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My Blog. My Art. My life.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

12 Months of Dogs Of War - August (Trevor)

I did say that I would showcase my characters in the order I created them, but for the bad guys it's a bit difficult, as I created most of them at roughly the same time. But let's give it a crack regardless.

Here's Trevor, the strongest out of all the dog characters within my Dogs Of War series. Like Sledge, he is also currently surnameless. It was briefly 'Hellstorm', but that was too stupid even for me, so it was dropped. Usually when I name my characters I choose something that pops into my head naturally - I don't try to force it. But even after all these years, I've come up with nothing.

Not really much more to say about ol' Trev. I haven't exactly put much thought and effort into developing his character. He's enthusiastic about guns, but that's about it. He's also one of the few characters where I haven't decided what nationality he is. As far as the bad doggies go, they tend to have a bit of a European focus. Not that I wish to portray Europeans as evil - heck, I chose Europe because I LOVE the region - it's just that I prefer to think when this team was recruited by their superiors, they were all picked - without too much thought - from roughly the same training area.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

12 Months of Dogs Of War - July (Mitch) 03

Mitch's assault rifle was something I developed quite recently. His initial weapons of choice was his sword (same type that Peter has) and an automatic pistol. Neither of which are that useful against a heavily armoured opponent. Mitch and his team were created specifically to hunt down the Halo Blades - a team that fields heavy armour. The equipment of Mitch and so on needed to be able to pose a threat to them.

Mitch did used to have an assault rifle, the idea being that it was the result of fitting his automatic pistol with some attachments to convert it into an assault rifle. This idea was dropped as it still fired pistol ammunition, which wouldn't have made it any more effective as a rifle weapon. Also, it would have meant that Mitch's primary weapons would be a pistol, sword and assault rifle, which was the same loadout of Peter Edgewood and I didn't want the two characters to have identical weapon types.

However Mitch really did need an upgrade to his arsenal, so I got designing. Not long after some basic concepting, I came across a YouTube video from the Forgotten Weapons channel about the H&K SL-8. I found it interesting as it bore a resemblance to what I had already been designing, so I used it for further inspiration. To make it more useful against armour, I added the RPG launching section.

I'm quite happy with the current design - it's one of the better looking weapons I've come up with in my opinion. A little bigger than I would have liked, but you can't really slap an RPG launcher onto a rifle and expect it to remain titchy. And yes, I do realise placing the rifle barrel significantly lower than the sights may make it trickier to line up accurate shots.

Monday, July 17, 2017

12 Months of Dogs Of War - July (Mitch) 02

For a long time the outfits worn in battle by Mitch and his team were - for all intents and purposes - their civvies. I decided that this had to change. Since they are an official part of a well organised military force, they needed a uniform to give them an image of professionalism and discipline. Their regular outfits made them look more like a mercenary team, which was misleading juxtaposition against the good guys - who are an independent unit - use a standardised uniform. Plus, a common uniform means I only have to design it once and don't have to come up with different designs for all the characters. For a while the battle suits the good guys wear were all different. I'm glad I later standardised it.

The uniform of Mitch and his team is based on the attire their human counterparts wear, but with a few alterations to make them stand out and be unique, with the practical reason being that the equipment allocated to them is custom designed for their duties.

Friday, July 7, 2017

12 Months of Dogs Of War - July (Mitch)

Ooh, we're into the bad guys now. I like this bunch. In a way I find them more interesting than the good guys. They have complexity about them. They're not your typical 'we are the bad guys and aggression is our only recognised emotion.'

This is Mitch Haettennschweiler (named after a font I saw in Microsoft Word) and is the leader for the team of dogs formed to fight the Halo Blades Squadron (HBS). In the same way Peter Edgewood is based off my favourite dog breed (Border Collie), Mitch is based of the next favourite, a German Shepherd. He is intelligent and strong, making him a dangerous adversary.

I'm not quite sure where the inspiration came from to create a rival team for the HBS. Maybe I just thought a group of dogs for the bad guys was appropriate.

