I wanted Ty to play the "mentor" role in the storyline. He had to look and behave like a father. Someone who is strict and exudes an aura of dominance but tells the occasional "dad-joke". Given that both TJ and Kerri have skinny bodies, I wanted to make Ty really large and round.
Unlike TJ and Kerri, I referenced Ty and Vulcano off real-life WWE wrestlers. For Ty, I took inspiration from Rikishi, Umaga, JBL and Mick Foley. In the end, I went with the Mick Foley inspired design as there was a certain goofiness in that character that I dig.
"With a career spanning over 30 years, Ty is the legendary 15-time JWA heavyweight champion. His massive frame terrifies even the most seasoned wrestlers; his techniques are world class. He has numerous challengers to his titles, but none as cunning as the evil Vulcano. Right before the JWA World Championships XXII, Ty was framed of the possession of illegal drugs. Disgraced, the champion was stripped off his title and forever banned from entering the ring. Hungry for revenge, he starts to train his only child, Kerri."
Although the characters were not assigned a specific gender when the assignment was issued, I immediately knew that Kerri was my female main character. There's something about the Pterodactyl (who the character was named after) that feels very feminine to me. The triangular shape they make when they extend their wings and their 'lightness' that allows them to glide in the air are some of the characteristics I wanted to portray on the character.
I assigned the 'Diving Headbutt' to be her signature move in the ring. This helped me nail down the costume design. To spice things up, I also made her become someone with very low esteem. It's fun to think about the character's back story before you start designing a character and it definitely adds flavour to the final product.
"Kerri Dactyl is the only child of legendary 15-time heavyweight champion Ty. With the burden of carrying on her father's legacy, Kerri has severe self esteem issues. While she has a fear of heights, she was forced to learn the "Diving Headbutt", her father's signature move during his early career. Recognizing the fact that she stood no chance against Vulcano, she ran away from home. It was at this time where she met TJ Rex and convinced him to join professional wrestling and take her place in the ring."
On the fifth and final day of the Bali Illustration Workshop 2014, we were tasked to design 4 characters based on the I.P "TJ Rex and the Prehistorians". We were only provided with the names of the 4 characters and the title. The property could exist as a film, video game, book... basically anything. We were given the assignment a day prior to the execution and had the night to brainstorm over what we wanted to do with it.
The idea I came up with was that the Prehistorians are a wrestling stable of characters consisting of the main character, TJ, his mentor Ty and his mentor's daughter Kerri. Together, they aim to defeat the evil world champion Vulcano and regain the title that was stolen from Ty. I've also decided to portray them as characters in an animated film.
The next day during class, I started to do quick thumbnails of the wrestlers. TJ was actually the last character I concepted. I initially wanted him to fit the mould of a classic hero character - straight-laced and always trying his best. To fit the whole 'Dinosaur' theme that was assigned to their name, I gave him really short arms (by making him an amputee with robotic limbs) and had pointy motifs on his body. I was inspired by the face paint on David Bowie during his Ziggy Stardust period and adopted a similar design on TJ.
Fast forward 3 months later, I decided to color all the characters I made for this assignment. I revisited TJ's designs and found alot to hate about it. I didn't like the straight-laced nature of the character at all and wanted to spice things up. I threw away the costume and the hair, and gave him a more modern makeover. As he was the new kid on the block, I wanted him to look different from both Ty and Kerri, even though they belonged in the same stable. I also added a piece of cloth behind his back to mimic the tail of a T Rex.
"TJ lost both his arms in an accident in the coal processing factory while working there as illegal child labour. He got his upper limbs artificially replaced in the factory, but soon outgrew the size of it during puberty. A fan of wrestling since young, he was tricked into joining the federation by Kerri who promised him that he will meet his idol Vulcano, the current world champion. Little did he know that Kerri father, Ty was training him to defeat Vulcano..."