This is Chad Hurd, Lead Character designer for FX’s new show ARCHER. I’m here to give you a glimpse into our drawing process. I’m going to demonstrate on a photo of Rob McElhenney, Mac from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.
01 The drawing style of Archer is very realistic and we use as much reference material as possible. The end result looks like a 1960′s comic book come to life. To keep the artwork consistent between our artists, we take reference photos of our lead roles, and use Adobe Illustrator to trace over them for a base. These are only simplified representations as too much detail can kill a drawing.
02 I start by drawing the different areas of the face on different layers. I do this so that later in the process I can add different mouth shapes and blinks. This enables the animators to give the characters expressions and movement. For right now, let’s concentrate on getting a base image that looks something like Rob.
03-04 Here I’m drawing Rob’s basic facial shapes. It’s almost like I’m drawing for a comic book or a caricature. My golden rule is the simpler the better. One really strong and descriptive line does much more than ten unnecessary ones.
05-06 I continue adding features to his face until it starts to resemble something that looks like Rob. I take a look and decide what features work, what doesn’t, and how I can fit him into the style of the show.
Next time I’ll start adding the details and shadows (simplifying where it’s needed) to create my finished base file for Rob’s head.