Calliope the Enchanted: Artwork Composition

Written by Peach

Calliope the Enchanted was the first character designed with plans for multiple toys with different uses. Each toy was meant to be a beginner-friendly option in comparison to the rest of our catalog. Prior to Calliope, Creature Feature Toys had yet to venture into C Rings and Plugs. At the time, we noticed a need in our catalog for a more approachable toy with specs smaller than most of our other toy lines. While CFT models typically are “monster sized”, we strive to provide something for everyone. Since our resizing process can be complicated and has a longer timeline than shops who 3D print, the quickest way for us to provide sizes for all bodies is to have a wide range of toy options!

The character of Calliope, a magical sea goat carousel mount, was designed by me, Peach. As with most of my concepts, I started with a variety of different ideas and influences for the character’s design. My typical conceptualization phase starts with one idea that snowballs into something more unique and well-rounded over time. My general rule is to never go with my first idea! In Calliope’s case, the thought process went a little something like this:

Ideas can evolve from simple phrases and descriptions!

Looking at my train of thought, you may be able to see where I connected some themes to other ideas. Next challenge was finding a way to present my concept to the rest of the CFT team. As this was the first character I spearheaded the design and concept for, I wanted to make sure the full picture made sense! The first thing I did was doodle the concept myself. I intentionally kept the details minimal/flexible, as the final design would go through revisions.

These were mostly sketched by me, but Fuzz contributed the bottom left and center sketches for other possibilities.

The character art presented another challenge, mainly that Calliope’s anatomy was difficult compose. We were stuck on how to show this carousel mount posing with their pole in a dynamic fashion…with a tail! Many sketches were created in an attempt to strike a nice balance with the character’s design and overall composition. For example, it took us all of these drafts (and then some) for us to decide to separate Calliope’s form from the pole!

The main thing I wanted to convey was the theme-park feel of the color palette, the general anatomy of Calliope’s character, and how decorative their design would be. Additionally, I created a picture-board for Fuzz to reference.

Mood boards can help convey some elements better than sketches!

At this point, the character was approved by the team and Fuzz set to work on creating the toys based off the model. They took inspiration from the pole that Calliope rests on and wanted to add additional decorative details that mimicked the carousel design flairs on the base. The swirling texture on the shaft and a piercing on the head reflect some of the character’s theming and was added for texture. Calliope’s plug also pull details from the fun shapes and decor of a carousel, while the ring is a specific call-back to the Brass Ring riders could catch to win a free ride!

Calliope’s model and c-ring details wear a lot of different colors well!

With the concept for the character and toy complete, we still needed a few final elements to finalize this model. It was time to get to work on Calliope’s story and flavor text. The mood board I created was essential to establishing the setting and themes that I wanted to convey. Sometimes we write these stories while working on the final illustration, or after. We always try to tie some element of the environment into the stories, and in this case my writing had really inspired Fuzz for the next step.

At last, the character artwork was the final hurdle! Ultimately, Fuzz’s genius pieced the art work together, utilizing the background details to imply direction and motion. While Calliope is viewed straight-on, it’s clear the character is moving on the pole as shown by the tilt of the carousel and movement of the wispy fog. The facial expression, posing, and subtle apparel details does a lot of invisible work with conveying the character’s personality. The faintly sinister atmosphere is impeccably created with the subtle fog and details of the other shadowy carousel mounts. It was like they pulled the image right from my brain. I could not have been happier with Fuzz’s execution of Calliope’s character art!

This animation shows how Fuzz developed a colored sketch, balancing focus on the background, character, and lighting.
The final illustration of Calliope the Enchanted.

What a Twist!

Although a sea goat and a haunted carousel might be an unusual combination, we had a lot of fun with Calliope the Enchanted and we hope you enjoyed a peek at some of the process of how this creature came to be!

Be sure to check out this decorative toy, and read our other blogs in the Creating Creatures series!

Decorative image of Calliope the Enchanted. A sea goat smiling with arms stretched out like a rearing horse.