“Fat Joe”

I’m currently taking a character design class online through My instructor is Stephen Silver, a brilliant character designer with a long list of credits in TV animation.

Our first assignment was to create a character called Fat Joe, so that Stephen could get an idea of where each student’s skill level is. The description of Fat Joe was given to us as follows:

You are to design a concept sketch of Fat Joe based on the play, The Long Voyage Home. Take it as far as you like.

SCENE—The bar of a low dive on the London water front—a squalid, dingy room dimly lighted by kerosene lamps placed in brackets on the walls At the far end of the bar stands Fat Joe, the proprietor, a gross bulk of a man with an enormous stomach. His face is red and bloated, his little piggish eyes being almost concealed by rolls of fat. The thick fingers of his big hands are loaded with cheap rings and a gold watch chain of cable-like proportions stretches across his checked waistcoat.

I didn’t know much about The Long Voyage Home (i.e. time period, storyline, etc.), and I couldn’t find much visual reference on the internet. As far as I can tell, it has something to do with fishermen (the kind that wear wool coats and stocking caps), and that John Wayne starred in the movie version.

Fat Joe is described as a dapper Englishman (waistcoat, jewelry, gold watch, etc.), but in my mind I couldn’t picture the owner of a “low dive” that is “squalid and dingy” being such a classy dresser. But that turned out to be a good challenge as it forced me to really think through the character. Who is this guy? Why does he dress that way if he runs such a dumpy, greasy establishment? Is he a back-room mafia type who owns the place but doesn’t run it? Is he a washed-up socialite? Is he a B-list scoundrel trying to impress people with the one greasy suit that he owns? The more I thought about him, the more I wanted to play around and explore possibilities.

Unfortunately, time is not a luxury for me right now. I’d love to have spent several days on this assignment, but I did the best I could with the few hours I had. I don’t think I nailed the character. I certainly would have liked to keep playing and experimenting. But for now I’m fairly happy with how the first drawing turned out (although he looks more French than English). The fourth one isn’t bad either.


9 thoughts on “ “Fat Joe”

  1. I can’t believe you’re taking a class on drawing. It’s like Yoda going to Obi-Wan for a few tips. You’re both masters already! Anyway, great stuff. I think the character dresses like that in a veil attempt to fool any patrons. He wants to appear respectable, you know, to give his run-down joint an air of legitimacy. Perhaps the attire needs to be tired and worn-out to match the establishment because he’s not fooling anyone. Just a thought! Keep up the great blog. I visit often!

  2. Thanks for the kind words guys.

    Terry, I’m very flattered but I would not consider myself to be nearly as skilled as Stephen Silver. I dabble in character design but he is a master at it. Besides, I’m sure even he would agree that you never stop learning or get to a place where you have mastered everything. The day I stop learning and growing as an artist will be the day my work starts becoming stale and boring.

    But thanks very much for the compliment!

  3. I was kinda thinking what Terry said, but it’s great that you have such ambition to fully develop and push your own skills as far as you’re able. It’s inspiring and a great reminder. Thank you.

    By the way, those “fat joes” are just awesome, I like the top one best, but they’re all great.

    I’ll be back to hear how your courses continue to go.

  4. Pingback: “Fat Joe” (Final) « Cedric’s Blog-O-Rama!

  5. Pingback: My Character Design Assignments « Cedric’s Blog-O-Rama!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s