RUN is a short story that has done laps around my head but has never been put down on paper until now. The idea for RUN actually originated from a dynamic little piece of music that I would visualize and interject my own characters into every time I heard it. Maybe this comes from enjoying the old Warner Brothers cartoons without dialog and only traditional music playing along.
The story plays out like this; a young man wakes up late in his apartment, realizes he has forgotten about an important date, heads out on foot -not just running, but jumping, climbing, and hitching rides on the backs of unsuspecting cars- and eventually makes it to his destination in mostly one piece, but still far from on time. Pretty simple! As the main character makes his way from one environment to another he has his small effects, whether that be grabbing some makeshift flowers, causing an accident in the middle of an intersection, scooping up a loose dog to toss back to it’s owner, or evading a few cops from that accident earlier. In the end, he shows up to a disgruntled woman who we expect to be ‘the date’ that he slept through, but the protagonist slinks by her to hand the flowers over to the real reason he was running. It’s his dear-ol’-mum’s birthday.
The protagonist of this story is a 24 year-old named Greg. He might seem like a hooligan by his looks, but he isn’t actually a delinquent of any sort. He’s tall and somewhat lanky, but well grounded. His strongest characteristics are his moment’s-notice resourcefulness, loyal determination, skills with a comb, and of course his ability to run. He’s lacking however at planning ahead and has the other overall flaws that come with his short attention span and ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ mentality. He isn’t necessarily a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ kind of guy; he is just how he is.
The story takes place on “an earth”. I say this because the setting follows the rules of what we all know, but certainly isn’t anywhere that physically exists and isn’t of a time that is exactly the same as ours. Our main character starts in his home, a small old town kind-of area with plenty of greenery, and then travels into a full scale city, void of any greenery among it’s skyscrapers and concrete.
Here is an early work-up for a setting.
I’m going for a stylized cartoony kind of look with a limited palette. My medium is simply a black ink brush pen scanned in and then digitally colored. This will be my first time digitally coloring, or coloring much at all, so I’m sticking with a mostly monochromatic (which I usually admire anyway) visual scheme to start myself off. The Character (Greg) and anything in the foreground will be a bit more detailed and rendered, while things receding into the background will become more stylistically obscured and simplified. Because I like to emphasize line weight when I draw, I want to make sure I really force a point of view by creating distinct planes. This way, the entire illustration will hopefully not look too one-dimentional. Using a very limited palette may continue to flatten the image, so I have to compensate by exaggerating my line weights even more.
I’m drawing inspirations mostly from the animations I enjoyed as a kid. Namely, the heavy line emphasis from watching shows like “Dexter’s Laboratory”, “Powerpuf Girls”, and “Samurai Jack”. The way my story plays out without dialog and my choice in coloring can be attributed to “Rhapsody in Blue” -one of my all time favorite animations- from “Fantasia 2000”. My own characters style is reflected in other new artists I look up to currently.
In breaking my story into three basic scenes I went firstly for the initial start of my character’s journey, still within his environment. I used the color red to go hand-in-hand with the brick background and for the fact that this is the exciting drive of the first scene. The flowers are yellow to help pop, and to stay a constant item to tie the scenes together.
Definitely the more challenging scene to compose, this second scene fast-forwards to the city. I wanted to show more interaction in this scene as it’s functioning as the closest thing to a sort of ‘crescendo’ out of the 3 scenes. I chose blue for the city to make sure it reflected that this setting is not at all organic like the first scene. The color also made sense to use because of all the cold glass and metal that would actually be in this scene’s setting.
Finally, the last scene. I wanted to show how my character interacts with his environment more than just running, and it seemed appropriate to have him hunched over in the window to also very directly show how he was feeling. Drawing the girl large and shadowed in the foreground with a very universally understood pose also helps the scenes readability. I chose purple because it set the mood well, and because it is literally combined the other two scenes (and both character’s respective environment colors) together.
If you’re curious, here is the song that this story originally played out to in my head. hopefully you can roughly see my story in the music!