David Colman Recap
David Colman gave an engaging and energetic lecture on the intricacies of character design, then did a two-hour drawing demo of an original grizzly bear character.
During his lecture, David showed slides of many development projects he’d worked on, and talked about his process when working under the direction of a studio. He said that it’s always better to start with a very pushed design, and then rein the design back as needed. You’ll come away with more interesting characters, while also giving the studio what they’re asking for.
He also mentioned that he’s become known as “the animal guy” in the entertainment industry. Since he has a wide skill set, David was initially put off by being pigeonholed to animals. Over the years, as work keeps coming in, he’s come to enjoy being constantly called upon to create animal characters.
David’s wide skill set came into play on one job, when he was hired to do character designs, then was abruptly moved to the story department—something he’d previously had no experience with. Having strong foundation skills, like an understanding of composition and value structure, helped him make the transition. David also talked about the importance of putting a story into every sketch. Having a back-story will help you give your character a more interesting facial expression, lead to you to push the gesture more, and make your final drawing more engaging.
David started his drawing demo by doing a loose, gestural sketch, then putting another sheet of paper over that and refining the shapes. He kept holding the page up to the light and reversing it to make sure that his design was sound. Over and over, David stressed the importance of asymmetry in character design, in everything from the eyebrows to larger features like legs. Designing straights against curves whenever possible will always improve a design.
He also said, “Always go for clarity first, then cleverness after.” When asked, David cited J.C. Leyendecker, Heinrich Kley, and Honore Daumier as being some of his major influences.
While he was sketching, David continually referred to a page of grizzly bear reference photos. Even though he’s drawn bears many times, he said it was still important to make sure that he was getting the distinctive shapes of a bear—the hump on its back, the shape of its muzzle—correct so that the caricature would read properly. After arriving at a shape system he liked, David used a sheet of vellum for the final drawing. He was careful when putting in details like the fur to give it a sense of design, not just scribble in a rough edge to indicate fur.
David’s final drawing is below. It was raffled off to a lucky attendee, and David was kind enough to raffle several of his preliminary sketches as well.
After all that, David did a meet and greet with his fans while signing his new book, Animal Character Design: Grizzly Bears, and several prints.
We’d like to thank David, and everyone who came out to hear him speak. It was a fun afternoon, and another great event for Motivarti!
If you weren’t able to attend, you can still purchase one of the remaining limited edition prints David created exclusively for Motivarti. Click here, or go to the Prints section of our site.