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Jonathan Wotton
Character Designer

Artist Portfolio

Smoking Pig
United Kingdom

Casey Roonan, Comics Artist & Cartoonist

Casey Roonan
Cartoonist & Comics Artist

Artist Statement
“I’m a freelance illustrator specializing in cartoon character and mascot design. I have a great love for bold, colorful characters and certainly anything that makes me laugh!

When I was a kid I was always doodling some sort of cartoon and this seemed like the natural path to follow as an illustrator. I have been making a living from mainly mascot design for small businesses for the last 5 years but I’m now attempting to take this a step further, which is why I wanted a critique from Art Prof.”

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Partial Video Transcript

“I’m going to be reviewing your portfolio, first as a body of work, and try to give you some general feedback; comments about what you can improve on and how to edit this portfolio to be as strong as possible, and then going into some more detailed critique of each of these individual pieces.

I think right off the bat, looking at this portfolio, I am encouraged by how clear your focus is. I think your interest in character reads immediately and consistently throughout the collection of work. But each individual character has a ton of personality, and it’s not just that you yourself have a very distinct visual style that reads throughout every image, but also that each character has their own unique personality that reads very successfully.

I think that has a lot to do with your talent with acting–I think that’s a bizarre way to put it, but I think all great cartoonists have this skill with acting through character, through conveying personality through body language, the broad gesture of a figure, facial expressions, and you have that down, pat. Your characters are extremely expressive.

In general, my one suggestion in particular is with editing this portfolio, because I do think that this portfolio is a few images too long. I would shoot for having a professional portfolio be anywhere between 7 and 12 images–I think the fewer, really, the better. I think you want to air on the side of whoever’s looking at your portfolio wanting more, rather than feeling overwhelmed by too many images that are sort of decreasing strength.

The thing you should keep in mind–the principle that you should really use to make your decisions about which of these pieces you ultimately want to include in a professional portfolio, is the same principle that I think all great character design artists should focus on first and foremost when designing a character: which is to try and have each character have the most distinct and visually interesting silhouette.

I think the silhouette of the character is everything. You know, you want to be able to cast a character entirely in shadow, just black them out entirely, and be able to read who that character is, and their relationship to the other characters in your world and be able to tell them apart immediately. So that if you removed all of the surface elements of the character, like their facial expression, maybe the details of their costuming, you should be able to still be able to tell based purely on the most fundamental design elements of who this character is.

That said, let’s get into more specifics. First image, this little girl character riding this pig–I love this as a start to this portfolio, because it reveals your own point of view, your sense of humor–I love, again, the facial expressions of the characters. One thing that I think could be improved upon in this piece is the color choice.”

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3 responses on "Character Design Portfolio Art Critique: Jonathan Wotton"

  1. You have a ton of fun characters in here and it seems like you had a great time creating them!

    Something I can’t help but notice though is that most of your characters are lacking sharp angles and sharp edges. Many of these characters look like either protagonists or fun side characters, but I’m not seeing too many villains based on your design shape language. Triangles and sharp edges read as dangerous and is used a lot in character design to make characters look menacing (Jafar from Aladdin, Darth Vader, Batman, Wolverine, Scar – from The Lion King, etc.)

    The other thing about character design is that it is inherit in the word “character” that they exist in some world. I think it would be great for you to design a world around these characters (even if it’s not that complex) just so we can understand what context to place them in. I would also suggest having sketches or thumbnails next to your final design so that your viewers can see how you got from Point A to Point B seamlessly.

    Great use of color! These characters really pop. Good work!

  2. There is a fantastic variety of characters in your portfolio, each is very unique. Your technical skills and lighting are on point too.
    Now comes the fun part! Expanding the personality and world of them. I like that you’ve started to dive into this exploration in the female warrior illustration. You’ve included multiple emotions and that’s really important to see in a character designers portfolio. I think it would be great to now see different views of the character. It is important to turn and see all the angles of a character including their back. Once you have designed the first it becomes very easy to create the rest by using guidelines at certain points like the head, shoulders, knees, etc… This step allows you to maintain proportionally consistency throughout. For every character you create you need a character sheet that includes expressions, turn around studies and some fun poses. Have fun with it!

  3. It’s great to see your distinct style shine throughout all of these pieces. You’ve really established a way of creating your characters, and they all have a ton of personality!

    I would encourage you to think about cutting down how many characters you are showing in your portfolio, and rather show us various expressions, poses, and maybe even character interactions of a few of your characters. I would love to see what the troll looks like standing up, from a profile view, maybe on its phone. Or what the zombie would look like if it was full of glee! Seeing the multiple expressions of the character in the white dress with the sword and shield gives me a much greater understanding of them as a character than what I would have gotten from just one pose. I’d love to see you demonstrate the range of personality and depth of character through their design, just like you’ve shown us the range of different characters you’re able to design.

    Great work!

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