Meet Fatima and Fumo

Fatima and Fumo

My latest project is inviting some exciting new challenges in character design!  A quick project overview: my client, a humanitarian aid group working in the Central African Republic, asked me to illustrate and design a book that teaches children how avoid getting worms.  According to research, worms is a plight that effects 40% of all children in the country, and causes problems such as diarrhea, malnutrition, and stunted growth. This instructional booklet will teach 4th-6th graders how to avoid infection, stay clean, and help educate others.

So my part in all this?  I get to jump right into character design!  There are 5 characters in the story, but for now I’ve started with just two: Fatima, a girl, and Fumo, a boy.  Before I began I spent a lot of time looking at reference photos, noting facial structure, clothing patterns, hairdos, footwear, and expressions.

Brainstorming Sketch

Brainstorming Sketch

Next I made some scribbles in my journal.  I had no intention of these drawings making it into my final piece, they were just a way for me to get what I’m thinking out of my head onto paper.  When I get my ideas down it helps me move to the next step. This is a vital step because I must believe in my ideas before I move to my final piece.

Next I move on to my favorite part, where I design out the character’s look, feel, and personality.  The most important part at this stage is giving my character an interesting shape, or silhouette, as well as visual balance overall.  Notice how the arms move away from the body, and there is a slight tilt to the head and the shoulders. I’m also mindful of their clothes, the expression and body language. The best part of all, I can make as many ‘mistakes’ as I like because it’s not the final piece!

Fatima

Fatima

Fumo

Fumo

Finally I transfered my drawing to the computer, choose my color palette, and begin to do a black and white vector painting over my drawing in Adobe Illustrator. There are all sorts of ways to make colored cartoon with my graphics programs, but I settled on Illustrator as my program of choice.

Black and white drawing with palette.

I began coloring my characters, and chose different cultural patterns for their clothes. Someone also mentioned to me that generally only the wealthiest of Africans from this region have clothes that match, so I had the challenge of giving them loudly patterned clothes that still work in harmony. (or perhaps pleasing dissonance).

Fatima, with color fill before pattern.

Fatima, with color fill before pattern.

This of course is still a work in progress and I’ve yet to hear back from my client on their approval. However I hoped to share with you some of my process.

Fatima and Fumo

 

 

 

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8 Comments

  1. Naoma Clark

     /  September 2, 2011

    Mandy… what a treat to read and see how your process works in developing the characters. You might not know that our daughter, Susan, spent 3 years in Africa and I spent 3 weeks visiting her. So I noticed that you had it right with the flip flops as well as the clothing not matching but being very colorful. I think it would be a great idea for you and Robert to come down here for a weekend soon. We have a very nice guest room all set up and the drive from Indy shouldn’t even be all that long. I’d love to hear more about the book process or just spend time getting to know you better. Naoma

    Reply
  2. Grandma McDonald

     /  September 2, 2011

    Honey,

    You just amaze me!! What darling characters, just want to hug them. What a process that you go through, but it, certainly, pays off.

    Love you!!

    Reply
  3. Mandie these are great characters- there facials are just amazing and have so much life ln them- keep up the good work!!

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  4. I’m a huge fan of the flat hand-drawn patterns vs. the extremely tight gradients and facial structures. So cool (and I got to help a tiny bit)!!! 😀

    Reply
  5. Mandie! wow! they are so full of life, and character. i want to play with them! 😀

    Reply
  6. Willetta Edmiston

     /  September 27, 2011

    Amanda. Your grandma, Linda Penrod, told me about your website. I’m so happy she did. Fumo reminds me a lot of “Little Black Sambo”. Your other paintings are so beautiful. My daughter, Linda Dilling, just opened an art gallery in Pierceton. She’ll love the picture of the frogs. Keep up the good work.

    Reply
  7. Aunt Beth

     /  October 17, 2011

    Mandie! Love your characters for the African book! I haven’t been on your web page for awhile and was excited to see what you have been up to. Your art is so professional and polished. I can see you getting picked up for many high profile projects in the future. It’s been fun watching you develop and, boy, that ‘art’ gene runs really deep in you. Keep up the good work!!! Love ya!

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  8. Hey Mandie!

    I just got your email from house church and saw your website at the bottom so I came over to check it out. WOW!! I never expected to be so blown away (not that I didn’t think you’d be good but I didn’t know you’d be AMAZING!) You’ve truly got a gift!

    I hope next semester I’ll be able to attend house church again. This semester was a little insane!

    Have a great Christmas!

    Reply

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