Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Father's Day Special

Huh, I was so sure I had set this up to be posted automatically on Sunday. C'est la vie.

Image: Frank, the mouse, hugs an adult mouse resembling him; both stand on their hind legs showing Frank is three-quarters of the other mouse's height.

This was the Father's Day counterpart to last year's Mother's Day Special. I made sure to make both a Mother's Day special and a Father's Day special, least I be accused of sexism, and avoid having people talk badly about my father.

Problem is, I couldn't simply copy the Mother's Day picture and change the clothes. Firstly, adult males tend to be larger than the adult females of their species. (Jane is taller than me because she's of a different species.) Papa here is a full inch taller than me, and only a head taller than Mama.

Secondly, men don't smile the same way women do. It just isn't… manly. Of course, the last thing I wanted to cause when I introduced a character like this was gender confusion, so I had the problem of how to show happiness, without having the character "smile with his eyes".

It took me all day to solve this one, but finally it was thanks to Sis that I found it: She was watching Spider-Man on TV. I walked in on the scene where Norman hugs Harry affectionately, and I had my answer: when a girl smiles while delivering a hug, its something cute, almost childish. So they're allowed to squee and be emotional with it. When a guy smiles while delivering a hug, its something deep. Something that shows the guy truly cares about the other person. The eyes therefore needed to reflect that, and the simplest way to do it was to show them closed, as if the character was asleep. It is the responsibility of all the other muscles to show that something is going through the character's mind while he does this, so of course, this one took longer to do.

There is a reason why I dressed him up as a red coat, but that's another story for another day.


  1. I have to take issue with the statement (assertion?) that "adult males tend to be larger than the adult females of their species." I assume you meant the American field mouse and Eurasian house mouse, but even they are not very sexually dimorphic in size.

  2. Part of the thing with drawing animal characters is that you have to balance the scientific facts with human perception.

    For instance, mice have 5 fingers on their "hands" with which they are fully capable of picking things up, but the "thumb" looks like just another finger. When I tried to give my characters hands like that, it was creepy. I had hit the uncanny valley. Consequently, all my hands are now based on the human model, with the thumb ⅔ lower than the other four fingers. In the human mind, that's what makes a hand be a hand.

    Applied to your statement, people expect males to be slightly bigger than females, even if it doesn't make sense. If I do not fulfil that expectation, people may not identify the males as males (or the hands as hands).

  3. ⅔ is supposed to be ⅔ (two-thirds, vulgar fraction). Don't know why it didn't render correctly.

  4. I guess I thought Frank was older and more full-grown than this. He's still a young mouse!

  5. @Frank: Thanks for the explanation. Sorry to nitpick, but I am a birder.