“Fat Joe” (Final)


This is it. I’ve finished my nine-week character design course with Stephen Silver over at It’s been an amazing experience. Stephen is not only a brilliant character designer but also an inspiring teacher.

Our very first assignment was to design a character based on Fat Joe from the play The Long Voyage Home. We were given this description:

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.

Based on that description, I did these rough sketches. Now, nine weeks later, we were asked to return to that assignment and do it again, this time with clean-up and color. Since this was our last class, it was a chance to apply everything we’d learned. I can see a clear improvement over my earlier efforts. At the time I was rather proud of them, now I see mistakes and shortcomings that I would have never noticed had I not taken Stephen’s class. It’s always helpful to have another set of eyes evaluating your work, and Stephen’s eyes are more discerning and well-trained than just about anyone.

I would highly recommend this class to anyone interested in cartooning and animation, especially if you want to get work as a character designer. I got more out of this class than I did out of some of my semesters of art school. Of course like anything else you get out of it what you put into it, but if you take it seriously and do the work (plan to set aside at least 5-6 hours a week) it will be a terrific investment.

You can sign up for future classes at the official website.

To read posts about my other assignments, go to the search box at the upper right-hand corner of my blog and type in the word “schoolism”.