Exploring Delores III

by Gary Winnick
Jun 18, 2015

Recapping the visual design process for the Delores character, we started off by defining the character as a text description. Once we had a reasonable criteria for who she needed to be, we proceeded to gather a broad range of visual reference to provide a good framework for a character's basic look, appropriate wardrobe, hairstyle, props etc. The next step, at least for me is to proceed with color sketches.

This is when you need to take all the information you've gathered and boil it down to a reasonable number of visual choices. Personally, I like to present somewhere in the neighborhood of 6-10 character concept sketches to a development team. Many more than that tends become confusing, these should be all in the same general scale, orientation and render style so people can look at them and easily mix and match their most prominent features: "I like the hair from that one and the jacket from this".

Additionally, in the case of this style of character development (I.E. for simpler game graphics or Saturday morning cartoons), for the sake of economy they lend themselves to components primarily rendered of solid colors. This allows for easier adaptation from design to an actual animated sprite. Some asymmetry Is acceptable, but we try to keep that minimal, as every detail you add, increases time needed to render the final character when you're potentially animating hundreds or even thousands of frames. That's why Saturday morning cartoons simplify things like comic book characters, unless you happen to be Disney, there's usually not enough time or budget.

I'll start this stage by printing out all the reference materials and arranging the pages out around the edges of my drawing table and pinned up on the walls, etc. so I can easily see everything at a glance. Then start roughing out individual standing figures in blue pencil. I began using non-photo blue pencils a long time ago (I personally like Staedtler brand)  as a holdover from working in comics, but mainly because they don't reproduce on a copy machine, so if I make any photocopies the only thing that copies is my black ink lines.

Once I've sketched out my rough drawing typically on regular 8.5 x 11" white copy bond, I'll ink line it with a black flair pen. I usually don't get that exactly to my liking the first time, but once I have a somewhat usable first version I'll put it on my light table and retrace until I'm happy with the drawing. I'll then scan and open it photoshop to color.

In the good old days at Lucasfilm, I'd just make a stack of copies of the lineart and color different variations with ad markers (those were expensive sets of alcohol based colored felt markers. We used to go through those markers by the dozens at a price of about $3/per pen, but Star Wars could pay for a hell of a lot of pens).

Once I have the colored rendered versions of a character properly arranged on a page, we'll sit down with the team to review and hopefully choose one or two candidates to take to the last step in this process: namely rendering final versions of the character appropriately as pixel art for the game.

In this case our team's pretty small and has worked together enough so it doesn't need to be sent off to marketing department or upper management, Ron and I will figure that out on our own. So remember who you have to blame for any of our design decisions....

halls - Jun 18, 2015 at 18:35
I notice glasses on EVERY sketch.. are glasses the only way of telling she's got that nerdy point?

Incognito - Jun 18, 2015 at 18:37
To me, the character on the far right (red shirt, black pants) is the one that embodies Delores.  That one really grabs me.

Matt - Jun 18, 2015 at 18:38
I'm diggin' the one with the 3 diamonds on her top.

Juan - Jun 18, 2015 at 18:44
My favorite is nº 9, followed closely by nº 7.

Jammet - Jun 18, 2015 at 18:49
I like 9 and 6. but prefer the short punk haircut of 3 (she's got that hair shorter on the other side, my guess). And if there have to be glasses, I'd prefer round ones. I'd also prefer a skirt to pants, but the skirt would need to be checkered to ooze that late nineties earlier eighties flair.

creatio - Jun 18, 2015 at 19:03

Ulrik the 32nd - Jun 18, 2015 at 19:10
They are all good.

But my favorites are 4, 6 and 8. Closely followed by 3, 9 and 7.

I just feel that 4, 6 and 8 are more graceful and have more intelligence than any of the other. But 3, 9 and 7 also have style, and also some grace and intelligence (but not the same level).

The rest I didnt mention (1, 2 and 5) are too geeky for my taste. Maybe it is the bow-tie-thingee  in their hair, of 2 and 5 that make them look immature, or the "old woman" feel of number 1.

Ulrik the 32nd - Jun 19, 2015 at 04:12
But after having thought about since last night I also want to mention that although number 8 is good, I really hope you change her hair color, giving that she will be in the final round or such.

