Finally to the point where I have to introduce an alien society to my story. The challenge is to come up with a design that feels otherworldly yet communicates human emotions. Plus, the design style must be just as "cartoony" as my central characters. Down the road, I'll have alien races that are nowhere near the "human in make-up" style design but, for now, I need a more relatable design and culture. I came down to two, very broad, types: birds and fish.
I'm intentionally not being literal in my interpretation. Beaks make expressing emotions more difficult but a feathery motif and claw hands are things I can apply to all sorts of character shapes. But then I did a gag drawing in a birthday card of a flying fish.
It's not that I looked at this drawing and thought, "Perfect!" It was looking at a bunch of fish drawings and photos. So I did more exploring. I also through in feather/quills where I felt like it. Although I guess they could be the fins of a Lionfish.
I also liked the idea of shamans or kachina dancers who wear some sort of hood that's larger than themselves. I'm in no rush to explain these guys until a story requires it. But I knew the drawing at the top of the post was too realistic for my cast. So I did more sketching.
I think the guy at the top of the left page has a nice mix of detail and cartoon. Some fish have plates that make up their faces which adds a design element. Again, I'm not doing hard science fiction here. The shape of the plates will be a matter of design and personality. Also above is a more exaggerated version of the hooded character. I like a layered look to the costuming. It gives a sense of culture. While waiting to be served lunch at an outdoor restaurant, I tried a lineup of different body shapes. What's important is not so much what I put down on the page as it is what is going through my mind.
So that's another glimpse into my creative process which is what this blog is supposed to be about.