This is Fat Joe.
(click any image for a larger vesion)
I designed him for one of my assignments in Stephen Silver's Schoolism class. I was given the character's name along with a brief description and the freedom to take the design where I wanted. I'll use him for an overview of my character design process:
I begin the design process with lots of sketches from reference.
For Fat Joe I looked at photos of chubby faces
and observed how clothes hang on a rotund man.
When I feel I've got enough reference, I start to simplify and stylise what I've learned from the sketches. This usually means constructing the character from basic shapes and dropping in what I've found to be the key characteristics of their physical form.
Drawing very quickly is important here, to help keep the ideas flowing.
As I draw, a design theme starts to form and I explore several variations on it.
Eventually, I have to settle on one route to develop further. Depending on deadlines, I may choose more than one, but at any rate I can only develop them one at a time. At this stage I'm concerned mostly with the clarity of the silhouette and the use of contrasting shapes in creating a balanced and appealing foundation for my design.
Start off loose...
...gradually tighten up the shapes....
...until I get a drawing I'm pleased enough with to go over in ink:
Finally, I scan the inked drawing in and produce a colour pass like the one at the top of this post.