Important decision time

If you’ve been reading HE for a while you no doubt have noticed that I play with the character designs pretty often. The truth is, I am still trying to settle on a style that I am happy with. The comic is young, and these are care free, experimental times so I’ve just been having fun with it. Well, that’s over. It’s time to grow up, get serious and start drawing my silly cartoons consistently like a man.

The top row in the image below shows the direction I am leaning towards. The bottom row are pretty realistic caricatures of me, Josh, and Eli. I drew them from photos then used them as templates to “cartoonify” the characters.

You will probably at least see the new style (top row) on the next comic. Whether or not it sticks will depend on how pleased I am with it and certainly on your feedback. This is a pretty important decision for me so any thoughts good or bad would be appreciated.

UPDATE:
Since I’m getting some confusing feedback, I assume I wasn’t clear. The TOP row is what I plan to use. The bottom row is the more realistic caricatures that I used for reference. I just posted those so you could see where I was coming from. The top row is close to the style I have been using lately, but more defined. Does that change anyone’s suggestions?

2007-11-29-character-study.png

Also, Fake Steve linked to the last comic (which was about him). Cool guy. You should read his real fake blog.
“Dude, I invented the friggin iPhone. Have you heard of it?”

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8 Comments

  1. I kind of agree with Michael on the change is good thing, but at the same time, I love the more cartoony look that you’ve been employing thus far. Maybe it’s just because the characters aren’t smiling in the newer style (save for maybe Josh), but I prefer the old style because it does seem to lend itself to a more comedic feel that the strip presents.

    As far as using far more established examples, look at Mac Hall or MegaTokyo, or hell, even Penny Arcade. The respective artists didn’t tweak the look until years down the road (if at all). Even then, it was a more gradual evolution.

    For my own character designs, I try to stick with what’s easy to reproduce one drawing to another, so simplicity reigns in that respect. But it’s up to you. While I mentioned my preference for the old style, the newer designs would definitely be an interesting implementation.

  2. I mildly prefer the cartoony Eli (you can see his eyes better), have no strong feelings about the two Joels, but would be very sorry to see the less cartoony Josh start to take over: for one thing, the cartoon Josh always looks a little shocked or outraged (which is both excellent and comicly ironic), whereas the more “realistic” one just looks smug.

    In short, I think you’re going the right way with your recent handling of these caricatures.

    Keep up the good work. You’re my fave webcomic at the moment.

  3. @Michael
    Im sort of coming from the opposite direction in that Im changing them slightly in every single comic and I want to establish (at least for a while) a permanent look for the characters. Definitely not looking for stagnation, just some uniformity.

    @AJ
    Check the update I just posted. I was getting the impression you guys thought I was going with the bottom row. Not the case. I am certainly striving for “easy to reproduce.” Since I draw them differently every time they are quite difficult to reproduce.

    @Djibril
    Yeah, I think I confused everyone. I reread that post and realized I didnt say which row I was going with. The top row is what I want to use. The bottom row are the more realistic ones I did for reference (placement of eyes and noses, etc). I like that you noticed they looked smug. Josh said the only difference is that they werent smiling. Hah! I guess we just look like a bunch of a-holes.

    I really appreciate this being your favorite comic. That means a lot to me. Thanks.

  4. Oh gotcha… in that case, I’m all for it. If Eli didn’t already have it, I’d tell you to give Joel the chinstrap that the more realistic drawing has.

  5. i look gay in the bottom row so you need to keep that top row.

    the most important thing is our expressions in the comics so you’d have to stay with the top row.

  6. @AJ
    Yeah the chinstrap is one of the real life details (including the glasses, and earings) that I omitted from myself to keep the characters distinct, and to not have to draw as much.

    @Eli
    Take out everything after “gay”. And thanks for the input. Now go do or say something funny so I can draw it.

    @Chuck
    They definitely conceal shivs.

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