Wednesday, 15 January 2014

The Vigilante

Here I am beginning to develop my left wing vigilante character. Whereas my Capitalist hero is a celebrated CEO, his 'criminal' counterpart must keep his identity a secret, so much so that we only know him as the mayhem causing alter ego.

I first went with some rough silhouettes to see if anything interesting emerged. I took a hooded Robin Hood/ Green Arrow approach:

I used a Feng Zhu design approach, sketching quickly and blocking in, trying to establish strong silhouetts:

Interestingly, in this tutorial Feng talks about showing off the female form, as that's what sells in the industry. This seems like a very exploitative capitalist approach, using sex to sell. Perhaps with my vigilante I can instead break convention. I like how in the Batman franchise, The Joker rarely portrayed as a body builder, yet challenges Batman's physical and technological superiority using whit and cunningness.

I wasn't very happy with the above designs, as they felt very generic and uninspired. I wanted to keep the idea of the hood, but give a kind of gorilla protest vibe, wearing a cheap shop-bought novelty mask. I tried a quick scene concept depicting a hooded and masked vigilante standing up against a sort of authority. Again, at this stage I working loose and freely to see how my ideas develop:

I included some reference to surveillance within my city with the inclusion of cctv cameras. The low angle of this piece and the strong red lighting communicates some level of drama, but still here my ideas weren't fully formed. This led me on to some more critical mask designs:

From these designs, I liked the sad clown approach. I liked the feeling of torture and despair behind the concept, like an ironic spin on an upbeat tradition. It also has this level of ambiguity, that things are not always as they seem. We associate clowns with joy and laughter, but behind closed doors the comedian is often a tortured soul. I took this concept further:

With this piece I decided to also include a sinister clown painted on the back of the characters jacket, which I thought could represent a duel personality. The sad clown mask represents the notion that our government treats us like fools, and many respect this authority and play dumb in the pursuit of a trouble free existence. It almost equates to the medieval jester dancing around and performing humiliating slapstick routines for royalty, even though it may seem degrading and character compromising. The vigilante wears this disgruntlement on his face, challenging the elites who ask him to act 'patriotic' or oblivious. One criticism with many left wing protagonists, particularly ones that exist within western action driven narratives, is that their violence and physical displays contradicts their liberal views. The sinister clown painting acts like Bruce Waynes 'Dark Knight' alter ego. The fetishised violence could easily consume, and very much like Showtime's 'Dexter Morgan' he uses his lust for dominance and physical aggression to fight for a cause he sees fit.

Finally, on a more broad development note I have made some amendments to previous concepts. First of all, with the CEO's surveillance desk concept, I noticed anatomy problems with the narrowness of the character's neck, which I corrected. Secondly, I pointed out that my Capitalist hero needed a way to transcend the city that dwarfs the everyman. TO achieve this I did a paint over, adding futuristic armour to the currently named 'Cyclops' piece:

I went for a very spotless fantastic white approach as I thought it felt very sharp and modern, with subtle hints to the patriotic colours of the American flag. The Capitalist Hero uses jets in his wrists and boots to soar through the city and dazzle onlookers in celebration of western military technology.

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