Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Inventing a monkey

Telling stories is something I've enjoyed all my life. Even when I was really little I made up stories.  I like to create characters and creating a different kind of world. When I grew older I started telling my siblings the same story about a little monkey for years (with the same characters, but many different adventures) and somehow the characters from that story have been growing along with my siblings and me.

 In that story my siblings always demanded that the little monkey had to do something "crazy" or "scary" or "funny", but most importantly of all he had to be an adventurous monkey. Slowly a storyline started to grow in my head. This was also the moment where I knew I had to write a book with Tahira.

The most difficult part of creating the story was to actually give my characters a personality, and with this personality they also had to start looking unique. This is where I started searching for the perfect type of monkey.

Since there are lots of famous monkey chimpanzees (like Curious George, just to name one) I knew it couldn't be a chimpanzee. (Although they are so adorable too and actually my favorite monkeys!) I thought of a gorilla for some time but again I knew too many famous gorilla stories.

 This is when I started researching monkeys on the web (my eyes would spin at the end of the day, I felt like I was in the zoo, looking at all these crazy but cute animals). I browsed the web for quite some time, eager to find the sweetest looking monkey on the planet. Some of the monkeys I found looked quite strange and I always had a good laugh - for example this spectacled langur is hilarious:
And then came the day when I discovered the beautiful Colobus monkey - and once I read about him I realized he has so many interesting characteristics, beginning with their mixture of black and white, their white babies, their extreme love of leaves... I just felt like it was the right monkey to choose.

Once I discovered Colobus I realized how many animals exist out there- and I was completely oblivious! Such a beautiful and interesting creature, living out there in Africa, and I didn't even know it! Surely other people must feel the same way!

When I told TJ about finally having found the right monkey she was as excited and she immediately started researching the surroundings of the Colobus monkey. After that she even started sketching Colobus and when I saw her first sketch I knew I had found the perfect monkey.

 I think TJ also fell in love with Colobus- the minute she saw him. Just like me. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Character Design: Migwi

Ciao! TJ here!  

So the journey regarding the drawing element shall start with this post! I'm still at the beginning phase of the character design and I'm learning a lot and probably will learn a lot more the upcoming weeks. But if you stick around, you will see and read about it all.

First thing that I did? Lots and lots of research and I am still in the middle of this. As you know, the setting of the story is Africa as Migwi lives there. Africa is known for beautiful landscapes and many animals, but before I even look at this, I have to tackle the main character and capture his essence as a believable and fun character.
When Susanna first told me about the Colobus monkey, I didn’t know what type of monkey it was.  The fur is what struck me the most, so pretty. After googling a bit more, I fell in love with this little monkey, simply because it's not your typical monkey for a story (you can read a bit more about the Colobus monkey in the previous post).

However, creating a stable character to draw many times in different poses, isn't something I have done a lot so far, so it's a challenge. A fun one though. The drawings you see here, they have been drawn very quickly and normally I'd never show these to a big audience as they are just for myself to see to what extent I could capture what I had in my mind back then. Also to see what I find difficult and how detailed I want to go.
You know, the header monkey is the very first Migwi I drew and so far the favorite amongst many I know. The Migwi you see know, seems a bit older, but I didn't pay that much attention to the monkey in general.

I have to keep this in mind as baby Colobus monkeys are white and Miwgi isn't that young, but not that old either. Plus, I have to keep his parents in mind as well and...he has a baby sister.

So my tricky points so far are as following:
- The fur as the color palette is very limited, only black and white. For the monkey anyway.
- Making sure it doesn’t look like a skunk. Seriously.

Do enlarge the picture for a better view.

You will see the character change over time as I still haven't found my perfect Migwi. However I'll keep in mind how most people like the header Migwi! I probably ask you for advice as well ^_^

Till next post, everyone!