Character JAM – “Eli Torres”

This week was the Character JAM, where we were tasked with creating a character based off sketches and observations of people in the centre of Winchester.


My character was based off a disabled person I sketched, who was also smoking a cigarette.


The combination of these elements inspired Eli Torres, the grumpy old Detective Constable from Mexico who lost the use of his legs when he was shot in the back saving a child’s life. He works in a dangerous city where drug deals and cartel shootouts are common, and spends most of his time off-duty in the Cafe Del Toro, the local bar and restaurant. He is very grumpy and frustrated by his disability, as well as getting old and being past his prime. He is also very brave and righteous, and would put himself in harms way to save people’s lives.

You can see the full character information of Eli here.

When designing Eli, I started off with a very basic sketch. and then repeated that sketch a number of times. Through iterations I began to refine Eli’s look and attempted to get a recognisable and unique silhouette for him that would stand out. The collar design particularly was somethin I wanted to get right; in classic old fashioned detective/police shows the detectives always have long coats with the collars turned up, so I wanted that to be a major part of Eli’s design.

First set of iterations –


(Apologies for these pictures – it was camera based as I didn’t have access to a scanner at the time)

Collar Designs –


Second set of iterations –


Once I had that refined idea and look for Eli, I started work on the other perspectives needed for the brief. At this point I started to run out of time as I had spent most of it trying to get the silhouette as refined as possible, so the other perspectives are not quite as refined as I would have liked them to be.

Front Perspectives

I first started on a “top down” perspective, but found it very difficult to even get close to what I wanted it to look like, so with time running out I changed tactics and started work on a front-facing perspective instead. I started off with just getting the wheelchair right and then added in Eli. This technique worked well and the new perspective proved much more promising than at first and after a few iterations it looked quite good. I chose one of the iterations I created and refined it in Adobe Photoshop to create the Front Perspective (see the top of the post for an image).

Back Perspectives

The next and final perspective I worked on was the back. This one was a little easier as I already had the front silhouette to work with at this point, which helped a great deal with getting the dimensions of the Back Perspective correct. Like with the front I started off with sketching just the wheelchair, then added Eli once I got the dimensions correct and then refined through iterations until the final design was created (for the final image see the top of this post).

Overall I felt Eli looked rather good. The first perspective I created (side view) was refined well and looked like a depressed man in a wheelchair, which is who Eli is so I felt that was a success. The other two perspectives could do with more refining so that’s something I could work on.

During this week’s JAM we learned about turnabout models, and using people and sketches as inspiration for character design. It was an interesting new take on designing characters and I enjoyed the experience. Drawing characters by hand isn’t something I normally do due to lack of drawing skill, so it was interesting to be out of my comfort zone doing something different. The drawings I created aren’t the best but they get the point across in my opinion (it’s clearly a guy in a wheelchair) and I think the side view silhouette is very recognisable and unique, which is one of the objectives of this JAM.

Overall I felt I learned a great deal during this JAM, and look forward to using the knowledge and skills gained from it in future projects.