Frankenstein Character Design

  • Illustrations, screen captures and a final 3D print that shows the process of creating a Francis N. Stein or Frankenstein character design. by Mick Coulas

Frankenstein Character Design

Movie lighting is a big influence for many of the scenes of my illustrations, horror films in particular for some of the more dramatically lit scenes I have created. I guess it started with really liking the mood that was evoked in my caricature of William Butler Yeats. The “Monkey Junk” piece was really inspired by those old Frankenstein films, I decided to model a Frankenstein Character Design.

I wondered, what would a modern Frankenstein have to do to survive a modern world? He would have to go to work, and trudge through the day like the rest of us. Here are some of the sketches I did to start the process off. I quickly landed on my guy, Francis Norman Stein. My monster is not a monster at all, but a rather refined guy at heart, although lacking in the social graces “due to a rough birth.”

He finds himself stuck in a job that is a bit of a grind.

Fully Rendered Francis N. Stein (Frankenstein) Working Stiff illustration with brief case, neck tie, and coffee mug that reads

The work-a-day world is fraught with frustration and boredom for working stiff Francis N. Stein.

But . . . it’s a Living.

When I showed this character to a little girl at the Fab Lab open house, she asked what his story was. After I gave her some background on him, she said “So he’s nice, but not so lucky”, which is absolutely right.

Fully Rendered Francis N. Stein (Frankenstein character design) Working Stiff illustration created in 3D by Mick Coulas.
The face sketches used in Francis N. Stein (Frankenstein) cartoon Character design for packaging by Mick Coulas.

I set up the orthographic sketch, and set off to model him. I’m really self taught in the whole process, but YouTube and Lynda.com have really made it possible to learn a 3D modelling program on your own. I did have some night school courses years ago, but those, while really good, only began the journey.

The front and profile sketches used in Francis N. Stein (Frankenstein) cartoon Character design for packaging by Mick Coulas.
Early Step in Modeling of Francis N. Stein

The modeling stage is the most exciting stage where I can introduce variables to the Frankenstein character design that enhance the portrayal of the personality. When I am designing characters, it is a discovery process, as new characteristics reveal themselves as I work with the medium.

Texturing is like icing the cake. It is a complex procedure of unwrapping the figure so textures can be mapped properly on to it, which gives way to the pure pleasure of seeing the figure realized.

At some point I really let go of my ambition of a quick acclimation to the 3D world and started thinking of it as a game. I let go of needing to produce immediate results and let my progress grow organically. I love the medium. There’s something really yummy about the 3D surfaces and images. I kind of feel like I could eat them. The colors are so rich, the textures so detailed. As an artist I find them very enticing.

Now I felt I needed a place for him to get his morning volts, before facing the long day ahead. Creating a set design in 3D modeling is just as interesting but different from the character design.

Francis N. Stein (Frankenstein Character Design) is modeled in wire frame before any texture is applied.
Early Step in Modeling of Francis N. Stein

As Mick creates the environment for Francis’s lab at home, he pushes and pulls wire frames in the 3D space until he has created the shapes that he wants for the scene.

Most monsters have a lair, but Frankenstein has a Lab. Show here is the wire-frame step in modeling of Francis N. Stein’s (Frankenstein) Laboratory illustration showing patient’s chair, control panel on wall, and tesla coils.
Textures that are mapped on the 3D model of Francis N. Stein

Textures that are mapped on the 3D model of Francis N. Stein’s (Frankenstein) laboratory home illustration reveals a reclining chair made of leather and metal, where Francis gets his morning volts, dials on the wall, electro magnetic tesla coils that hold an electric charge all on a tile floor. Character design by Mick Coulas.

 Shown here is the texturing step in modeling of Francis N. Stein’s (Frankenstein) Laboratory illustration. Textures can be materials such as metal, glass, wood, or a texture can be mapped on to the 3D object.
Fully rendered Illustration Francis N. Stein (Frankenstein) laboratory shows the tesla coils lit up and electricity charging through the system to the reclining chair that is mapped with an old leather and old metal texture. 3D model, Character design for packaging by Mick Coulas.

Any Creature Character Design requires a lair, a cave . . .or a lab. Before Francis N. Stein is off to the work-a-day world, he gets his morning volts in his chair to carry him through the day. Fully rendered Illustration Francis N. Stein (Frankenstein) laboratory shows the tesla coils lit up and electricity charging through the system to the reclining chair that is mapped with an old leather and old metal texture.

Show here is the final textured and lit rendering of the model of Francis N. Stein’s (Frankenstein) Laboratory illustration.
The work-a-day world is wrought with frustration and bordom for Francis N. Stein. But ... it

Along the way I was also reading about 3d printers, and a new Fab lab was starting up here in Sarasota. I got really excited. I was hoping to print this guy out, and cast him. I think the 3d printing technology is a perfect vehicle to get this art from the screen into reality, and it was great fun to see him output in 3 dimensional form.

Next step is to see if I can really reproduce these Frankenstein Character Design models on a kind of limited run sculpture. I’d love to come full circle and use some of my long unused skills as an airbrush artist to bring these small sculptures to life.

Email Mick for a quotation on your next Character Design Project.

Related 3D character design projects are Lemmie Mon, Monsta Riff, Marshmellow Chocolate for JELL-O.