Behind-the-Scenes: Creating Quaver!

by Abby @ Quaver on September 8, 2011

in At Quaver HQ

Today we are lucky to hear from Steve Steinway who works in the Art department here at, and had a talented hand in the creation of our animated Quaver!

Today I would like to show you the process we went through to make the Quaver animated character. By the end, you’ll see how we made Quaver look as fun and colorful in his cartoon form as he is in real life.

Step 1 (Rough Sketch)

Step One

The first thing we did was start with a rough sketch. We gathered pictures of Quaver and sketched him, but it’s not just a matter of copying the picture. We have to make a caricature of him.

This is difficult because we want him to be a cartoon, but still look like Quaver. There are a lot of factors that we take into account: eye location, jaw shape, how big to make the forehead, the nose, the overall head shape, etc.

All these and more go into defining what makes Quaver  “Quaver.”


Step 2 (Tight Sketch)

Step Two

Next we had to finalize and clean up the rough sketch. We don’t have to copy the sketch line by line. Sketches are rough guides of what we want to achieve in the final image. Tight sketch or clean up sketch, is taking those guides and making them clean and crisp.

We may find that something just is not working in the rough sketch so we change it.

For instance, Quaver’s eyes went from being an oval shape in the rough sketch to a round shape in the final line work. That is because the oval shape was too small and made him appear a little older. You also may have noticed that his jaw line is a little softer than what appeared in the rough sketch. By softening his jaw line Quaver appears more approachable and friendly.

Step 3 (Color)

Step Three

This step is my personal favorite, although it is also quite difficult. Color can be a very tricky process.

The colors we chose here are from the colors Quaver wears in the DVD episodes. The hardest part about picking colors is you have to have a nice balance. By balance I am talking about colors working together in harmony with one another. For instance the orange and green on his shirt are very intense and rich colors. So to help compliment those colors, we have dark and cool colors to give your eyes a break.

Color Choice: Bright!



Lets say we chose these colors. They are all bright and very saturated. As you stare at the colors, you will slowly notice yourself wanting to look at something less intense. It may be his face, shoes, the black border or even back to this text.

Color Choice: Dark!




Now this time we chose all dark colors and the same thing is happening. If you look at the darker version you will again notice your eyes wanting to drift again. Your eyes will want to look at his face and hands. That is because everything is so dark, so your eyes want to go where the brighter colors are.

This is a trick that Illustrators will use when we want you to focus on a certain object or focal point in a painting. That is not what we want to achieve here.


Step 4 (Shadows)


Step Four

Once we had our colors situated, we added in some shadows to give Quaver a little bit more form. Shadows are a lot of fun to do and can make the image look fantastic, if done correctly.

We made the shadows on Quaver come from one distinct light source. This way it is clear where the light is coming from and makes it easier to read for the viewer.

Bad Shadows



Here is an example of bad shadows. The little suns represent all the different light sources this figure has, based on where the shadows are.

As you can see the shadows are everywhere and do not make a whole lot of sense.





Step 5 (Background Elements)


Step Five

This is the last step in our process of creating Quaver. It is more for presentation purposes than actually creating the character.

We added a shadow shape under Quaver so he will look grounded in the space. We may also add some shapes behind Quaver so he pops off of that white background.



So what do you think? I think it’s a fantastic interpretation if I do say so myself.

But you don’t have to take my word for it!

Quaver has been through many changes over the years.

Quaver Through The Years

Which Quaver is your favorite?

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 graham September 8, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Dear Steve,

Great blog, you really made that Quaver guy look good, I think your drawing is definately the best!!



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