Sunday, July 20, 2014

Pepe and Lucas - A long road to find the right mime - Part 2

Since the chemistry between the clown and the mime was so important and they would take up the most screen time, I constantly compared them as I developed the mime character. For a while, I lined them up with both of the clown final designs to see if one resonated better than the other. The mime had a bit of a tom boy look in many of my designs as well as some of the other artists who tackled her. It was tricky to keep her sex a question. A lot of it came with hiding the hips somehow and exploring nose options. Eventually, a combination of some of the concepts led to the most sinewy and graceful character you see in the film, but a lot of exploration still went into the face even after it was clear we had the right body type.

As you can see, I created variations for the mouth, the nose, the eyes, and the eyebrows. If the clown was an explosive angry character, the mime needed to be a calm, graceful, centered character. Someone above it all. A consummate professional. The height difference made her seem a little more mature as well as making the clown seem a little more harmless.

The biggest twist in "Pepe and Lucas" is the reveal toward the end that the mime is actually a woman who hides her huge red clown hair underneath a hat, an element the clown finds irresistible. Different hairstyles seemed to work on different characters, but always the goal was to make the hair loud and colorful, something that would have to be hidden away in order for the audience to be able to focus on her performance. That visual connection created by that stop sign red color as well as the pure size adds to the sudden realization for the clown that he may have something in common with his antagonist after all.

It seemed insignificant when I started, but I played around with the number of painted on lashes. The one horizontal lash and one vertical tear below the eye were pretty traditional, but filling in that space with two extra lashes added just a touch more of femininity to the character to help strike that super delicate balance.
I still played around with the mouth too. Getting that one perfect pose and expression is so key to identifying the core of a character to the rest of the Brain Zoo team is painstaking. I usually only go about 1 to 3 iterations beyond that one sketch that feels right, but the mime was a much more hidden character. Even the smile was tricky. It needed to be confident and self-assured without being egotistical. It needed to be a little sly since she knows something we don't, but not smug. As you've seen the nose was a triangle wedge shape for a long time. I'd hoped to create a nose that was opposite to the clown's since the mime essentially represents an opposite, but the nose was so bold looking and what we needed was something smoother and graceful, so I ended up introducing a slight swoop to it.

Final mime design. Lucas.

Final mime design with hair exposed.

Once the mime was finally chosen, I sketched a few more mimes, since having really solidified what the mime represented for the film, a lot of my previous creations seemed unrelated and we didn't know at the time if we'd see other performers or if "Pepe and Lucas" would be a recurring short film project for us.

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