The Last Viking Returns


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Character design – choosing colours for the cast

Over the last 3 months I’ve posted my rough sketches for all the characters in the book.

I’ve covered Josh’s family, all the Viking characters and the two villains.

This post gathers all the colour reference versions together so you can see the links between them.

I’ve made some notes on each major group of characters and their colours. Most of the time my colour choices were a matter of gut feeling, and it’s only after the fact that I can figure out why certain combinations seemed to work.

 

First up is Josh’s family.

I didn’t intentionally make Josh’s costume out of primary colours, but it turned out that way – yellowish hair, red helmet and shield, blue shirt. Add a bit of green and you’ve got a bunch of bright happy colours, which all help Josh stand out from whatever moody background he’s in front of.

Wolverine’s colander helmet and collar are the same shade of gold and red found on Josh’s chestplate. This sharing of colour is a simple way to link Josh and Wolverine together.

Josh’s siblings are in blue and red shirts – the same blue and red found in Josh’s costume. Their shorts/skirt are darker shades of the blue and red respectively. All three children have the same colour boots. Again, it’s about linking Josh with his siblings in the eye of the reader using colour.

Nan is the only one in the family to wear a shade of purple. I find it a loud colour for some reason; I don’t wear it a lot, and it seems to clash with a lot of colours I normally use. This fits with Nan’s no-nonsense, outspoken personality. I made it a soft, warm shade of purple though (at least to my slightly colour-blind eyes) as it seemed like a colour a loving, caring (but feisty) Nan might wear. The sneakers have purple trim in the same shade.

Pop is all in shades of grey – warm shades, tinges of brown in there. The dark vest is a strong contrast to the colour of his skin, shirt and pants. His colours seem warm and masculine and strong to me. Bright colours just didn’t seem to suit Pop; he’s silly and child-like, but he’s strong and grounded. I imagine he would give very big bear hugs. His colours make him stand out, not only from his wife but from all the other characters in the family.

character-sheet--family-550px

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Character design – the twins

Between now and the launch of The Last Viking Returns (Sept 1st, 2014), I’m doing a series of posts showing my rough sketches for all the characters in the book.

Next up in the family are the twins.

 

The twins only appeared once in The Last Viking – on the very last page. I didn’t give a lot of though to their design. I didn’t think I’d need to draw them more than once. I was wrong.

Norm has fleshed out their personalities in The Last Viking Returns. It turns out the twins are not all sweetness and light – they are berzerkers in the making.

I needed to refine their appearance, make them look a bit older and cheekier, and practice them before trying to do any final artwork.

These are my sketches and notes.

twins-1 twins-2

I made a standard colour version of each character too, so that I could keep their colours consistent. Here’s the colour sheet for the twins:

twins-colour

Point to note: the twins have never been officially named. I’ve been referring to them as Timothy and Tabitha (which aren’t very Viking-like, but to be honest neither is Josh).

Have you got some names in mind? Give us your best ideas in the comments.


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Character designs – Wolverine and the lady dog

Between now and the launch of The Last Viking Returns (Sept 1st, 2014), I’m doing a series of posts showing my rough sketches for all the characters in the book.

Next up in the family is Wolverine, Josh’s faithful companion.

 

As with the character of Josh, I’d already illustrated a whole book with Wolverine before, but I hadn’t drawn him very much at all in the 3 year gap in between. I needed to practice drawing him again.

Wolverine
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Character design – Josh/Knut

Between now and the launch of The Last Viking Returns (Sept 1st, 2014), I’m going to do a series of posts showing my rough sketches for all the characters in the book.

I’m starting with the family characters. First up is our main man Josh.

 

Even though I’d illustrated a whole book with him before, it had been almost 3 years since I’d drawn him regularly. I wanted to feel more confident at drawing him consistently, so I sat down and worked out how to draw him again. These are my sketches and notes.

 

Josh-1 Josh-2I made a standard colour version of each character too, so that I could keep their colours consistent. Here’s the colour sheet for Josh:Josh-colour

Next up will be Wolverine, along with his new friend…


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Young Josh is very brave…

You’ve gotta’ love Children’s Bookweek.  This is Josh from Dalyellup Primary School on the coast near Bunbury in WA. His school librarian, Heather Lindsay, invited me to her school to meet all the kids, including the rather terrifying  pre-primary classes.  I survived them and met loads of lovely kids all bursting with excitement and really enjoying the book. It seems it is a favourite with a great many of them and romped it home in the class voting for Book of the Year. Who would have thought the whimsical little story James and I concocted on Rottnest Island three  years ago would be so popular with kids of all ages. Long may it continue as I have some long and expensive holidays, er… book research, to pay for with the royalties.

Josh made a Viking helmet from his bike helmet when he heard I was to visit his class. Excellent! And well done to his parents on picking a name for him that I could actually spell when signing his book.  A real Viking hero’s’ name.  Though he tells me he is considering changing it by deed poll to K-nut.   Even more excellent!!


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The goodbye scene

There’s a scene in Last Viking where Josh arrives at Nan and Pop’s house, says goodbye to his mum and dad, and watches them drive off. Sounds simple enough. It took Norm and I a few goes to get it right.

The text and pictures would have to achieve a number of things- introduce Nan and Pop, introduce the setting, and show Josh’s close relationship with his Mum and Dad. The text and pictures couldn’t show Josh’s parents leaving in a way that implied they were dumping him so they could go away for the weekend together… it had to be sensitive.

The first and second goes didn’t achieve these things :p

earlier-goodbye-scene

First go

early-goodbye-scene

second go

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The all important opening scene- part 4 (final colours)

Over the last 3 weeks I’ve shown the process of developing the opening scene of Last Viking. I covered the first roughs, some more developed ideas, and the final pencils.

I’d gotten up to here:

p2-3-pencils-final

final pencils

and now this week: the final colours.

My first go wasn’t too bad- but the night-time panel wasn’t dark enough. It seemed like early morning, and Josh would (should) be asleep by then 🙂 I wasn’t sure about the colours in the day-time panel either. But I liked the blur of colour from the left-hand panel across the gutter.

p2-3-colour-v1

The light is too bright, almost like a spotlight, or a UFO

When I had tried colours for a few pages, I started to see that sometimes it looked good if just a few things were coloured in, and other parts were left white. So I tried that. And I darkened up the night-time panel.

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