haracter Design isn’t something I was ever taught. But when you create picture books you have to create characters. I really enjoy looking at great character designs and wishing I knew how to do what they do. I feel like I’m learning how to create great characters very very slowly.
A person can learn a lot by looking at how others design characters, and I’ve also picked up a lot from reading the Character Design Blog where character designers explain their process. But I wish I could just have someone start at the beginning and really show me how they make a character I haven’t found any resources for that yet.
So in an attempt to bridge the beginning to end character design gap, and hopefully be helpful to other people that are wondering how to create a fun, engaging, great, amazing character, (that’s what I’m hoping for) I will explain a little of how I do it. I even included the yucky drawings so you can see how I get from bleh to hey-that’s-not-so-bad.
Princess Cupcake is a character I created for the recent SCBWI illustration conference here in Utah. Martha Rago, the Associate editor at Harper Collins Children’s books, led an illustration intensive for the attendees that were interested. She gave us an assignment, in this case a description of princess cupcake and her story, and we did drawings for it and turned them in to her. Then she gave us feedback and we reworked our stuff based on what she said. My explanation of the process starts after I’ve done my initial sketches and shows how I used her feedback to create a better character. Go ahead and read the image over there on the left if you haven’t yet.
One of the things I really wanted to focus on was the emotion of the characters. After I got the princess to a sort of developed state I really tried to focus on what she was doing, thinking, and feeling. And I quite enjoy the end result. I learned a lot pushing myself to draw the characters with more movement and expression. I hope in the future I can continue to challenge myself to get more engaging characters.
If any of you know of a great book or blog or anything on the character design process I’d seriously love to know. Click on the post title to leave a comment.