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 – Odin’s wolves

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.

I’ve covered Josh’s family and most of the Viking characters in previous posts.

Today I’ll show you my sketches of Odin’s wolves.

 

As well as two pet ravens, Odin has two pet wolves. Their names are Geri and Freki. Both names translate as ‘ravenous, greedy’. Not that they display these qualities in The Last Viking Returns; they are more heroic, joining Sigurd as he faces off against Fafnir the dragon.

The two wolves also provide a parallel for the dogs that accompany Josh on his journey in the book.

This is my character reference sheet for the wolves.

Wolves

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 wolves:

Wolves-colour

I don’t think I did too badly drawing these two; they probably look a little too much like huskies rather than wolves. There’s so many subtle differences between dog bodies and wolf bodies, I still think I need practice!

 

That’s it for the Asgardian characters. Next week I’ll introduce one of the villains – the Dragon King.

 


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Character design – Freya

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.

I’ve covered Josh’s family and most of the Viking characters in previous posts.

Today I’ll show you my sketches of Freya.

 

Freya is the goddess of love and beauty. In the original mythology, she rides a chariot drawn by two giant cats.

She appears briefly in The Last Viking but looking back I wasn’t happy with her depiction. I kept her costume the same for the The Last Viking Returns but I changed her face and body shape.

Viking women were just as fierce as their male counterparts. Norman and I wanted Freya to be tough enough to run into battle with the boys, so I made her taller and stronger than she’d looked previously, and gave her a sword too.

This is my character reference sheet for Freya.

Freya

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

Freya-colour

Next week we’ll look at my sketches for Odin’s pet wolves.

 


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Character design – Odin

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.

I’ve covered Josh’s family and some of the Viking characters already.

Today I’ll show you my sketches of Odin.

 

Odin is the head honcho in Norse mythology. Lots of schoolkids get him confused with Zeus, and understandably – both are old men with white beards who live in the sky. (It’s no wonder that the Christian God is sometimes imagined as an old white-bearded man, considering the centuries of similar depictions that came earlier).

This is my character reference sheet for Odin.

Odin

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

Odin-colour

Next week we’ll look at my sketches for the goddess of love and beauty, Freya.

 


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Character design – Sigurd

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.

I’ve covered Josh’s family already and I’ve just started on the Viking characters.

Today I’ll show you my sketches of Sigurd.

 

Sigurd was a Viking hero, not a Norse god. He was renowned for his feats of bravery, including the slaying of the dragon Fafnir. (More on that later).

In The Last Viking Returns, Thor sneaks out of Asgard to have a holiday. Sigurd is left to defend Asgard against Fafnir.

Sigurd needed to look different enough to Thor to provide a counterpoint; he needed to look more responsible and down to earth. That’s why he doesn’t have the fanciest clothes or the shiniest sword. His appearance is also based on his original occupation – Sigurd was a blacksmith. He wears a leather cap, similar to what a Viking blacksmith would have worn, and this also helps him stand out all the other Asgardians (who all have horned helmets).

There is in fact an earlier version of Sigurd that almost appeared in The Last Viking, but he looked completely different back then- I’ll show those sketches another time.

These are my reference sketches and notes for Sigurd.

Sigurd-1

 

Sigurd-2

 

Sigurd-3

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

Sigurd-colour

Next week I’ll talk about Thor’s father, Odin.

 


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Character design – Thor

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.

I’ve covered Josh’s family already, so it’s on to the Norse gods – the Asgardians. Thor is up first.

 

Millions of children are familiar with the Marvel comics version of Thor, thanks to the Avengers cartoons and films. For copyright reasons, we were unable to reference that version of Thor (not that we would want to).

In the original stories Thor had red hair and a big red beard. He wore magic gauntlets to protect his hands when wielding his lightning hammer, Mjolnir. I tried to include these elements in my design, while making it (hopefully) original. (Though in all these Viking characters there is more than a little influence from Asterix comics).

 

These are my reference sketches and notes for Thor.

Thor-2 Thor-1

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

Thor-colour

And here’s how he appears on the back cover of The Last Viking Returns.

back-cover-Thor

Next week I’ll focus on a new Viking character – the hero Sigurd.