Once I started drawing the first sketches of Geeks In Love, I pretty much nailed the Geekette right away.
I knew I wanted simple lines. In other words, I wanted boil down the characters as much as possible, to their essential characteristics. If a line or a detail could be left out, it was.
So I set out to draw a Geek that would match the style of the Geekette. This proved to be much more difficult than I had envisioned…
The Geek, Phase 1: Stumbling in the dark
I sketched and sketched and sketched, and while I got a few OK Geeks, I couldn’t reproduce them at will. Worse, I had no idea what made the ones I liked work.
The Geek, Phase 2: A more structured approach
In desperation, I tried to work from a photograph. I came up with a nice, clean character, in a style reminiscent of the traditional Belgian ligne claire.
But I had to face the fact that this Geek was much more detailed than the Geekette, required a beard to be recognizable (I wanted the character to be consistent regardless of the length of his beard or his hair, etc.). This phase did help me get a real feel for the lower part of the face. I finally had a clue what made that work or not. Still, I just couldn’t simplify him any further. I had hit another dead end.
The Geek, Phase 3: Back to the drawing board
I took a bunch of images with the built-in webcam of my MacBook, put one up on the screen, and went to work. I came up with this drawing:
It helped me nail down a vital characteristic I was missing: the overall shape of the head. I wanted the Geek’s silhouette to be instantly recognizable, just as the Geekette’s silhouette was. With new hope, I blackened dozens and dozens of pages.
Strangely enough, I knew I had the Geek when I drew the following picture:
Even though I knew this wasn’t the character, I recognized in that drawing that I finally had all of the ingredients I needed to draw the Geek: the nose, the simplified mouth and chin, the shape of the head. Like so:
I had the rounded counterpart to the angular Geekette.
In retrospect, I realize that during my years of cartooning a lifetime ago, I never went through such a meticulous process. I was too impatient and spontaneous. Paradoxically, this time, it is precisely because I wanted to be able to draw my characters spontaneously, en trois coups de crayon (in just a few strokes), that I pushed myself and found the strength to endure this painstaking ordeal.
Next: The Making of Geeks In Love Part II: The Look and Feel.