The further along I move in this project, the most confidence I gain with my work as well as my colorist. I feel like an animation director whenever I talk to him about what we’re doing and seeing the fruition of it is a great feeling. Make stuff. #parttimeshuffle
Next month’s Part Time Shuffle Dev Blog update will deal solely on this character, Uma. No last name—doesn’t need it. Uma’s the other half of the jazz-fusion duo “Mii & U”, with lead singer Minami Kadena.
KENDRICK LAMAR - [SING ABOUT ME] - (Instrumental) (by magicpuppy90)
Perfect comic work music
KUNOICHI DESIGN CORNER
[ Eccentric Jargon Babylon] -
DESIGN FOCUS - MINAMI KADENA
So this is the first entry in a while for the development blog for Part Time Shuffle, and the main reason for that is the fact I’ve been too busy drawing the comic and working with my colorist and, planning, planning, planning. Don’t get me wrong I’m definitely not complaining! It’s been a great ride so far and I look forward to more of it! I’m really excited about this project and I’m grateful for the support I’ve received, and the follows on the Part Time Shuffle Facebook page as well as the Tumblr page (Beefy Kunoichi). Thanks everyone…but let’s get to the meat of the matter here…
Or should I say, beer of the matter? Specifically orange-flavored beer…
Today’s blog update introduces the final design for Minami Kadena, one of Mari Ohura’s close assistants in running her mini yakuza militia, TEAM LOVELY DEAD. The final character design was well received and I thought, since it seems like everyone enjoys this character design, I’d like to talk about it in a bit more detail regarding its initial incarnation and the inevitable change in art direction regarding the design. Should be fun, right?!
Well let’s get started! *VERMOUTH CHANGE!*
Initially when designing Minami, she was part of a defunct rock band called Grave Shoot and in designing her the aesthetic was suited to be a bit more typical. She looked a lot like a member from a goth band that fought with a croquet stick. The design was fun but I felt that it was bit too typical.
Man, my older stuff does NOT age well…>_<
As development for Part Time Shuffle shifted in a slightly different direction, I felt it was time to redesign Minami and went through various passes. The experience of seeing a character’s journey regarding their design can be pretty interesting. It tells you a lot about where your frame of reference is but it also shows you a lot about what you want to say with your characters.
It’s not just about putting them in something that articulates a very basic concept of what they represent. Within all the world building that anyone does as a creator, the characters you create are people. They have voices, feelings, goals, and experiences that constitute who they are and why they are who they are. Fine tuning Minami’s design was a catalyst for me actually changing aspects of the story that involved both Minami, and Uma since they are linked together from being in Grave Shoot.
In the revision, Minami was the lead singer in a band called Jeff’s Cadets which is a play on the American rock band from the 60’s, Jefferson Airplane. Jeff’s Cadets created music in the same light as Jefferson Airplane but from a more contemporary perspective in relation to the era they were born in. Although Minami enjoyed being in Jeff’s Cadets, she felt restricted within their limits and expressed interest changing the direction of their music with Uma in support of her sentiment.
Jefferson Airplane (Grace Slick in the middle as boss as ever)
(Grace Slick is fucking awesome…her face and that bird she is flippin’ is more dignified than Dudley bludgeoning your head with a jar of Grey Poupon)
The rest of the bandmates refused, expressing that it would be akin to “selling out” and wouldn’t be tolerated, thus disbanding Jeff’s Cadets.
Minami and Uma went on to collaborate on their debut jazz fusion album called, “Mii & U” and awaited distribution. While on vacation from recording, Mari befriends Minami at a coffee shop after a discussion about her fashion sense… (I won’t reveal what else happens but it’ll be pretty fun.)
As anyone can tell, fashion is a vital, visual component to characters in Part Time Shuffle, not just in regard to character design but in what it expresses about individual characters and its conduciveness to accentuate dynamism in fight scenes. When redesigning Minami, I wanted to create someone that could be initially similar to Mari; it should be a character that piques Mari’s interest and, in a sense, challenges her to be even better than what she is. Sort of like a friendly rival/crush but with no truly obvious emotional context.