Mitch was also a good friend to Peter, both of them having trained at the same military organisation. Yes, I know - two characters once friends and now bitter enemies - highly cliche. This rivalry has become a slight problem. It's annoyingly another case where I'm putting focus on Peter as a main character when it really should be on Stylene. If anything, Stylene should be Mitch's nemesis - leader vs leader and all that. The problem is while both are shrewd and clever team leaders, Stylene is in no way a physical match for Mitch. I'm not trying to be sexist in saying a female can't beat a male, but facing the reality that a German Shepherd would pound a fox into the floor. 

One thing I like about Mitch is the expressiveness I can get from him. There's something about markings around the eyes that sells it. I think maybe it helps define shape in the face or something. Look at the characters from any Disney animation. A lot of them have eye markings, regardless of whether or not the animal species they're based off actually do have markings around the eyes. So obviously it's doing something to help.

Oh, by the way, despite his surname and the fact he is a German Shepherd, Mitch is not German. Well, he does have German heritage, but he was born and raised in England.

Monday, June 26, 2017

12 Months of Dogs Of War - June (Myst) 04

I've run out of things to say about Myst, but here's a picture anyway. Posting four pictures a month for each character was a goal I wanted to achieve in the first place. Also taking the opportunity to practice my Photoshop colouring skills. Still got a ways to go. Especially with blending.

That wraps up the good guys showcase. Next month - we start to see the bad guys. Oo-er!

Monday, June 19, 2017

12 Months of Dogs Of War - June (Myst) 03

An idea that I've been playing around with recently is giving Myst a butterfly 'pet'. I say it in inverted commas as it isn't a living creature, but a little robot, built for Myst as a birthday present. She likes butterflies and this is something of a physical extension to her personality. It has practical uses as well - as a robot, it contains cameras and for all intents and purposes fills the role of a small surveillance drone. It can spy on the enemy without drawing too much attention. Well, as long as they don't look at it too closely. 

While it does have a few personality traits - courtesy of its AI, I'm not intending for this to be considered an additional character for the team, but the idea of a robot butterfly pet presents itself with a few gags to use throughout the series and I feel it's interesting enough to merit inclusion.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

12 Months of Dogs Of War - June (Myst) 02

Myst was the last member of the good guys that I came up with, first appearing in an abandoned episode idea. The Halo Blades (bar Peter Edgewood) had been captured and Pete gains the help of four other dogs to rescue them. Myst was one of these extra characters. I can't remember if this was related to it, but another idea involved the HBS recruiting a few dozen extra auxiliary members for their team. I felt that the HBS needed a much larger force to pull of the successes against a powerful militarised foe. But this aspect was eventually relegated to the cutting room floor as I was ending up with a ridiculous amount of characters.

The next phase of including Myst came about in the first episode of the second season. She was to be a new member for the bad guys (who we will begin to see, starting from next month). At this point in development for Dogs Of War, I had the idea that the bad doggie characters undergo extensive genetic engineering and cybernetic enhancement between seasons one and two. The HBS convince Myst to join the good guys, using the argument that the bad guys may force her to undergo similar modifications, which she didn't want. This was another concept I abandoned, freeing up Myst once again.

Finally I just had her be one of Stylene's friends who joins her to help fight the good fight.

Myst had also been imagined as being the 'sexy' female character. This is something I had hoped to achieve whenever I created a female character, but each time I tried to sexy them up, my drawing style couldn't match what I had wanted. I'm much better at drawing now, but the sexiness factor has since fallen out of favour. She was also going to be a love interest to Peter Edgewood, but I later had other ideas for Peter and made Myst a love interest to Sledge instead.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

12 Months of Dogs Of War - June (Myst)

This little cutie is Myst Sheppard. She probably has the most thoroughly developed personality out of all my Dogs Of War characters. She's a bit of a free spirit, she's an environmentalist, she's spiritual, a little bit feminist, has an open mind about the world, is a positive thinker, is into astrology - you get the idea.

