted to incorporate those if possible.
I was curious if I could work Deborah Richter’s character from Cyborg (1989) in somehow. Though not especially distinctive, I locked in her footwear for my boots reference. It’d be a subtle little shout-out .
It wasn’t ALL about the boots though.
As time went on, I started leaning the heaviest towards the 2nd approach. To really sell the waitress aspect, I felt like I needed to preserve the collar in some form, or fashion. That lead me to think of A-ko’s battle outfit from Project A-ko: Uncivil Wars.
I saw this movie before I ever saw the original A-ko, so it’s my primary impression of her. I always liked the layering of her suit.
It had the exposed mid-drift element while also covering up enough to evoke a more formal uniform feel. It embodied both of my proposed design paths. A-ko swiftly became a big inspiration.
The color scheme was also pretty analogous with the “Two Broke Girls” diner dresses.
With my reference gumbo complete and rolling to a boil, I dug in with two big spoons.
These are just a small collection of the scores of sketches I did. As always, I fill pages up from top to bottom to get a design down. The more experiments I run, the closer I get to my “It’s alive!” moment.
The final result in living color!
I was pretty satisfied with it overall. I think I hit all the desired notes as best I could. It wound up being a bit closer to my initial approach, but I still get a good A-ko vibe from her.
I didn’t get the job in the end, but It’s always good to gain a new finished piece for my portfolio.
Thanks for eating at Lovin’ Jarful. Hope you got a good eyeful!