1. Ideation + Sketching: When I first start a character design I like to make lists of potential ideas for characters. I also start rough sketching the ideas I like.
2. Multiple versions of one character: While sketching there will be one idea that I am drawn to, so when I have found which one I start to sketch multiple designs of that character.
3. Take character into Illustrator: Once I have stumbled upon a version of the character I like, I will scan it and go right into illustrator.
4. Play with color palette: Within Illustrator it's very easy to manipulate color, so this is a good time to slitify the characters color palette.
5. Take character to Photoshop and add texture: After I have made all my shapes in Illustrator I transfer them to Photoshop. This makes it easier for me to add textures and final touches. Once that is done so is my character design.
1. Pick a character design: It's always nice to start with a design to go from. It can be your own design or another character.
2. Make a pattern: I start off with looking at my own character design. Then I start to sketch out what that character would look like as a plush toy. Then from there start to make individual pieces of the pattern.
3. Trail and error: Even I go through many different patterns and figure out what is working and whats not. This step can take a while, but at the same time it's a good way of seeing how 3D objects are made.
4. Scan to Illustrator: Once the pattern works I scan them straight to Illustrator. This allows me to have full control that the pieces will be exact and to have clean shapes.
5. Finalize Pattern: While in Illustrator, I make all the pieces to the plush toy and manipulate the colors. I then format the, on a 56 x 36 inch template (1 yard for printing).
6. Print pattern with Spoonflower: After I have finished my plush toy patterns I upload them to Spoonflower. They print custom designs directly onto a wide range of fabrics, using a digital print process that uses eco-friendly, water-based pigment inks and dyes which produce very little waste. I use this site because a lot of my characters have gradients and Spoonflower prints exactly what I send them.
7. Cut out pieces and sew: Once my yard of fabric comes in the mail the next thing to do is cut out all the pieces. Again, this step is time consuming and there will be fur everywhere. After I have all my pieces it's time to sew them together.
8. Stuff pieces: When the body, tail and head are done it is time to stuff them. I use a stuffing called Perfect Loft, it is extremely soft and hypoallergenic.
9. Make final touches/ finished: The last step in the plush toy making process is to sew the stuffed pieces together and make any last minute touches. Then after all that hard work you finally have a plush toy!
Character Design, Frank the Demon Wolf
Character design has always been my favorite things to illustrate. There was a character that I created a few days before Halloween. In my figure drawing class “where I had to draw” from a real human skeleton (because our model didn’t show up again!). That day, for some reason, instead of drawing Ms. Bones, I created my own wolf character.
In the beginning stages, he had no name and at the time was just a doodle. Then a few months passed where I had the opportunity to bring him to life for a project in my Culture Marketplace class at PNCA in Portland.
I decided to do a character sheet and a pin up so I could explore different angles and versions of my character. When I finally landed on the final design, I felt on top of the world. I was so excited about this project, I managed to create him in just three weeks.
In this process, in the first week I did a lot of sketching and exploring so I could figure out every position of my character. While I was sketching, I was also looking to the internet for inspiration that included looking at a lot of wolf pictures for longer than I like to admit. While I was in my wolf image black hole, I started to research myths and wolf folklore in order to add more depth to my character.
Then during the second week, I finally gave him a name and backstory. Introducing Frank. He is caring and likes to help others. He loves to read romance novels (especially the ones with Fabio on the cover) and can speak fluently in Klingon.
The things that makes my characters super unique is that I give them names and origin stories that are both funny and charming. So in the character sheet I talk about where he lives and other interesting creatures he lives with.
During the last week I started finalizing all the pieces for my Frank character sheet. The most fun I had was making the pin up of Frank. I used Illustrator for the bigger shapes then moved into Photoshop to add the final details.
Looking at the final character sheet and pin up illustration, I’m very happy with how things turned out. I have been in love with this character since that first awkward drawing class and continue to use him for as many projects as I can to further his character, story, and design.
Here are some close up shots of the final image.