THOR! A lesson on the work of Nico Marlet

Over at my Character Design Class I've charged students with becoming a character artist at Dreamworks Animation under the direction of Nicolas Marlet (fabricated!). The basis of this lesson is to learn adaptability as well as the masterful use of shape, story and detailed design from Nico Marlet. In this case, students were asked to either design Thor or a Valkyrie for How To Train Your Dragon. Marlet's designs have a very specific character to them. They have an overall shape theory per character that encompasses the character fully.... like a bag of sand or a sack of water. There is then a subtle use of interior details that do two things: create a volume by wrapping around this overall shape as well as push the story of each individual character. The silhouettes are solid and recognizable for the film, with minimal breaking of the contour.

Here is one of my own attempts at Thor. I tried melding two things in to this design. The distinct character style of the film along with the massive environment details. I think it succeeds in setting Thor, a god, apart from the other Vikings, but at the same time it breaks one of the ideas of the solid silhouette shape with a lot of elements jutting out. I was also looking to incorporate some distinct Thor motifs. The shape of Moljnir in his beard and repeated again in his armor. A giant goat/sheep skin cloak and horned helmet reminiscent of the war rams that pull his chariot.

This was still a lot of fun to do and I think my students are going to nail it. You can see the evolving semester at the face book page.

Class can be attended only at Bergen Street Comics.