Creating my protagonist

Creating my protagonist

In the early stages of story development, I was imagining six protagonists. These were all archetypes, so I tried combining the traits to narrow them down. As I was watching films for my dissertation, and reading up on character designs, I came across Lilo & Stitch (2002, dir. Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders). I’d seen the film years ago, but when watching it in conjunction with my dissertation research, it opened my eyes to a new world of character design.

Lumis origin. By Benita Kvinlaug. All rights reserved.

Lumis origin. By Benita Kvinlaug. All rights reserved.

As I said, so far I had been working with archetypes. All the texts I read that praised Lilo & Stitch, were praising them on the terms of avoiding archetypes. The directors of the film explained the depth of their characters being built by allowing them to possess a little bit of good, and a little bit of bad. This makes sense, and as the film duration is expanding in length, the audience has even more time to get to know a character. -So why would I limit my characters to simple archetypes?

Story thumbnails of the three girls after washing up on the island. Lumis character is shown with blue marker, Wills with red and Violas with violet. By Benita Kvinlaug. All rights reserved.

Story thumbnails of the three girls after washing up on the island. Lumi’s character is shown with blue marker, Will’s with red and Viola’s with violet. By Benita Kvinlaug. All rights reserved.

I do think archetypes are important, but maybe they shouldn’t be as exclusive as those of the past. When fairy tales used to travel by popular speech, archetypes were useful because they were easy to remember and spoke a universal language. Also, I’m guessing, fictional character profiles will probably expand in acceptance in accordance with the acceptance of diverging, actual personalities.

Lumi breakdown table.

Lumi breakdown table.

The short character profile breakdown above shows my brainstorming for how to expand Lumi’s character. I don’t want her to be good, innocent and helpless. I want her helplessness to come from herself, not from society and from her archetype. And I want it to be something that she can overcome through strength and motivation, not something that defines her.

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Early Lumi sketch. By Benita Kvinlaug. Al rights reserved

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Early Lumi sketch. By Benita Kvinlaug. Al rights reserved

Early story concept sketch: Lumi after shipwreck. By Benita Kvinlaug. Al rights reserved.

Early story concept sketch: Lumi after shipwreck. By Benita Kvinlaug. Al rights reserved.

Lumi sketch. By Benita Kvinlaug. All rights reserved.

Lumi sketch. By Benita Kvinlaug. All rights reserved.

Lumi design.

Lumi design.

Lumi early colour sketch. By Benita Kvinlaug. All rights reserved.

Lumi early colour sketch. By Benita Kvinlaug. All rights reserved.

There’s one dilemma I’m facing on Lumi’s colour palette:

  1. Blue with blonde hair.
  2. Green with reddish hair. I like this palette better, but I’m worried she would stick out too much from the background designs. I want her to be noticeable, but not so much that it seems like she’s different than Plant. I want them to appear to have a similar soul.

The reason for these choices is: I want to dress her in a contrast, because it’s visually intriguing. Now, my forest design has a palette of matte blues and violets. Green would send the wrong message: make it sharp, and it’s alive; make it murky, and it gives an impression of disease. Blue shows sadness and sorrow. A touch of magenta adds warmth. This is the impression I want the lonely monster to send out. I’m still trying to solve this problem, and I find the theory of colour fascinating: how dressing my character is different colours can send completely different messages.