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Character Illustration Tips

Character development seems so easy when we think about legends like Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse or even modern cartoon characters like SpongeBob but is it as simple as it looks like? That seeming simplicity of designing a character is actually a tricky task. The following tips will not make that task easy but they may help you through the process of character development.

The toughest part of developing a character is the very beginning. Now it is time to plan and write down everything. Anything that comes to your mind about your character is worth writing down because you can never know exactly which odd detail from your sketch will actually stand out in the story.

What is your character’s target audience? Where will your character be seen? What are your character vices and strong qualities? What will be the typical daily schedule of your character? What are the pet peeves of your character? Does your character have a nickname? These are all details that can have a bearing on your character’s appearance.

Experiment, try something different.

You never know which queer detail will distinguish your character and grab people’s attention. Don’t concentrate only on those parts of the character that are closely connected with the story. Ignore all rules and try something unusual – a peculiar skin color, twice bigger than the normal-sized head, exaggerated features.

Give your character a personality.

Characters that lack individuality will lack people’s interest in them too. How will your character express his or her emotions? Is your character communicative or shy? Is your character evil or good? Does your character own strength of will? Does your character have any dreams, any goals? These are all parts of your character’s personality and it can all be conveyed in the way your character has been drawn.

Think 3D.

Don’t forget that even on a two-dimensional surface your character has more than one side. Think of your character in its entirety and see how he or she would look like from every viewpoint.

Think in motion.

The image of your character may be static but the character itself is probably not. Consider how you character would look in motion. Is there anything unique in his or her movement – does your character have a belly that trembles when the character is walking, is he or she hopping along, etc.?

Test your creation.

Show your work and ask people to describe how they see your character’s personality judging only by its appearance. This is a great way to test whether you have conveyed well the personality you want.

And last but not least – be patient!

No matter how great your talent is, you should always be prepared for some struggle when developing your character. Don’t allow yourself to get discouraged if a certain feature does not fit the way you would like or if your character does not quite convey the desired mood. Creating a character requires you to give life to a drawing and that is never a simple task.

Submitted by:

Maria Vang

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