I´ve never been a big DC comics fan, I think Batman the Animated Series is one of my all time favorite cartoons but other than Christopher Nolan´s Batman trilogy, the Killing Joke comic book, and the Super Friends cartoon I was never attracted so much to the characters and their stories. That interest has changed gradually I think DC Comics is going to have a bright future with many projects they are producing, one of them, the Harley Quinn cartoon.
Before the pandemic started, it was very common that in the University we hosted at least one professional artist from the animation industry. In 2019We received the visit of Juan José Meza León, a mexican storyboard artist and director, known until then by his work on the Rick and Morty cartoon.
When he visited us, there was a great connection between him, my students and the department in general. There were all types of professional activities with him, and there was time for us as department to hang out with him having lunch and dinner. One of those gatherings with me, was special because he showed me while we ate lunch the animatic of the Harley Quinn first episode that he directed. I was blown away immediately.
The first episode “Til Death Do Us Part” aired at the end of November of 2019, it was directed by our friend Juan José Meza León. The TV series has already 2 seasons and the season 3 should be out some time soon in 2022. At least 7 episodes have been directed by our good friend.
In that same month the show premiered I visited the CTN Animation Expo in Burbank California. By then with Juan I continued messaging from time to time, I knew he lived near Burbank (kind of near) and I told him that I was going to be at the animation event but my schedule was going to be a little bit tight, so it was pure luck when one of those nights I was there I went to the nearest Walmart from my hotel (walking distance) and we saw each other at the toy aisle, it wasn’t planned it was fate.
THE CREATIVE PROCESS
By the end of 2020, I was still hooked to the show (2nd season ), and I decided to make some fan art just for fun, the design included the character design of the 7 principal characters of the show (Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Frank the Plant, King Shark, Dr. Psycho, Sy Borgman and Clayface). I re-imagined the characters as if they were designed by one of my favorite animation studios, UPA or United Productions of America.
Lately my process starts with sketching with the help of procreate, from the first sketches I will erase and clean some sections until I´m happy with the results. In this case there were 7 characters, I think the most difficult was Harley and Frank the Plant. And the easiest and most fun was Dr. Psycho.
All the tracing of the sketches was done using Procreate as well, this tool is the most helpful and useful for illustrating on the iPad. For the final touches I exported the Procreate files as PSD, from there I continued on my Mac using not Photoshop but After Effects instead, because I wanted the 4 gradient tool the Software has. At the end I did a different color version for each of the characters.
As you probably have noticed I have designed a special animated GIF showcasing each of the projects on the principal grid. For this one animated GIF, I wanted something simple, I started thinking in building a robot arm rig using After Effects to simulate the arm of Sy Borgman and playing with a simple animation like Saul Bass “The Man with the Golden Arm” but later I changed my mind because it was better to reflect something more iconic for the principal character of the show. The mallet was chosen and I did something really easy using primitives on Cinema 4D, animating the whole piece crossing the screen and that was it (Easing the movement).
I later composed the whole scene using After Effects, Red Giant´s Universe and Red Giant´s Looks.
At first this illustration was submitted to my old friend RIPT apparel, it was not chosen so what I did was to set up a Red bubble shop and upload the design there, so if you are interested in having this design you can do it by purchasing it directly in that website.