This is a one of several series project I'm working on for my portfolio. I plan to work on additional pieces in the future, so I'll post updates whenever I can.
Update - 31 May 2020
Earlier this year, I started working on a series of concept pieces for a mock pitch to use in my portfolio. The characters were a bit of a challenge, but in the end they becoming some of my strongest work to date and helped figure out the current direction to push my style.
Elevator Pitch: The misadventures of a plucky young mail carrier who wants to be a superhero.
Plot: Klara Powers is a bright eyed, energetic, and optimistic girl who just graduated high school graduate and is starting her new as a mail carrier. Her over-the-top nature, along with her desire to be a superhero, causes chaos for everyone else at the post office. While Klara has to struggle with growing up and facing reality, her antics shows others how to find joy and satisfaction from even the most meaningless jobs.
Working as a mail carrier to pursue her dreams of being a superhero, Klara is overly enthusiastic of her new job and sees even the smallest task as a possibility to be a hero, she has yet to realize how harsh reality can be and her antics often lead to all kinds of trouble.
Thumbnails & Studies
Klara's overall concept was that she’s scrawnier than professional mail carriers, she has elements of her design that go against the dress code, and her design relies more on round shapes and edges to contrast with how the rest of the cast uses squares, triangles, and sharp edges.
I also felt Klara’s design needed to practically be redone from scratch to fit the series’ overall visual style. I wanted to push the round shapes in her design more and give body more of a UPA/rubberhose aspect to match her bouncy personality.
Once I had a design down for Klara, I looked at several figure drawing sources such as stock photos and tips on how to make poses feel more lively (ex-curving the arms and legs). I also researched what it’s like to work in a post office and based the sketches on both my findings and feedback from a friend who used to work as a mail carrier.
Final Model Sheet
As the assistant postmaster, Big John prefers sitting at the office all day, looking at his phone, and forcing the other employees to do most of his work. The only time he acts responsible is whenever the postmaster is aroundso he does not lose his job. He is often the most annoyed by Klara’s antics as the get in the way of his usual plans or cause him todo more workthanhe prefers.
Thumbnails & Studies
Big John was originally designed as a round, pudgy guy who just sat in a mail truck all day. However, after talking to someone who worked as a mail carrier and learning about the different jobs and positions, his role changed to a lazy assistant post master who forced his duties onto everyone else.
Most of his later designs were based on a mailbox and give the impression that he’s strong and reliable to contrast with his true personality. They're also based on the concept of a large man trying to wear skinny jeans.
Final Model Sheet
The props shown in the final design include items one would find in the post office: letters, manilla envelopes, mail bins, a mail cart, and a mail bag.
My next step was to work on a series of rough sketches until I ended up with several prop designs I could like. I tried to do as many variations of the props as I could think of, and I ended up with more designs than I thought I would.
This illustration is meant to give people a general idea of the series. Klara is shown at the post office as she eagerly jumps onto the front desk (wearing a rain cape) as she’s excited to help someone with their package. The customer is shocked while Big John is annoyed glances between Klara and his phone.
Spider Chart & Thumbnails
A few ideas I toyed around with for the post office keyframe are Klara acting like a superhero while aiding a customer, chucking letters into mail slots, trying to push a heavy cart, and using her belt to load several bins onto a truck. In all of these pieces, Big John is seen in the background either checking his phone or hardly doing any work.
Rough Sketches & Studies
While originally planning to draw Klara in a front pose, I did a little extra work to figure out how to draw her in a superhero landing pose as a reference to modern superhero films. While I knew this would take extra time to revise Klara’s pose, I felt this idea was too good to pass up since it fits perfectly with her character. I also felt the illustration was feeling a little stiff before, so I thought this could make the piece more lively and exciting.