You might be wondering then, why oh why would someone like that be brandishing an assault rifle and a willing participant in a story about war? Well, while she cares about the environment, she believes all issues stem from overpopulation and that war is a speedy resolution to the problem. She also adopts a 'survival of the fittest' mentality. She won't hesitate passing up an opportunity if it benefits her. This doesn't mean she's completely without morals - it mostly manifests itself at battlefield looting.

Not that it really matters and I'm sure you don't care anyway, I've slightly misrepresented Myst's dog breed. Regarding animal characters in my Dogs Of War world, I try to adhere to their size relations. By that I mean characters based on small and large animals remain small and large respectively. Myst is a Shetland Sheepdog. These are small dogs, roughly terrier sized. This would mean she should be as tall as Stylene (a fox), however she is reasonably taller than that. Mainly this is because she is also Sledge's girlfriend and I didn't want there to be too much of a size difference between the two. The other misrepresentation is her intelligence. Shetland Sheepdogs are actually rated in the top ten smartest dog breeds (No. 1 is the Border Collie - Peter Edgewood's breed, incidentally). Myst isn't stupid by any means, but not super intelligent as her breed would suggest.

Design-wise, I'm still on the fence about whether to have her wear a skirt or trousers. Trousers would be easier for animation, but a skirt helps to differentiate her from the other characters.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

12 Months of Dogs Of War - May (Sarah) 02

For quite some time there was an additional member of the Halo Blades team (yes, I still insist on calling them 'Halo Blades'. Deal with it). As I continued developing my Dogs Of War ideas, I came to the conclusion that I had too many main characters. I decided to cut the one I felt had the least significance and importance among the characters and series. I took all his lines and his unofficial role as the team's chef and gave them to Sarah. It was quite a shock how easy it was to replace him with Sarah. It turned out none of his dialogue was specific to his character - anyone could have said it. A bit of a shame, as the character I cut was technically, one of the first I created, even predating Dogs Of War itself by a few years. But not to worry, the culling showed me just how superfluous he was and it was nice to be able to bolster Sarah's presence and build her up a bit more as a character.

Friday, May 19, 2017

12 Months of Dogs Of War - May (Sarah)

This is Sarah Edgewood - Pete's younger sister. The colours of her outfit aren't final, but I may end up sticking with it out of sheer laziness.

I developed Sarah shortly after I developed Peter. I figured I should give him some form of family. Sarah's much more chipper in personality than Peter is. As she is younger, she doesn't  remember being orphaned as vividly as Pete and hasn't affected her in the same way.

I first had Sarah as part of a mercenary team separate from Pete's unit. She and Pete crossed paths a few times in season 1 of Dogs Of War and I think due to various plot related reasons she joins Pete's team maybe by season 2. After a while I scrapped this concept and just had Sarah and Pete working together right from the start. It made more sense that way.

Apologies for the late entry this month. I'm currently working as an animator for a studio which has been taking up a lot of my time and am struggling to get around to working on my own projects - especially my animations for my YouTube channel.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

12 Months of Dogs Of War - April (Peter) 03

Ooh, managing to squeeze in another picture this month. Getting a bit closer to what I had wished to achieve in the first place.

So here's Peter Edgewood again, but this time fully decked out in armour. This is why - on this blog - I tend to avoid drawing my characters with their helmets on. It gets rather difficult to tell who's who. The whole point of '12 Months Of Dogs Of War' is to introduce and showcase my characters and would rather not have their faces covered up all the time.

The reason I have my characters with so much armour is for plausible survivability. I tend to get a bit irritated whenever I watch a TV show or film where the bad guys always miss shooting their target, especially when they're trying to be portrayed as a powerful force. I wanted the enemy in Dogs Of War to be a dangerous and competent threat. For that I needed them to be able to shoot accurately and yet for my guys to all be still alive by the end of each episode. They're still vulnerable to heavy weapons fire, but fortunately the average soldier they come across doesn't carry the firepower to instakill the good guys.

