Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Early Mama Odie

When designing a new character, it is entirely possible to get off to a false start.
And that's no big deal, as long as you haven't fallen in love with your first attempt.
I almost did this with Mama Odie, before we started production on "Princess & the Frog".
The directors Ron Clements and John Musker had given me some ideas about her character and her role in the film. And they were great :
Mama Odie is 197 years old, she is blind and has a seeing eye snake.
Her home is a boat that got stuck in a tree after a storm.
She is the one who can help the lead characters to return to their human form.

These are sketches I made right after the briefing. It was fun to get started on such an eccentric character, and after a while drawing her became easy and very enjoyable. I got to a point where I thought, this might be the character.
When I showed these sketches to Ron and John, their response was positive, but they pointed out a few things I had missed.
At an age of 197 there had to be a way to show bony limbs, she needed dark glasses (I had avoided them in fear of not being able to show emotional change) and she should be a lot shorter. So I visited our story guys Paul Briggs and Toby Shelton, who were working on Mama Odie sequences. Their story sketches showed an older looking character with a twisted sense of homor. I liked how they drew her, and I was able to use that concept for the final design.