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Helen Capewell
OCA Learning Log
Student Number: 522802
Degree: Illustration
Current Level: 2

Character Development

Character design! Yay!

Yes, I enjoyed this one. It actually came at great timing, as I was asked to create a new skateboard at work which would include a new character. I had previously made them a young skeleton guy who would be doing a different skate trick per board. In total I created 5 different skateboards with this character. They wanted to do something similar but with a different character. Hmmm, what could I do. I had a think! It then hit me, wrestling! But not just any wrestling, Lucha Libre! They're like superheroes but without the powers! I could have fun with this!

So browsed and I browsed. I grabbed so many pictures it was like a spider diagram! I wanted to see as many masks as I could. The more I saw the more chance I would avoid creating something that already existed.


I wanted to see how others had drawn Luchador's. Partly to avoid doing something similar, and also to see how different people had drawn their body proportions. I really didn't want to use this to recreate in anyone styles, I wanted this to be mine!


I researched further in to the life of a Luchador. I wanted to better understand the mask before I tried design one that would become an ongoing character. Did they mean something? Represent anything? Or were they just trying to look like a superhero? I just know they're cool!

Little did I know, that the masks are very, very sacred and it is highly respected in Lucha Libre.

The mask is considered sacred to a degree, so much so that fully removing an opponent's mask during a match is grounds for disqualification.[17] - Wikipedia [1]

It allows the wrestlers to live a double life, that of a wrestler and of course keeping their private life, private! Whenever they are in front of the camera or an audience, they will ALWAYS wear the mask. The masks are so important, that a match was created where if you were to lose the fight, the winner would personally remove your mask in front of the audience. Once the mask was removed, they would never be allowed to wear it again, and for most this is a massive moment, life changing in fact! It can also often bring shame to the wrestlers heritage by losing their mask.

The masks also help the wrestlers channel their wrestling characters.

"Masks (máscaras) have been used dating back to the beginnings of lucha libre in the early part of the 20th century, and have a historical significance to Mexico in general, dating to the days of the Aztecs.[16] Early masks were very simple with basic colors to distinguish the wrestler. In modern lucha libre, masks are colorfully designed to evoke the images of animals, gods, ancient heroes and other archetypes, whose identity the luchador takes on during a performance." - Wikipedia [1]

I found some video one YouTube that also inspired the character. I was getting in to the world of Lucha Libre and I had to say, I'm enjoying the history this sport carries!

So with the history knowledge now under my belt, It was time I created my Luchador. What would be his spirit animal?

I did research on Mexican animals. I looked at birds but didn't feel it. Once I started sketching away, I thought snakes! What snakes live in Mexico...

Yup, I jumped to google. And look at those beauties! No I'm not really a fan of snakes, and I certainly wouldn't want to come face to face with these. But you have to love nature and the beauty it creates! That yellow is AMAZINg.. But Bothriechis bicolor was a bit long and not very showman. Rattlesnake on the other hand, that had a ring to it. But what if I translated it into Spanish?

El Crótalo was born! No he just needed to exist on paper, and have a personality.

I had characters like Johnny Bravo look and posing personality and Mr Incredible's physic in mind. Big at the top, short at the bottom, disproportioned!

For some reason Stavros Flately also came to mind. Who could forget their iconic dance on BGT! In case you had, here's a reminder:

Their poses, the dance and the attitude was totally what I had in mind for the character.

But what I really felt would make a fun personality trait, would be to add a little Matador flavour in to the mix. Not that I support bullfighting at all, it was this strong posing and sharp movement I imagined El Crótalo doing in the ring.

Here's the personality moodboard:

So I have my character spirit animal and personality. time to open the sketchbook!

One more thing! I have BEAUTIFUL book which at this stage will come very handy!

I love a good "the Art of.." book. It's amazing seeing the behind the scenes of how they create a full feature animation. The Book Of Life is probably one of my favourite movies where the artwork just amazes me. It's a stunning film, and the details are so good! Of course I needed this book in my life, and now is a great opportunity to get it out!

Wish I could share all the work in this film, but instead I will recommend the film! Also, to my luck, what with it being 100% Mexican, there is a cheeky character with a double life! Yes, there is a Luchador, but you'd never guess who it is...


In the sketchbook I was able to come to a conclusion on the face. But the body was a struggle. I think it was down to space on the page and ending up drawing this small. It felt wooden and really unnatural.

Below images are the very first concepts for this character. His face more rounded and his body somewhat in proportion (upper and lower). He's still great and I love his sassy hips in this pose! Hello Matador and a hint of Stavros Flatley!

I decided on his colours.

Below I wanted to play a little more on personality, but as you can see it is again from the original drawings with his head being a lot rounder. I still like the pose and would still consider this part of his personality in the ring. The blue sketches are the initial sketching to map out the posture. Again they're flat. The reason being is I'm working from reference that are stiff, they're posed and not in motion. On top of that I trying to figure the proportions, so in my opinion they were forced!

I tried again, this time using the sketchbook doodle to help. Here is the final coloured render of El Crótalo!


Again this one came from a brief at work. This time the skateboard brand is called Voltage. It's a fairly cheap skateboard brand for beginners. I had major inspiration from the brand name itself. Voltage. I wanted to add electric, in which ever sense!

I first played with weird alien bugs or robot bunnies. Was I really going to make a character case out these? No not really, but I explored them anyways.

I wanted to make a human. So I created a simple moodboard. One that had poses and electric!

And then... this happened...

YES! He is my character. He's perfect. So I wanted to break it down and create different poses for him, and little turnaround.


Voltageman was going to be a "bad guy" - well he just looked like a shifty character!

He's going to be young, a bit of a techy and a bit of a genius. He made his suit, which looks pretty basic but the power it has is incredible... All I know is he can create electric in hands, and can control it.

I tried breakdown each element and show different angles, mostly in his odd shaped nose.

And finally..


I really enjoyed working on this exercise. Character design is definitely something I would like to pursue in the future, and hope to continue creating these little characters for a portfolio!


The Art of The Book Of Life


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