It’s been a while, but I’m finally picking-up the pencil once again to bring you the fifth installment of my Teen Titans character makeover series. Next-up on the drawing board is the Titans’ affable half-man, half-machine: Cyborg!
NOTE: Please keep in mind that this is just my process, it’s not the only process! Also, depending upon the project, the order in which I proceed may differ.
Back in June, the first member of the Teen Titans to get her makeover was Raven; in July, Beast Boy got his turn; in August, Starfire was given her new costume, and come September, Robin was given his new look. Since I started with Raven and gave her a stylized, sort of Gothic Victorian look, I have been trying to stay within a [really fairly loose] set of parameters in order to maintain some semblance of cohesiveness for the rest of the team’s costumes. Since ‘Victorian’ is a rather extensive term, and the era itself, more or less, encompassed the time of Queen Victoria’s reign (1837-1901), I’ve given myself enough latitude to, figuratively, paint with very broad strokes.
The conversation regarding all of this character redesign revolved around the possibility of a Steampunk makeover for the Teen Titan team (please see the Raven article for my opinions and reasoning behind that), and with his body’s extensive cybernetic overhaul after having been substantially injured in an accident, Cyborg is a prime candidate for a Steampunk makeover. Onto my questions!
Who is this character?
Like Beast Boy, Cyborg came into his superpowers by mean of enhancements and changes made to his original, human body. While Beast Boy contracted a disease and his genetic make-up was altered by medicine, Cyborg’s body was critically damaged in a tragic accident, and repairs were made by means of mechanical augmentations. He was an up-and-coming athlete at the time of his accident, an element that should not be overlooked, either.
As for his general attitude and personality, Cyborg’s a laid-back, friendly guy who’s not overly serious (Beast Boy is his best friend, which says a lot about his demeanor), and he likes to have fun, although he also still takes his responsibilities as a Titan seriously. Cyborg takes great pride in his inventions (he does like to tinker with gadgets), another worthwhile point to keep in mind.
How does the costume serve and/or represent the character? What is the character going to be doing in this costume?
The most notable of Cyborg’s physical characteristics are his robotic enhancements, so these are obviously going to figure prominently in his re-design. He’s also athletic, so I don’t want to weigh him down with long garments or overly cumbersome robotic parts– I’m going to try to keep him as streamlined as possible. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t like adding stuff for the sake of adding stuff; choices should have reasons behind them, instead of relying on arbitrary decisions.
RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH!
If you’re interested, my research board for Cyborg can be found here on Pinterest, where the other Titans’ boards for this project are also located.
There is a lot of really inspiring Steampunk inspiration out there, so I started with the obvious. I was specifically looking for cybernetic-type enhancements, but I also didn’t want to be a slave to (or simply copy) what has already been done. Since my experience with drawing such a character is actually very limited, I looked at a wide ranged of ideas, from the strange little dolls and creations from the animated movie 9 (which you should absolutely check-out if you like post-apocalyptic fare), to Robot Maria from Metropolis (I adore this movie, too), and even The Rocketeer. No, these movies don’t fall into the scope of Queen Victoria’s reign BUT I can at least glean some streamlined mechanical and/or robot-goodness to get my creative juices flowing.
What I also found is that there are some really unique-looking diving suits from the mid-1800s , and thought that I could make play around with especially how the arms and legs were connected to the main body of the suit. Even though, ultimately, I didn’t use much of this idea, they’re still really cool to look at, and it would be interesting to see a Steampunk costume inspired by these contraptions.
I’d prefer my version Cyborg to be rather dapper, so I’m going to incorporate some fashionable elements, not unlike Robin’s makeover. In order to keep my late-1800’s-variant of this Titan less cumbersome, I also looked at circuits and circuit boards, thinking that the cool designs they make could be integrated somehow into his costume.
SKETCH YOUR HEART OUT!
As I stated in Robin’s makeover: Unfortunately, starting back in the early part of the nineteenth century, menswear started its decline into less decorative and interesting styles; silhouettes changed very little, and the basic trouser-vest-coat combination became the staple in men’s apparel.
So, I’m going to do something similar with Cyborg’s basic outfit, starting with shirtsleeves, a vest and trousers and adding from there, playing around with accessories like hats, books, watch chains, etc.
FINALIZING THE DESIGN!
Here is the line drawing for Cyborg’s new Steampunk-inspired outfit:
JUST REMEMBER: COLORING IS FUN, NOT A COMMITMENT!
Not sure what you’re going to put where? Do you already have fabrics selected for your design, or are you still playing around with them? Just because my overall drawing is done doesn’t mean that I have to commit to coloring it a certain way. I like to make several copies to play around with color, and sometimes I need to practice a technique to render a fabric properly. Play around! Have fun! Or, if you know exactly what you want to do, skip this step.
ENJOY THE FRUITS OF YOUR LABOR!
Here we have Cyborg in his new ensemble:
I have to admit that Cyborg has been the most challenging Titan overall, since his original costume is so armor-like and chrome-heavy; as I’d mentioned earlier, cybernetics is way out of my drawing experience and comfort zone.
Nowadays, you can purchase LED lights to put into your clothing, and I think a costume such as this could benefit from such a treatment – in that the lights could infer his robotic side, – without actually constructing a hard-plastic shell or putting all sorts of bits and pieces that would snag when he’s trying to fight the good fight.
Deliberate fabric and material choices would also help the ‘robotic’ feel of this costume in the end– fabrics with silver threads woven into the fabrics, fabrics that imitate chain maille or even metal-look fabrics that are still flexible (foil pleather, for instance), but give the impression of something more resilient.
And the Titans continue to assemble:
Do you have characters you’ve personalized through a unique redesign? Any sketches, drawings or actual costumes? Feel free to share your pictures or drawings down in the comments section!