If there’s one thing that Mari likes besides herself, is someone that reminds her of herself.
Stubborn, but distinctively motivated by their own agenda. Living as if the world revolves around them, but the rest of the world just doesn’t know yet.
Believes that if they have pluses and minuses, that means that their pluses aren’t strong enough.
The difference was that I wanted the character be more subdued, like their presence was something that didn’t need to be expressed with a defiant stomp into a room, but more of a quiet but confident entrance.
I remember doing some sketches listening to Shiny Disco Club (Millenium Disco Vol. 2) and coming across one of my favorite tracks (Eternal featuring Darius). I started working on the initial design and it made sense. So I drew a much more slender character but with the intention to still retain the dynamism that works in the series.
Mari is a much louder (turnt up, if you will) character. There is no lowering of her volume, no mute button…only max volume. She is very, “Mari is here, don’t fuck with her—oh wait she’s already in your face, oh ok you’re done”.
Minami’s cadence is much quieter but just as potent if provoked. When designing her color scheme, I took that into consideration as well. I went with colors that were muted intentionally but still compelling to look at, and they had to be conducive with her obsession with fall fashion. Mari’s palette is really strong and has less of a variety of colors, whereas Minami’s palette is more diverse but still very subdued in comparison.
As anyone can tell, I really think that idea of a woman in a suit is very a powerful image. I really dig that shit. Even just a blazer creates really nice shapes that I think can flatter a lot of different body types and really make someone look and feel powerful. Mari, of course, already has a suit but with fashion there’s always another variable to try that can still make one character unique from another.
Janelle Monae in a suit is incredible.
Christina Hendricks in a suit is incredible.
Charlize in a suit is just… mmmmfffff.
All of them are very powerful but distinct. This is what I love about suits.
“If you are a woman and you are reading this and you don’t own a suit…for the love of God, try that shit out. Please believe me!” #chappelle
So when designing Minami, with all this in mind there was no one I could look into other than one of my favorite designers from New York, Diane von Fürstenberg (if you don’t know who she is, she’s KIND OF AMAZING—she inspired Andy Warhol…kinda serious). Now when it comes to Fürstenberg, I didn’t like much of what she did in the early 2000’s because all that shit looked like CURTAIN VIOLENCE, but somewhere around 2011-2012ish (maybe pre-fall 2012) she kinda calmed down and streamlined her work, and had really interesting color choices and the designs looked like people could wear them anywhere in comparison. Regardless of that, her recent approach to designing clothing was influential in developing Minami’s final design.
That said, I still streamlined it a tad but I guess the “color explosion” she tends to do was still something I took inspiration from for her blazer but everything as was a bit more somber. The jeans I felt made it a bit more accessible within the overall design.
It’s pretty obvious Fürstenberg is above putting jeans in her designs. She was a fucking princess at one point in her life so I guess that makes sense, right?
So there you have it. A culmination of a bunch of shit that I like for very specific reasons, gave birth to a finalized character design that I really enjoy and hope that you do as well.
The last thing I forgot to mention was the connection regarding her love for orange-flavored beer…it’s actually a bit of a poke at myself. In general, I hate beer—and there are only a couple that I find tolerable:
Asahi Super Dry
Blue Moon, being more accessible tends to be my weapon of choice at any bar that has it. I enjoy the somewhat orange flavor that and it makes it more enjoyable for me than other beers. Blue Moon is a Belgian beer. Fürstenberg is also Belgian. :)
Anyways, this concludes today’s blog entry. I appreciate you taking the time to gain some insight on how I approached this particular character design and hopefully you’ll want to know more as Part Time Shuffle develops!
Have a good day!
Alec Carlsson - Paris Friend Chicken (J Paul Getto Remix) (by Calvin West)
This has been my comicking fuel for just about the entire weekend.