Calico is not exactly an "original" character. She is an adopted one. She was originally created by a very talented artist named Sarah Wheeler for a t-shirt speaking out against fur coats. However, back then Calico was just an un-named generic character used only that one time for the t-shirt. After that she spent the rest of her life sitting in a Yerf gallery and as an example of a "furry" in an anthropomorphic artwork essay. That is until I discovered her. Unfortunately, I can't say that prior knowledge of Sarah Wheeler's work brought me to her website. I actually found it through a backwards way by looking up "furry" in Google.com's Image Search. Ms. Wheeler's t-shirt design was amoung the results, and I was blown away by the awesome characters I saw. For that reason I went and checked out the website they came from which turned out to be Ms. Wheeler's wonderful site Manawolf's Lair.
When I saw Calico for the first time on that website all I could say to myself was, "Damn! Why didn't I think up a character like that?" I loved Calico's pose, her demeanor, and those very striking black bands on her arms, legs, and chest. It was love at first sight! I have designed few furry characters myself, so this was a light year ahead of what I was doing. So I had a major desision to make: do I go out and design my own furry character incorperating some of Ms. Wheeler's ideas, or do I beg her to let me draw this character hoping she will give me freedom to develop it? I picked the latter, and to my extreme delight she told me that Calico was a character with no name or backstory, and that I was free to do whatever I wanted with the character as long as I gave her credit for the design.
The first thing I did for my new "adopted" character was give her a name. It took me a few days to come up with a satisfactory name that I felt fit the character. When I finally decided I chose "Calico," because she is spotted like calico fabric or a calico scallop. I know there is a black and orange "calico" type of house cat, but calico just means "spotted fabric," it doesn't just pertain to black and orange blotches. Besides, she is a cat girl isn't she?
I haven't thought up of a backstory or a definate personality for Calico yet, but I am currently playing with some ideas. It's not like with my own characters where I have determined their personality before I designed the actual character on paper. Instead it's more like I am "reverse engineering" this character- I have the end result, but now I have to determine what caused it. I'm sure something brilliant will hit me in due time. Because I did not design this character myself it is important that I design the best personality and backstory I am capable of, for if I reem this poor character I will not only be disappointing myself but the character's creator as well. Now you know why I put Calico in my Original Characters section: I may not have designed her, but her personality, backstory, name, and future adventers will all be of my design.
This is my first drawing of Calico, and as such I decided to try making it into a great experiment. Please don't critique me too hard on this drawing. This was the very first time I inked on Bristol Board, this was the very first time I have ever used Prismacolor art markers (I have only colored with colored pencils in the past), and this was only the fourth time I have ever used my light box to ink a pencil drawing. Because of all of this combined with the fact that this was the first time I have ever drawn this character I think this drawing turned out miraculously well. I mean, I had never drawn in Ms. Wheeler's style before and I did it using all new methods and equipment! I was holding my breath the whole time I was drawing this worrying that I would botch it.
I made this drawing in several steps which played out over five and a half hours. First I ripped out about a dozen sheets out of my Dilbert desk calender. I used those as scratch paper and for about an hour filled them up with dozens of pose ideas. I didn't want to copy Ms. Wheeler's pose. Even though a freehand copy is how I usually start out drawing someone else's character, I didn't want to show Ms. Wheeler a complete lack of creativity on my part. Finally I found a pose that I liked, so I whipped out my Strathmore 80lbs. medium surface drawing paper and went wild with 5H and HB mechanical pencils. Apparently I went too wild, for my first couple attempts became garbage can liners. When I finally had a semi-rough sketch I was happy with I threw it up onto the light box and put a piece of 100lbs. Bristol Board on top of it. You know I got some light box if it can shine through 80lbs. drawing paper and 100lbs. Bristol Board at the same time!
I traced my drawing onto the Bristol Board with size 05 and 03 Pigma Mircron pens. Then I took out the seven Sanford Prismacolor art markers I had bought for this project and colored her right on the Bristol Board. I did this because I had learned earlier that art markers were tenacious little things being able to soak through several sheets of newspaper. I still under-estimated the power of those markers- they were still able to soak through the 100lbs. piece of Bristol Board! Zoiks, that's excessive ink use! So I colored the drawing with my fingers crossed knowing that if I messed up I would have to get out a new piece of Bristol Board and retrace my drawing from scratch. Luckily everything went fairly well, and I only had to do a couple minor touch ups in Paint Shop Pro 7.02 when I was done.
This little project was expensive. Ms. Wheeler's original drawing of Calico was digitally colored, which wouldn't have cost me a dime if I chose to color my drawing that way myself. But I had heard such great things about these Prismacolor art markers that I decided this was the excuse I needed to try them. Yeah, well, with only 7 markers costing me $24 I won't be buying anymore markers anytime soon. Crayola colored pencils are so much more affordable! Oh, and before you start complaining how the cheetah is orange instead of yellow let me tell you this- the "Yellowed Orange" Prismacolor marker looked lighter when I tried it out in the store, O.K? I hope you all like this drawing and I promise I will get better at drawing Calico as time goes on. Thanks again for letting me adopt Calico, Sarah Wheeler!
All text and original multimedia is © 2002 Daniel Keller. All other information is copyrighted by their respective owners.