No wait! ...Neither the time, nor place.
This is a post about my work with Mumette, so pull up a chair, put on your reading glasses and take it all in
The story begins at a mutual friends birthday party, and allowing me near a laptop with WiFi. I was initially tasked with song collection, but decided to show Sundae Afternoon to a new, and captive audience. I ended up Bookmarking the page and the night continued without much further talk of animation.
A few weeks later I received a message from said mutual friend telling me that the owner of the laptop, Emma, had been looking for someone to assist her with some illustrative work for a website, and my name had come up in conversation. This coupled with the blog site being saved on her Macbook made me a pretty accessible option.
A few more weeks followed, and on a late winter evening, over some hot chocolate *standard*, Emma told me what about the Mumette project.
I doubt I can do it justice but essentially, Mumette has been launched to help a demographic that has been overlooked, and possibly even marginalised. This group is young mothers, roughly aged 18-25. She told me how the sites that currently are either targeting the high end "yummy mummy" market, where as others struggle with cluttered website design. What Mumette would do is establish itself as the ideal site where mothers could share experiences and advice, attempt to abolish a negative stereotype around young mums, and also recognise the needs of their particular audience.
Whilst the planning behind the project was very impressive, there was yet to be much visual work done. The feedback I received was that there needed to be a strong visual identity that was integral to the site, with a clean and modern feel. I would be tasked with designing characters that would portray a sense of youth, but overall something different that wasn't very prevalent in other sites. We discussed the "7 Questions of Character", a technique I mentioned in my Sundae Afternoon journal, and the overall view was that it would be a young woman, with a low-income job or possibly unemployed with aspirations to become a good parent, and also embrace their youth. After the meeting we went our separate ways and I got to thinking more about how to design the characters.
I took to the Wacom, and had a bit of a block. I realised I'd never developed any female characters. I suppose you put a bit of yourself into your work, subconsciously or otherwise, which manifests itself in the fact that aside from the mother from Kitchen Kapers all my characters, in my films, have been male.
I took Wesley Louis' advice, and tried experimenting with shapes to get facial features. After a bit of mixing and matching I came up with a set of 5 designs. I wanted the character's to have elements of realism to them, and not be overly stylised which may have hindered the variation in my design, but I felt that they would be easier for an audience to relate to. I'm not saying that people can't relate to cartoons but I assumed that as the character is interacting through movement, unlike animation, the viewer might not want to work as hard to engage with them.
|Fab 5?: Early stages of development|
|Amy: "... Her long hair will be her security blanket..."|
|Megan: "... Going to be a stay at home Mum and avid Mumette"|
|Katie: "She's wearing a big baggy shirt dress to hide and sign of her pregnancy."|
After more email discussions, going back and forth, the characters had a bit of a redo. There was a bit of dissatisfaction on both sides that the "Mumettes" didn't feel very energetic, and lacked a bit of a spark. Personally, I think this was due to the nature of the character design, and my focus more on proportion and incorporating the fact the characters should be pregnant, than giving them more personality and vigour.
On realising this, I searched for more reference photos that had the aspirational vibe that we were after, and in addition to the visual information from the graphic designer, came up with a livelier approach.
|Megan: A bit more movement|
|Katie: More variation|
There were changes to the brief at different stages but they were all manageable, such as the reduction in the amount of characters, and the way that they needed to be modified for later use. I think I'll have to spend a bit more time life drawing, but moreover, people watching to get some more doodles done, so that I'm more au fait with creating new characters, or designs. Overall, it was a lengthy process due to my own schedule at the time, but I feel it will put me in good stead for future work. I hope you all check out the site, and that some of you can engage with it as it's a great project, that I'm sure will speak to so many people.
Feel free to comment below.