Part One of PROJECT: ZERO focuses on is character design and a full character turn around. This would have been a lot easier if he was symmetrical, but I think his asymmetry lends some of his charm.

This is Zero, aka Michael McManus. He's a character I've been drawing and refining since some time in 2005. Full disclosure - yes, he is somewhat based on me, at least physically. I made all sorts of key changes to ensure that he wasn't exactly me... like he has sideburns and stubble instead of a beard and he's a musician instead of a graphic artist. I also made him Irish for some reason. I just like their last names and after searching through tons of them, liked McManus the best. His first name actually came from the archangel Michael. I'm not religious, but religions interest me. Doing some research at some point in my life, I read that there are two archangels: Gabriel and Michael. Gabriel is the messenger while Michael is the protector. This was perfect for when I was toying with the idea of Zero being some kind of hero. "Zero" obviously has connotations as a name, but then to have his secret identity have other connotations was really interesting to me.

His appearance, besides reflecting my own, is meant to show his rock n roller status. His shirt color has changed over the years, but he's always had those red shoes. At one point he had red shoes, a red watch, a red bandana on his other wrist, a red belt and red on his shirt collar and sleeves. Way too matchy-matchy. Then he went through a period where everything was super desaturated. Wearing gray and black with just his red shoes. Too dull. I've been having fun in my recent paintings matching the boy's shoes to either his jacket or his shirt so I tried it on Zero and liked the result. He also had a goatee for a long time, but I recently traded that in for the less aggressive stubble. His ripped jeans are a nod to the 80s/90s when that was really cool. Finally, his t-shirt has a v-neck just to make it a little more different than an average crew neck t-shirt.

So that's Zero.

PS- I made an animated GIF of his turn around, but it absolutely trashed his colors. If anyone has any advice on better GIF animators for Mac OS X (no higher than 10.4), let me know! I used GIFBuilder, by the way.
(click to see him spin forever)


  1. Hi, I love the thought and detail gone into this character. How did you do the turn around at the bottom?

    1. Thanks! I actually used a program called GIFBuilder to animate the turn around. I drew each pose and saved it as a separate GIF, then tossed them all into GIFBuilder. Turns out you can do this a bit simpler with Photoshop's Animation feature. Each pose of the turn is a different layer in Photoshop, then in the Windows menu, choose Animation, set the layers as frames and tweak the settings to get your desired result. You can see my improved turn around at the bottom of this other post


      Hope that helps!