Monday, April 28, 2008

Character Portrait: Lineart

Y'all are in for a treat. *g*

It's hard to describe how excited I was once we agreed on a pose and I was waiting for the lineart. Even knowing all the upcoming stages and how much more detail they would add, the lineart was still my first chance to really see my characters for the first time. I left my e-mail open all day at work, and I would compulsively check the bottom of my screen to see if any new messages had arrived.

That was one entire day and the better part of a second. At last, there they were! Some of you may remember the "SQUEEEEEEE" from Facebook, hehe. Here's the first thing I got from him, a "preview" if you will:

(All images copyright 2008 Jason Badower.)

It was close. It was very, very close. I couldn't put my finger on what was "off" about Alec until I realized he looked older than his 28 years. His nose was a little big and the lines on his forehead aged him. After some consultation with Jason (and more computer futzing by Jenny) we came to this version of their faces:

The only thing I asked him to change about Elspeth for this round was to make her lips smaller, and he did.

It's a funny thing about Elspeth. Alec...when I saw him, it was like "OMG, there he is. That's him exactly." I had a very definite mental image of him, even if I couldn't pin it down (see below). But Elspeth...for all that I could give you a full physical description, down to bra cup size, her image was much more nebulous in my head, and open to suggestion.

I mean, I'll admit, when I started writing I did want to give the heroine some of my physical characteristics, because there's something validating in reading a novel - especially a romance - in which you share traits with the MC. So I gave her brown hair and brown eyes and made her "real" - smaller breasts, larger bum - but other than that I never intended for her to be my twin. Once she laid claim to her name and became her own person, the distinction between her and me grew. Yet I still had a hard time differentiating the image of her in my head from my own personal image. Part of that was never finding a real-life counterpart (a la Martin Henderson for Alec) to stand in for her. So to a degree, I let Jason create her for me, and I'm pleased with the results.

As I told Jason, this whole process has been...well, really hard to describe - but in a good way. I *know* these characters; they've taken on a life of their own and they've been living in my head for almost 2 years. I know personality quirks, speech habits, family history and, yes, how they look. But trying to picture them in my head was like looking through a fog. The details were there, but they were obscured. It's only when I caught flashes of them (through pictures of actors, or what have you) that something "clicked" and I could hold that image in my head for a little bit.

I could never have drawn them or told someone else how to draw them (beyond what I put in the brief). But when Jason put it on (virtual) "paper" for me to see, it was like the fog rolled away and the image in my head crystallized to the point I could pick out "yes, yes, yes that's right...that bit seems a little off" and by process of elimination I could find what didn't click. Then I would ask for the little changes and when I got the revisions it was the AHA! moment and there were my characters looking out of the screen at me, and it's really them - not just some "close second" that has been as good as I could get.

Here is the completed lineart (from whence the face shot is cropped):

Again, I asked for just a few minor changes (shorten Alec's kilt, mainly, and make Elspeth's jeans full length) but will you LOOK at that DETAIL? *g* I was and have been constantly amazed at - and gratified by - Jason's attention to detail. I wanted Alec's clothing to be authentic to his period and it is, to quote the Smart Bitches, "like whoa and like damn!"

Next step: tones (in which they become 3-dimensional)...


NBB said...

This is AWESOME!

May I add, that in my subjective opinion, Alec’s head looks a wee bit too small? I know about anatomy and such ;) but his face/head is the same size as Elspeth’s, but his body is way bigger/broader. Could be just me, as I said. :)

Jenny said...

Have no fear, that gets corrected in later versions once the proportions of the kilt and such are fixed. At least, I don't notice it.

I actually also wanted him to be a little taller than he is here, but it's really that his head is bent to hers that makes him look shorter.

Plus, when you see the later versions, it looks like her knees are higher than his, so I reason she's standing on a rock or a slight rise in the ground. *w*

Cindy said...

Wow, that is very, very cool.

I did the meme, finally!