Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Pepe and Lucas - The Clown Car - A prop full of props.

As the action heated up in Pepe and Lucas, we introduced Pepe's clown car. Originally, the battle would have had a few more levels of escalation. Pepe would have begun battle with a mallet, then used a small canon, then a gigantic pie launching canon, followed by the clown car, then maybe transformed into a mech to do battle with the mech the mime would imagine. However, all that action would have added several minutes and would have really upset the pacing. After all, we originally intended to have something shorter in the 5 minute range and we still ended up with something in the 8 minute range. We pared down the action scenes but kept the climactic battle where the clown, as a last resort uses a clown car to challenge the mime. The mime, not to be outdone, mimes a robot mech, and they do battle. 

By the time the clown introduces the clown car, the weapons each character uses have progressed from the standard props associated with clowns and mimes to something that might fit right into a scifi movie. The clowns car was designed like the tiny car we're all familiar with , but it would have tons of Inspector Gadget arms holding various clown weapons so it would literally be "armed to the teeth." When I started designing it, the pie launcher was still a go, so I used another food weapon and introduced an egg firing gatling gun. To make it more ridiculous, I added a chicken to man the gun. We tried a range of cars to see what would look most natural in our evolving environment and story. I spent a fair amount of time trying ideas inspired by 40's, 50's and 60's European cars. I new it needed to have a touch of old world European nostalgia and by this time I was looking at a lot of vintage toys when designing for the clown. Looking at toys or models of an era is a great way to see how things have been simplified and stylized to their essence, but still maintain an element of fun. It was important to be inspired by reality, but not just to stylize reality, but to make it fit the alternative world we developed. I eventually settled on a VW Bug inspired look, but the element that finally clinched it for me was when I drew the bumper around the entire car. It looked just like a bumper car. A bumper car totally epitomized the rough banging around and jerky movements I imagined for Pepe's transportation.

I did a fair number of color variations for the car that would have matched Pepe's outfit, but it seemed to be better to have the car feel like a separate item with it's own color set. I kept the yellow from the scarf, but introduced the green compliment to really keep the focus on Pepe's head.

One of the few times I've had to design the underside of something.

Each element that popped out of the car needed an explanatory drawing.

It almost wasn't worth designing the balls, since that's a standard design and color set for actual juggling balls, but they were primary colors and it worked with Pepe's clothing colors. Since we were stylizing so much, and wear and tear and grunge were so much a part of the Pepe's identity, I paid special attention to the rust patches and dinks on the car as well as on the juggling balls. I wanted those touches to still retain a graphic quality to them, often so that they could look worn without losing some of the color vibrancy you might get from introducing smudges and dirt.

The chicken body didn't require much exploration, but I did take some time to work on the eyes and see if they should look more animal or more intelligent. Somewhere in there a Prussian helmet entered the fray.

Of course a clown car can fit buckets of other clowns in it, but in Pepe's situation, they're all robot clones of himself that work in unison to overpower the mime.

And that is how the task of designing one prop became a the task of developing several props. ;)

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