It starts off like this:
You'll see I make some notes along with whatever I sketch (can we call these sketches?)--these notes often include characteristics, what they may wear, etc. I drew this little guy with a space-like backpack, and a sweet ray gun. Big eyes, even bigger ears. And yeah, I wrote "pew pew" coming from his ray gun. Nice, huh?
I call him Dr. Phineas the Fennec, aka, Finn.
I then create a Character Bible, which is a blueprint (along with the wicked sketch above) for my artist to build from.
Dr. Phineas the Fennec (aka Finn): Our small, science guy. Think “Dexter’s Lab” meets Brain from “Pinky & the Brain.” Or perhaps Noodle from the “Gorillaz” meets “Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.” Definitely, has the cute factor—he’s only 3 feet tall, large-large black eyes, large bat-like ears...and dressed as a mad scientist. So, he’s the genius—along with Roosevelt—who shot Mars into space. So, he’s a bit older, but doesn’t look it. Has an acerbic, dry personality. His reactions are played out by his gargantuan ears (flat and sideways if he’s pissed, straight up if he’s alert, etc.) Builds the teams gear and weapons. Is almost like a Q to Mars’s James Bond.
· A Fennec Fox: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fennec_Fox & http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:10_Month_Old_Fennec_Fox.jpg
· Dons a NES Power Glove...er, for science reasons
· Also dons a power pack with antennae like this guy; http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/casey.jpg
· Sometimes is seen with goggles around his neck
I included several links--I always do this--for the artist's reference. (If I'm creating an actual human being, and not, say, a fox, then I'll often "cast" the character as a famous celebrity.)
There was clearly a distinct look I was going for and the very talented Erik Thompson nailed it. The radness of Noodle from Gorillaz with the mischievousness and sciencey-ness of Dexter from Dexter's Lab.
And here's what I got less than a month later.