That thing on the side of the helmet houses a torch and camera, in case you're wondering.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

12 Months of Dogs Of War - April (Peter) 02

Yes, Peter Edgewood has a sword.

Yes, he does sometimes carry it with him into battle.

Yes, that does mean he literally brings a sword to a gun fight.

The sword's something Pete was issued as part of his military training back in the day. Though generally considered more of a status symbol than for practical use, Pete likes to have it with him regardless.

The design journey was pretty swift. The initial inspiration came from the Goron's Knife from video game Legend Of Zelda Majora's Mask back from the ol' Nintendo 64 days. The two look nothing alike, but I started there and worked my way to what you see here. Why is the tip designed that way? No idea. I guess my intention was to make it a bit more unique. Again, status symbol over practicality.

Friday, March 31, 2017

12 Months of Dogs Of War - April (Peter)

Yes, as you can see from the date on this picture, it's an older one. I don't think I've put this one up on my blog before, but rather my Tumblr.

Oh why oh why did I name this character after myself? Ego? Well, he's not entirely named after myself, but the damage has been done regardless.

So this is Peter Edgewood - the character who I have developed more back story for than all the other Dogs Of War characters combined, to the point where I've even developed a prequel series that follows his origin story. Pete has gained way too much favouritism from me over the years. He's the smartest of all the characters, the best soldier and the best dog breed (Border Collie, naturally). Many episode story-lines have revolved around him which has been annoying - Stylene's supposed to be the central character so if anything the focus should be more on her.

Pete's the outsider whom the Halo Blades Squadron find early on and recruit into the team. He's the one that provides all their high tech equipment (including the battlesuits as you see here). Pete was subjected to a cliche at a young age (ie orphaned) and other misfortunes which has left him wary when it comes to making friends. Though over time he does warm up to his team mates and becomes a potential love interest to Stylene.

Friday, March 24, 2017

12 Months of Dogs Of War - March (Josh) 02

Josh ended up a bit skinnier here than he's supposed to be. Oh no! Don't tell me I'm regressing to how I originally drew these guys!

Anyway, here's Josh donned in his battle suit and with his machine gun weapon of choice. He does on occasion use a rocket launcher, but is most often found with his MG.

I have sometimes wondered if  the Halo Blades' (that's the name of the good guys. I don't think I've mentioned this on my blog, probably because I fear the name sounds a little silly. But I'm not changing it, so there!) suits should be different colours for each member. When they have their helmets on, it can be tricky to identify who's who. I have tried to distinguish each member by having a special emblem (which you can see on the left side of the breast plate) but that may not be clearly visible in the heat of battle. Having the suits different colours might make it easier, but I would be limited by a restricted colour palette (ie colours practical for camouflage, etc)

When I was first coming up with battlesuit design, each member of the Halo Blades (screw you, that's what I'm calling them!) had a completely different suit design to each other, both in shape and colour. Becoming increasingly tired with having to come up with a new design for each character, I decided to standardise it and colour it grey.

They did start off being completely clad in rigid armour (the grey bits) but was later altered so the midriff section was the more flexible kevlar-like fabric (the darker bits) as well as the shoes. This was mainly to make it easier to animate.

Monday, March 13, 2017

12 Months of Dogs Of War - March (Josh)

I had planned to post my Dogs Of War characters in rough order of their rank within their teams, but realised it's more prudent to do it in the order I created them, as often describing the development process of one character may require referencing another character, which would be harder if we haven't seen them yet.

Anyway, here's Josh Cyril - the big, tough, slightly immature archetype of a character. Josh was the only character (other than Stylene) that was brought into to the Dogs Of War fold during the early stages of development. Back in the year 2000, when I was playing around with my characters, I thought of the idea of having them in a school setting - an idea inspired by the Warner Bros animated series Detention, which was been broadcast locally during that year. Of course, the only characters I had at that time were Stylene and one other (who didn't make it into DoW) so I needed to come up with some more. Grabbing myself the book 'How to draw dogs, Puppies and Wolves' by Christopher Hart, I came up with a bunch of additional characters, Josh being one of them. Josh had initially been planned to be the love interest to Stylene. Back then, the size difference wasn't as substantial so it wasn't an awkward paring, but over time the idea of these two being in a relationship fell out of favour. As mentioned last month, Sledge then became the love interest for Stylene, later replaced by Peter Edgewood. However several times in my DoW scripts I have had Stylene and Josh teaming up and it was something I felt worked really well. I realised that this was because their differences complimented each other perfectly (I've posted a blog entry in the past that covers this in more detail).

