Creating a Cartoon: Part 1 – The Concept

I wanted to fill up my spare time at work with something fun, creative, and challenging. After I saw Toy Story all those years ago, I became fascinated by the possibilities of creating characters and worlds entirely in a digital environment. I was also struggling to come up with an idea to blog about. First world problems! It occurred to me that I can kill two birds with one stone.

Let’s create a digital cartoon mascot! Then, I’ll make a multi-part blog, detailing all the steps involved. Bam – BAM!

The first step was figuring out what our mascot would be. I asked everyone in the office to lend me their ideas, and the responses were overwhelmingly feline. You see, we have a LOT of cats between us.


I was moments away from making it official, but then the man in charge made a point; some of us are dog owners and a cat mascot wouldn’t be fair.

I give upWelp, my job is too hard. I quit.

Thankfully, he’s not one to criticize without giving a solution (the hallmark of a great leader). In what I thought was a joke, he sent this photo:

lesula-998x1024No, no, no, no….. no!

Creeeeeeepy! It’s a new species of monkey that was discovered in the Congo jungle. After several minutes of uncomfortable giggles, I realized that this was actually a great suggestion. Monkeys are smart, crazy, and skilled… just like us! Monkey it is!

The next step was figuring out what he’d be wearing (anthropomorphizing animals without clothes always seemed weird to me. Where are your pants, Bugs!). A monkey in a tux and monocle is overplayed (not to mention pretentious), so we figured he should probably dress similar to us folk at the office. We keep it pretty chill here at KEEN. It’s time to get sketching!


Like most designers, I like to start the concept process on paper. Paper is more tactile, it smells awesome, and it’s kinda romantic to do something the old-school way. Sketching on paper also has the added benefit of making “happy accidents.” It’s too easy to undo your mistakes on the computer and I’ve always like seeing the sketch lines in a drawing. After I had the sketch complete, I scanned it and colored it in photoshop.

SketchHipster monkey thought he was cool before you did.

Now the easy part is done. On to the hard, but equally fun time of modelling, retopologizing, and texturing the 3D model. Here’s a sneak peek at Part 2 – The Model:


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