REAL Character Development


real characters


Devon Blog illust 1


Normally, when I develop characters for a commercial, they tend to be humorous illustration, like these llamas, for example.


blog  devon 1


This assignment, for Devon Lyon, Producer/Director at Lyon Films (, in Portland, Oregon, was different. Real different. Real as in realism.

He was looking for believable characters — characters that looked like real guys — to use in a commercial for Dell’s Alienware X51 Mini Gaming Desktop.

Devon wanted me to reference some local Portland actors, and put them in very specific poses. Three were dressed as SpecOp-types armed to the teeth. The fourth character was your average Joe gamer.

These presentation drawings were pre-production images for 30-second, and 60-second commercial spots.  A link to the final commercials is at the end of the blog.

I received photos of the actors, some photo reference (clothes, firearms, equipment), and these brief character descriptions:


Most unique of the unit. Wears a big bushy beard (and no one is going to make him shave it off). Wears a baseball cap with his communications unit on the top of it. Wears a patterned “Shemag Scarf” around his neck, kneepads, likes to keep his weapon tightly strapped to his chest when not in use or over the top of his tactical vest.  5’10”, 185 lbs, sweat stained.


deven beard blog



Strong, silent type. Most proper and “by the book”. All business. Does not do much customizing of his uniform. Wears a helmet with communication headset, but no goggles or glasses. 6″, 180 lbs.


the leader



A machine. All muscle. No helmet, sometimes wears shades, no baseball cap, shaved head. He wears the headpiece and microphone, tight fitting tactical shirts, kneepads, chest gear but no backpack.  6’2″, 220 lbs, thick and muscled, fingerless gloves, sleeves rolled up.





28-35 years old, normal dude, not a slob, holds down a job, wearing a bathrobe (like in the Big Lebowski), jeans, sneakers, wearing a small backpack. Looks like he is at home still playing the game.  Having him holding an old time western six-shooter, but resting at his feet is a mini-gun.


joe average


Here are the first tight drawings.


drawings blog 1


Devon wrote: Very nice work! I think they are pretty much ready to go – other than a few minor notes below.

1. Can you remove the goatee on MUSCLES?

2. Can you add a strap holding the gun to BEARD’S chest?  It might be there, but it is a little unclear.

3. When you group them together and scale them, can you place the mini gun so it is maybe a little behind HERO, like just slightly behind the HERO’s left leg? Most of it can be sticking out, but just a little behind him.

4. Love the idea of a drop shadow. Also, can you add three or four little broken rocks at their feet in the final composition? Just to hint that they are in a broken-down war environment?

Since I work in Photoshop, these changes were not a problem.


devon line 2More small changes from Devon: Ditch the handgun and replace it with a crowbar. Get rid of the gamer’s backpack, and bathrobe too.




Add a bit of gray and the presentation art is complete.


final gray



This sketch was part of the producer’s pitch to Dell.

I think the commercials are awesome! Check them out. You can now see how the guy with the crowbar relates to the SpecOp dudes. Lots of action in 60 seconds.

I gotta have one of those Alienware X51 Mini Gaming Desktops!

 Dell 30-Second Spot:

 Dell 60-Second Spot:



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