Designing Squishy Taylor

February 8, 2016
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When the wonderful “Squishy Team” ( Hardie Grant ) contacted me to talk about Squishy Taylor, I was like “What’s a Squishy Taylor?” I was a little apprehensive.

But then I read an early draft of Ailsa Wild’s Squishy Taylor and the Bonus Sisters and fell instantly in love with her.

Ailsa had created a strong and fun character. Squish lived in an inner city Melbourne apartment with her new stepfamily, solved mysteries, went on adventures with her sisters, and was way too energetic! She climbed on anything and everything. She was RAD.

The Squishy Team wanted her to be appealing to the target audience 8-12 year old readers. Having mainly worked in a younger age bracket for picture books, games and novels, I needed to design her carefully. I was asked to put a concept design of Squishy. But instead of just one, I did several! ( I was a bit excited.)

Things to consider with her design were:

-       No sharp angles. Wanted her to look rounded, and appear flexible! (For all her dangerous flips and climbing.)

-       Ailsa describes Squish as always having her hair in her eyes and mouth!

-       The stories are set in Melbourne. She’d need clothing that would be suitable for the colder weather, while also being flexible for all Squishy’s stunts. I knew pretty quickly that her initial costume would consist of a vest, hooded jumper, and possibly some converse sneakers (for sneaking of course.)

- What illustration style did I want to try create? What style would represent Ailsa’s stories in the best way? I needed a style of illustration that would match her voice.

Concept 1:

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I liked this design. Her arms and legs are really rubbery and flexible.  I liked the squiggly bits of hair that jump out, but I did feel her hair didn’t have quite enough personality for what was needed.

Concept 2:

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More emphasis on hair here, so I simplified her eyes down to black ovals. Loved the look of her mouth, and the clumpy movement of strands of hair. Her eyes didn’t work though- as Ailsa’s stories contained subtle character emotions, I needed Squishy’s eyes to be much more visible. I just couldn’t reply on black dots for this.

Concept 3:

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She was everyone’s favourite. The hair had character. Her eyes and mouth were big (possibly a tad too big). She was engaged, mischievous and energetic.

After we all agreed this was the way forward, we tweaked her initial costume by adding leggings and a skirt. The design of Squishy Taylor was born!

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This all sounds very easy and step-by-step, but between each stage there were lots of discussions, scraps and scribbles that just didn’t make the cut.

To prove it, here’s the very first scribble of Squish that I drew. Oh wow…

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And here’s a few more that just didn’t cut it.

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There’s some pretty scary scribbles there. It is amazing to think that with every character created for a story, TV or film, that there is always a lot of alternate designs made behind the scenes.

 

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