I love fantasy. High fantasy, urban fantasy, science fiction, crackpot theories – as long as it’s bizarre, I’ll read it. Watch it. Whatever. So in Sec 1, when coursework seemed like a big fun chance to do whatever you wanted, I decided that my coursework would be firmly rooted in fantasy. That sentence was not an unfunny joke.
I first had an inkling of what I wanted to do my coursework on during the December holidays last year. Being a LOTR fan, I had read the books, watched the movies, then borrowed more books on the art of the movies. Those were really amazing: to see all that concept art, all those designs and hard work just for one film. Okay, one epic blockbuster film, but one film nevertheless. Anyway, the point is that there were a lot of great character/creature designs done for the LOTR movies – especially since the world Tolkien created was so rich and there was so much source material to work from. Having also recently watched Guillermo del Toro’s film Pan’s Labyrinth – which had several really cool monsters in it – and also read a childrens’ book series I found at the library called The Spiderwick Chronicles, I was more or less set on doing creature or character design because…well, it’s cool.
At first I wanted to try designing things for South-east Asia, or even Singapore – like “A Guide to the Native Faeries of Singapore” or something like that. But then in 2009 I discovered the excellent urban fantasy webcomic Gunnerkrigg Court, which features all kinds of interesting creatures inside a very cool school. That was when I decided to focus on designing for the school. Since coursework would be my last big project in this school, I figured I might as well repay the school for all it’s done for me by infesting it with imaginary monsters. I wanted my coursework to be something juniors would look at when they were bored and hanging around the canteen. I wanted my coursework to be engaging, not just pictures that make you scratch your head and guess at the Meaning of Life when you view them. What’s more engaging than books? A lot of things, actually, but I like books, so there.
I kept wanting to do character design even until two months before coursework was due, because I like drawing people, but in the end I abandoned it because coursework was ultimately still an assignment. And in assignments, you do what gets you marks. Not what you want to do. Though you can certainly try.