I initially had the idea of portraying the Ox as a cool, calm character who is happy to compromise. In the bottom image, I experimented with the easy going facial expressions and the sense of understanding that the character would convey.
In the next two drawings, I drew the character with a more vacant expression. This may seem static and lifeless but that is almost the whole point of the drawing.
In this next drawing, I tried to consider how this character should look when submerged in water. This is fairly fundamental as the character will be in the water for a whole scene. I would need to make sure that the character's head was high enough in relation to his back so that it would still be above the level of the water. It was also suggested to me by team members that his nose and mouth should be further out of the water.
A lot of the earlier Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies used to have quite cute and appealing animals that would be exploited or manipulated in various ways, like in the cartoon below.
After studying this animation, I decided to apply this style of character design to the Ox. I made his eyes and snout more like that of a rubber dose cartoon character from that era and I think it works well; he has a very vacant and not particularly bright facial expression, but his face is a lot more versatile. He can have a blank expression, but he can also look shocked or disappointed if need be.
Another touch that I have added to this character design is that his horns now simply droop down either side and only curl at the very end. Rather than being a sharp, powerful character with quite sharp, assertive horns; he is a dopey pushover and I thought drooping horns would reflect this. I have retained the quite exaggerated, hunched back that I was working on in earlier designs.
I think I have settled on this concept, so I have done another variation of this character design with the Ox standing at another angle.
I also started doodling facial expressions for this Ox design and I think that this is going to be a really good design for expressing a wide range of facial expressions. He will mostly have quite blank and almost dumb expressions, but I'm not afraid to really push them out and I have some very exaggerated smiling expressions and sad expressions.