Great Expectation – Pokemon Proposal

When I get asked to create something, for the most part, I tend to assume its because the person asking has some idea in their head they want realised, a cool concept they can’t quite bring to life by themselves perhaps or a thought they need solidifying. This can take you on fun and interesting journeys but once you have taken on the mission you start to realise there are expectations beyond those set out in the brief you must also meet, expectations that come from ingrained cultural trends, expectations people aren’t even aware they have since they are subconscious but if you were to leave them out they would know there was something missing.

Today’s story is one of meeting expectations, working digitally, and getting a rhino to sit.

So whats the brief?

Two Pokemon: A Drowzee is proposing to a Rhyhorn. The style should be more like the early anime than the modern designs. Two clear expectations then. The first a conscious desire to replicate a particular look, 1995 era cartoons in this case. The second the unconscious expectation of what a proposal should look like. Lets take them in order. Here’s the finalised background. Why have I painted the whole thing rather than only the areas that will be viable? That’s not really the right question. It should be. How would they have produced backgrounds back when they still used cells and paint?

Your going to have several layers of clear film. The top most layer is going to have the character on it, you could decided that on the lowest layer where your background will be painting the bits that are under the characters would be a waste of time, I mean no one will ever see them right?. Or you could look at it the other way. Why add back in the areas the character moves away from when you can draw the whole background once.

Well its the same thing with digital. Most drawing programs have layers, if i’m going to get that old fashioned feel I might as well take advantage of them. More importantly it means that if I decide to modify the figures in some way, make them smaller or move them about for example I’m not going to have to keep going back in and fixing the background,

The colour pallet for this piece is a bit of a mix. I’ve made sure to choose colours that match those the characters would have been originally but the background takes most of its cues from modern digital pallet. Did you know that when the show switched from analog to digital colour the staff were worried the fans wouldn’t accept the change? So worried in fact that they deliberately damaged the image quality with special filters. Over time they reduced the effect so by the time they removed it the audience had acclimatised to the new look. I mention this because while the brief was to create an old school feel the human brain is a fickle thing. They’ve been using the digital colours for over a decade now, colours which would have been chosen based on the paints they originally used. Subconsciously these are the colours you expect to see, the originals are the ones that wont look quite right. For another example go back and watch an early versions of the Simpsons, are those the colours you associate with the show?

Background painted its time to release the Pokemon.

Have you ever seen a rhino sit down? I can’t say I ever remember having done so either but luckily for me they can because I needed Ryhorn’s front legs free.

Have you ever seen someone propose? That’s more likely to be a yes but even if you haven’t I bet you can imagine the scene.

What did you imagine?

The man down on one knee holding out the ring? The woman with a look of surprise, hands moving subconsciously to protect her face or cover her mouth?

Yeah you and everyone else.

So that’s the scene that’s expected but how do we do that with one monster who doesn’t really have knees and another that stands on four legs?

We take liberties that’s how, the pose is more important than fake creatures anatomy. At least that’s what i thought until i started looking up reference material and found rhinos can sit down in a pose that’s much like that of a teddy bear.

That frees up the front end now on to Drowzee.

The designs of Pokemon have evolved over the years. Pikachu is the most obvious example starting out pudgy he’s slimmed down considerably. Luckily for me Drowzee hasn’t undergone quite as radical a change. He doesn’t really have knees in the original but we can use grass to disguise that we have added some. It’s a bit like those images where circles and other shapes obscure parts making your brain fill in the gaps with what it expects to see. More important is to fet the face right he used to have a more pronounced curve in his nose.

I’m painting the characters in a very similar way to  how they would have done back in the day. I create the lines then move on to painting the blocks of colour. It’s just I’ve done the lines in a vector drawing program so they scale to any size without loss of detail and I’m painting with colours that have an undo function if I mess anything up. I could have done the colouring in vectors too but to avoid too crisp and modern a look I decided it was best to stick with old fashioned pixels.

As for the choice of colours for the Mon’s. This time I will be pulling from the originals, they aren’t all that different to be honest perhaps a tad warmer, it’s more that there used to be more variation between scene and episodes because of noise on the film.

Thats actually the last piece of the puzzle. Once I’ve got the image finalised I’m going to want to add blur and noise to create that feel. Not too much though we don’t want to lose the detail. The filters that do this have been around almost as long as the drawing programs themselves, its certainly quicker than trying to get the same look using paper (Since, you know we are trying to imitate film)

Putting it all together the last expectation I need to meet is that this image might end up being used elsewhere. What if they want to use it as a wedding invite or on their website? If thats the case the text should really use a fancy curly font. A clean white boarder would also seem appropriate but a square image seems a tad uninspired.

To keep things interesting I go for a non standard edge to the image, making the white background feel more connected to the image by turning it into the silhouette of foreground grass and the edges of the trees This phase is really where working digitally saves time and opens up options. With access to almost limitless numbers of fonts (Don’t go to crazy) theres bound to be one that suits your project. Not only that but you can move them around and resize things until you get everything just right, I don’t envy the designers who used to have to build magazine layouts by hand.

When you think your finished you send it to them and hope you met all the expectations you needed to cover. Digitally, via email or message obviously. If you haven’t, well you have your file still, its easy enough to make changes.

Like I did to this post’s introduction. Originally I was going to concentrate on the working digitally side of things. By the end it was obvious it wouldn’t have met that expectation.

Thais all for today.. expect a more analog related post in the future.

mike-oke-pokemon-003d-final

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