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

12 Months of Dogs Of War - February (Sledge) 02

Sledge entered the Dogs Of War family fairly early on. He was the third character I created (Stylene and Josh were 1st and 2nd respectively). He appeared in a comic I made when I was playing around with my characters. He was a prisoner rescued by Stylene and her friends during a raid on an enemy base.

Anyway, Sledge had been planned to be boyfriend to Stylene, a concept I later dropped in favour for Peter Edgewood being Stylene's BF. Sledge was also written as an orphan, but I also had two other orphan characters and felt this was overdoing it. So Sledge then became a childhood friend of Stylene's, had a proper family and haven't thought much about it since then.

Much to my annoyance, I actually own Sledge's attire. I was out buying shirts and found something I quite liked. It wasn't until sometime afterwards I realised the shirt was exactly the same as Sledge wears and when combined with my black trousers... well at least his shoes are different to mine. I think I'm in way too deep with Dogs of War. Oh well!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

12 Months Of Dogs Of War - February (Sledge)

I don't often draw Sledge, which is part of the reason it took me so long to put up an image of him for this month. As far as characters go, he doesn't do anything special - by that I mean he doesn't have any peculiar personality quirks or traits to make him stand out like my other 'Dogs Of War' characters.

But anyway, here is Sledge, second in command (more or less) of the good guys. He is also a wizz when it comes to computers (he fills the techy role of the team) and a good pilot. He has a broad range of weapon skills, being a general all-rounder in combat. He is the only 'Dogs Of War' character that doesn't have a preferred weapon type.

At the moment he doesn't have a surname. He did once, it was 'Twycross' (a name inspired by the Mechwarrior computer games). The reason for dropping the surname was that I felt maybe it was wrong for him. Sledge is a dingo, which by all effect would make him an indigenous Australian. 'Twycross' doesn't really suggest Aborigine and I'm wondering if I should choose something else.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

12 months of Dogs Of War - January (Stylene) 02

One of these days I'll put up a picture of one of my 'Dogs Of War' characters wearing their armour with the helmet. Problem is that I want to show off my characters and the helmet makes it harder to identify who they are.

Anyway, here's another picture for 'Stylene January'. Gotta lift my game - January's almost over and I've only put up two pictures of her so far.
The sub-machine gun is something I sketched up randomly one day. I like the design, but don't have any plans to use it with my DoW series. Stylene's weapons of choice are dual pistols and a sniper rifle. The idea being that Stylene isn't physically strong - compared to the other DoW characters - so she wouldn't be able to handle the kickback from the recoil of a fully automatic weapons. Besides, she's the leader of the good guys - her role is more of a leadership one so leaves the heavier firepower to her team mates.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

12 Months of Dogs of War - January (Stylene)

Right - time to start an idea I've had brewing since last year. I have twelve (main) characters for my Dogs Of War series and as there are twelve months to a year, what better than to combine the two? Each month over the course of this year, I plan to bring drawings of each of these characters, with bios and commentary on their development process.

So let's begin with Stylene Arkon. We've seen her a few times on this blog and a couple of times (thus far) on my YouTube channel. This year actually marks her 18th birthday - it was all the way back in late 1999 (November or December, not entirely sure) when I first designed her. She's come a long way in terms of visual design and it's only as recent as last year that I figured out how I wanted her to look. For quite some time there was something that -just- didn't feel right with her design. I was able to pinpoint it to her fringe and knew a slight redesign was in order. After some conceptualisation I came up with what you see here and feel I have finally reached a design I can settle on.