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

Create a Superhero

Exercise 3


There is something about this exercise that is intimidating, however the actual content of the exercise does help ease that. Coming up with superheroes has often been an area I would like to avoid. Of course, my little creation will not be seen by a large audience, so it shouldn't really matter. Yet, as a fan of the cinematic realm of superheroes, I feel as though there is responsibility in creating such characters.


Taking inspiration from a friend who works in sound healing and meditation, I decided to create my character using these skills as their power. Gong is a powerful instrument with a very high vibrational frequency which is used as an ancient form of healing.


My vision was based around the sound vibrations being a super power, one that can heal and one that can be used to fight enemies. I wanted the gong to be the main source of inspiration, and to consider the mallets as a weapon and a tool to summon the powers. I wanted this to be super, like from the person rather than an electrically powered instrument. ​I browsed Pinterest for a long time, pulling out different inspiration and references for poses that I thought would be relevant. I tried to remember characters that I had seen in film or cartoons that might have similar attributes as my hero. I didn't want to just look at the marvel comics that are recognisably their own, rather looking at other illustrators who might have reimagined famous characters into their own styles. This way I would see a variety in body types and shapes. I would get a different dynamic that could be useful for creating my own. Not only did I look at characters, but I also looked at Monks. Looking at the tai chi that is practised, and also using them for inspiration on the super suit!


I started sketching out different styles. I was using my friend as the hero, so aimed to keep certain features the same, ie hair style.




I toyed with the idea of using a headpiece, but subconsciously I had drawn similar to Wonder Woman, so I ditched this idea! I liked the simplistic style of the far right (purple glow) but I kind of wanted to challenge myself by creating a character that wasn't as young, however it would be fun to explore this further.


For now, I was leaning towards the two heads at the bottom. I copied them onto a new layer and tried to flesh out a full figure. As much as I didn't want the character to be so cartoony like the above right, I still wanted it to be a cartoon.




I kept the different sketch layers visible so that my thoughts and plan could be seen. I did like the body, but I wasn't enjoying the face. There was something in the trousers that I liked, with the low crutch, as it reminded me of the Monks, however it didn't seem right for this design.


It was also here that I introduced the mallet as my first weapon of choice.





I went back to further refining the face, and came to a look that was more along the lines that I had in mind. I especially like the bottom two images, with the bottom left being my favourite.


I then tried again at making a full body sketch, trying a slightly different approach on the outfit.




The pose felt more powerful, which I think helped me get into character myself! I explored the design for the chest area but felt I had gone too overboard with lines. I think I wanted this to be simple. I kept the Kimono sleeves and improved the trousers. I really liked how these looked.


I grew the canvas so I could add more sketches.




It felt as though the ideas were taking shape. I liked the poses which were mostly used from different resources. I don't know if this is frowned upon, but on this occasion I don't think I could have created my own reference photos that would get the result I wanted.


I didn't know what the back would look like at this stage so this was next, along with also deciding a name! The next art board combines all the sketches and notes that would help build character.




Whilst it was going well with the idea. I thought I would do a quick search to see if such a hero existed that used vibrations. Little did I know, a character from DC named Vibe kind of sounded quite similar. I didn't want this to stop me, as I think I had a different source of energy that create the vibrational waves, thanks to the gong. And really, with so many characters out there, it doesn't surprise me that there is someone using the same powers. It was, however, interesting to see how they portrayed the vibrations as a visible thing.



I jumped into arranging my favourite poses into a model sheet whilst also cleaning up the lines. After I had arrange them and outlined them, I played with a couple of colours. I originally wanted to keep the colours earthy, with green being the main colour. Once I had done this I was suddenly getting Peter Pan vibes, plus it also seemed too dull for a superhero.




It was ok, but really nothing special. It needed a little pop of a brighter colour to contrast it.




I didn't hate this, though I don't think it was right.



Although I now get a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle or Hulk vibe, I think this is my favourite.


This exercise definitely took the longest out of part 4. I kind of wanted to do a good job in creating a superhero, butI think it lacks the "super" I was hoping to achieve. That said, I'm still happy with the result!


Reference & Inspiration


All images were found on Pinterest. I do not have artist credit available.


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