Because as number 8 is portrayed now I keep thinking of Garth from Waynes World. That is an insecure guy and not an intelligent girl, as Delores is supposed to be.

Augusto - Jun 18, 2015 at 19:19
No shoulder pads... :o

Mattias Cedervall - Jun 18, 2015 at 20:02
I agree that it's missing!

Mattias Cedervall - Jun 18, 2015 at 20:02
I think I prefer number 2, but wearing 3D glasses and a Star Trek shirt.

Peter Campbell - Jun 18, 2015 at 20:43
The 2nd to last one is giving me a Garth from Wayne's World vibe (well, more like the female Garth look-alike from Wayne's World 2) lol.

Ulrik the 32nd - Jun 19, 2015 at 04:53
You know I was thinking the same thing.


But all seriousness (if you can say that in english): The design is great. But I think they should change the hair color on her. Dark or redhead. But keep the long hair, if you ask me.

Derrick Reisdorf - Jun 18, 2015 at 22:23
I think I'm still liking the last pixel Delores on the Delores II post:http://images.thimbleweedpark.com/delores/_delores_36.png

Manuel Quiñones - Jun 18, 2015 at 23:16
You switch to big heads style of characters in the pixel art step? I'm curious why not before?

I love the sketches Gary, specially number 3, she looks like a modern independient girl.

tcmsurfee - Jun 18, 2015 at 23:29
I'd pick #5 from the left. But I bet you'll make the right decision as a team.

Nacho Fernández - Jun 19, 2015 at 00:42
As always, very interesting to learn your way of working. Considering I don't think you are asking for our opinion or vote on the best possible Delores, I will not say #7 rocks. I'll keep that to myself. Things look great so far, gentlemen.

Brett - Jun 19, 2015 at 01:28
I like the outfit on 5 a lot (very 80s but still looks hip for the time) but without the bow in her hair. Number 9 is a close second for the striking outfit. In fact I think I recommend outfit 5 with the long hair of 9.

I think a lot of people will like #3, and I would too in real life, but not for Delores. Both the flashdance outfit and the rockstar hair don't seem to fit the character bio from the original text post. If you change her character up a lot though it could be a good pick.

Ricardo Marichal - Jun 19, 2015 at 03:05
My favourite is nº4, the three diamond girl.

Roberto Cano - Jun 19, 2015 at 03:35
I really like the last one!

Is number 8 the model for the pixel art of last post? http://images.thimbleweedpark.com/delores/_delores_36.png

I'm really curious to see which one you choose and you transform it to pixel art.

Any chance to make glasses absurdly big? :) That could really make the point. Also I imagined Delores smaller, like a little woman with a LOT of character :D (http://thumb7.shutterstock.com/display_pic_with_logo/86135/86135,1301307872,15/stock-photo-happy-and-smart-young-blond-woman-with-funny-glasses-and-plait-looks-like-nerdy-girl-smiling-and-74085538.jpg)

Big Red Button - Jun 19, 2015 at 05:24
n° 9 with red hair and the jeans clothes of n° 6 would be my favourite.

Big Red Button - Jun 19, 2015 at 05:37
...and maybe with round glasses other than the upper sketch. Big round glasses would look very nerdy. But I don't like many of the 80s glasses. So I'm not sure if glasses are really important at all.

Big Red Button - Jun 19, 2015 at 05:45
Whoops! My suggestions could result in a rip-off of agent Reyes.

DZ-Jay - Jun 19, 2015 at 06:06
That was a great write-up of the process.  I see your preliminary designs, and if I had to choose from them for Delores, based on your character description, I'd go with fourth from the left.  That's a perfect mixture of girly-nerdy-awkwardness in the 1980s.


Gv - Jun 19, 2015 at 08:37
What about something like the girl in Day of the Tentacle? Something less serious because she looks slightly bitchy. Or something more 80s like an exaggerated hairspray style.

N Hamdi Mortan - Jun 19, 2015 at 19:35
4th and the last one are our favorites of me and my wife :) Can't wait to see their pixel versions!

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Jun 20, 2015 at 14:48
My favourite is N° 8

Tomimt - Jun 21, 2015 at 10:29
That's a good set of different takes.
I like 9, 3 and 8

Jooooseph - Jun 24, 2015 at 03:32
7 & 9