Today I begin uploading my "Avatar Ten Years Later" character designs. I'll upload them here 6 hours before I upload them on DA. As I mentioned on DA, I attempted to follow a few rules of logic and flex my character design muscles without starting from scratch. Here are the basic rules I followed:
1. Must gain at least 1 to 2 heads in proportion.
2. Must be obviously older, in otherwords, they have to look like they've been hit by puberty like a ton of bricks.
3. Each character aesthetic must be described on one sentence. For example, Sokka's aesthetic description is "A buffet of manliness."
Each image will be accompanied with a description of how that basic character was designed. My thought processes.
Anyway, without further adieu.
Height: Between just Over 5’ and just under 6’ (depending on whether or not you count her hair as a part of her height)
About the design:
Instead of talking about what I did, first let me say what I tried not to do. In all of Avatar, Toph is the most drawn as an adult despite the fact that all of the main cast are children. Why? Because Toph is such an intriguing character and the youngest of the main cast, one can’t help but ask oneself, “I wonder what she’ll be like as an adult?” In most of the fan art I’ve seen a few things happen that I don’t agree with and tried not to do.
Some tend to make her tall, skinny, and girly. That has never sat right with me. None of those adjectives will ever really describe Toph in the series. Toph, despite being a girl, is a stocky and mannish character, that’s half of what makes her intriguing.
However, there is the other side of the coin, and I feel that this interpretation is just as wrong. The interpretation that makes her really really muscled and too mannish, a testosterone dripping body builder girl. I don’t like that either, because despite being stocky and mannish Toph is still a girl. (Remember Tales of Ba Sing Se.)
That contradiction is half of the intrigue of the character. So I approached the character with contradiction in mind.
Toph’s posture and expression are meant to communicate the contradiction in her character. We can tell that she is happy, proud and confident from her stance, hands on her hips, and the wide smile on her face. However, at the same time she is standing on her tiptoes. It’s almost as if she’s still not comfortable being the short member of the group, and is attempting to compensate.
Remember Toph was the most confident and self assured of the group, but was still insecure about her appearance, sad about how she had treated her parents, and was insecure about how others saw her. She went out of her way to prove she could carry her own weight, was visibly hurt when other girls made fun of her appearance, and well, the parent thing should be obvious.
With her basic structure, I approached the character with one basic idea. “Thick.” When I say “Thick” I don’t mean muscled, but I don’t mean fat either. Sort of a compromise between the two. That compromise informed the creation of this design
But in trying to make this compromise I ran in to a little snag. She looked exactly like her old self. Apparently that was the philosophy of her young design as well. I mean, just look at how stocky she is. A good example is when she first wakes up in Tales of Ba Sing Se. Compare her to Aang, someone who is roughly the same age as her. There is a comparable difference between the two in terms of height and general width. I think it is just her nature to be very... compact... like a rock.
As I said before, my strategy with all of these characters was to make it look like they’d been hit by puberty like a ton of bricks. Just making her “thick” didn’t really communicate that. So I made her shapelier, and initially attempted restraint. However, she wound up looking a little too much like Jin. Which in all truth is probably very accurate, but I didn’t want it to look like a color swap on one character. These needed to be unique silhouettes.
Going back and forth, I was finally like “fuck it!” I wound up making her even shapelier than Jin and making her even more well endowed than Jin. I feared the repercussions from the fans but also worried about it ruining the character. Then a friend of mine pointed out, that there is a cliché in Anime where the manliest or the most confident female character usually is the best endowed. He pointed to Kuukaku from Bleach, Kei from Dirty Pair Flash, and Motoko from Ghost in the Shell. I decided to play to this cliché and have fun with it.
I hope that fun comes through and that you enjoy it. Thank you for taking the time to read my blathering. :D