Thursday, April 18, 2013

Threadless challenge: TMNT

Threadless recently had a TMNT themed design contest that allowed artists to use ANY characters from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  I've had TMNT villains on the brain lately so the timing was perfect.  I went with Rocksteady and Bebop.

Threadless is pretty cool operation if you're an artist looking for some feedback.  See what resonates with people in your work.  The community is encouraged to score and leave comments on all the designs and since it's a contest, you can get some instant feedback from the masses.  Even if it's just a one-word exclamation ("Neat!") it's still pretty cool.  And I gotta say - a lot of memories have come flooding back just looking at all the submissions.  Some of the obscure characters and references crack me up!  Mondo Gecko never thought he'd be on a shirt!  I wish I thought up something for Krang!  Or the original NES game!

Anyway, I have these two Rocksteady and Bebop designs up for scoring for the next 5 days or so.  If ya like 'em, login and vote!  :)

Also, I gotta post some development/process pics.  Maybe some other Threadless folks would dig this  :)

Here's the usual slew of initial, embarrassing drawings as I search for shapes and fun ideas.  From this pile I liked 3 doodles/ideas and I developed 2 of them for the contest.

The first idea I latched on to was some sorta pose with Rocksteady and Bebop standing back to back.  These four rough sketches show me really looking for lines and shapes. Something with an interesting balance...hopefully.  You can see I was trying different arms and legs for the most part.  Doing some research on their weapons from the original toy line was fun!

I tightened up the last sketch and went to town "inking" and coloring in Photoshop.  You can see the  tighter sketch in (1).  You can see I also dropped in some red guidelines to show my thoughts a bit.  Toying with some parallel and perpendicular lines of sorts while still trying to maintain balance.  I really liked the idea of a hard line right down the middle that separated the two characters.  When I got into inking, however, my hand loosened up.  Rocksteady gained some subtle curves on his backside and that hardline sorta disappeared.  Hopefully the design sensibilities remained intact though.  In (4) I started to add in the upside down Foot logo.  It was a very loose idea in the sketch that I felt confident monkeying with in the computer.  It's sorta abstract and designy ("what are the standing on?  I pile of shells coming out of a giant foot hole???") and I wondered how people would interpret it.  Between (5) and (6) I made a couple subtle changes that I think helped it overall.  I colored Bebop's knife white to match Rocksteady's knife metal, and then I skewed it a bit more to the left.  And I also shrank Rocksteady's own knife a smidge.  With those tweaks I felt it became a little more center-balanced.  Previously I felt like Rocksteady was a tiny bit longer/wider/bigger than Bebop and I wanted them to feel pretty equal.

Once I posted my first image, I went right back to the drawing board to flesh out another take on the back-to-back pose.  This time I aimed for something tighter, cleaner - something vector in Flash.  You can compare this blue line doodle with the very first red line doodle up top.  When I'm in "vector mode" it's a little easier to push and pull lines in an attempt to find that appealing shape or flow.  I can stare at the screen for hours trying to find the right shape for Rocksteady's gut, but it's pretty satisfying in the end.  And then tomorrow I'll hate it - ha!  It's also very satisfying to spot fill colors quickly and easily in Flash.  I can come up with color schemes and start filling areas quickly to see if it's going to work.  No messy pixels.  I'm not sure where the Foot tattoo idea came from.  I think I just liked that these thugs are mindlessly loyal to Shredder and his gang and show it getting matching tattoos that "connect" when they stand back to back.

The contest deadline was over at this point, but I still had the urge to polish up one of the Rocksteady head heads that I liked.  I did sorta imagine his floating head on a shirt without the background stripe or text.  Just wasn't time, and really there wasn't a whole lot of thought put into it.  No matter though - I exercised my urge to draw plenty of mutant rhinos and warthogs.

Til next time!