lazy day doodles =w=
character belong to donkey
I love this so much I’m going to yell
Character design and drawing are tome-sized topics and even if I had all the answers (I don’t - I have a lot to learn), I’m not sure I could communicate them effectively. I’ve gathered some thoughts and ideas here, though, in case they’re helpful.
First, some general things:
- Relax and let some of that anxiety go. This isn’t a hard science. There’s no wrong way, no rigid process you must adhere to, no shoulds or shouldn’ts except those you designate for yourself. This is one of the fun parts of being an artist, really - have a heady good time with it.
- Be patient. A design is something gradually arrived at. It takes time and iteration and revision. You’ll throw a lot of stuff away, and you’ll inevitably get frustrated, but bear in mind the process is both inductive and deductive. Drawing the wrong things is part of the path toward drawing the right thing.
- Learn to draw. It might seem perfunctory to say, but I’m not sure everyone’s on the same page about what this means. Learning to draw isn’t a sort of rote memorization process in which, one by one, you learn a recipe for humans, horses, pokemon, cars, etc. It’s much more about learning to think like an artist, to develop the sort of spacial intelligence that lets you observe and effectively translate to paper, whatever the subject matter. When you’re really learning to draw, you’re learning to draw anything and everything. Observing and sketching trains you to understand dimension, form, gesture, mood, how anatomy works, economy of line; all of the foundational stuff you will also rely on to draw characters from your imagination.
Spend some time honing your drawing ability. Hone it with observational sketching. Hone it good.
- I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone do this sort of thing better than Claire Wendling. In fact, character designs emerge almost seamlessly from her gestural sketches. It’d be worth looking her up.
- Gather Inspiration like a crazed magpie. What will ultimately be your trademark style and technique is a sort of snowball accumulation of the various things you expose yourself to, learn and draw influence from. To that effect, Google images, tumblr, pinterest and stock photo sites are your friends. When something tingles your artsy senses - a style, a shape, a texture, an appealing palette, a composition, a pose, a cool looking animal, a unique piece of apparel, whatever - grab it. Looking at a lot of material through a creative lens will make you a better artist the same way reading a lot of material makes a better writer.
It’ll also devour your hard drive and you will try and fail many times to organize it, but more importantly, it’ll give you a lovely library of ideas and motivational shinies to peruse as you’re conjuring characters.
- Imitation is a powerful learning tool. Probably for many of us, drawing popular cartoon characters was the gateway habit that lured us into the depraved world of character design to begin with. I wouldn’t suggest limiting yourself to one style or neglecting your own inventions to do this, but it’s an effective way to limber up, to get comfortable drawing characters in general, and to glean something from the thought processes of other artists.
- Use references. Don’t leave it all up to guessing. Whether you’re trying to design something with realistic anatomy or something rather profoundly abstracted from reality, it’s helpful in a multitude of ways to look at pictures. When designing characters, you can infer a lot personality from photos, too.
And despite what you might have heard, having eyeballs and using them to look at things doesn’t constitute cheating. There’s no shame in reference material. There’s at least a little shame in unintentional abstractions, though.
Concepts and Approach:
- Break it down. Sometimes you have the look of a character fleshed out in your mind before putting it to paper, but usually not. That doesn’t mean you have to blow your cortical fuses trying conceive multiple diverse designs all at the same time, though. You don’t even have to design the body shape, poses, face, and expressions of a single character all at once. Tackle it a little at a time.
The cartoony, googly eyed style was pre-established for this simple mobile game character, but I still broke it into phases. Start with concepts, filter out what you like until you arrive at a look, experiment with colors, gestures and expressions.
- Start with the general and work toward the specific. Scribbling out scads of little thumbnails and silhouettes to capture an overall character shape is an effective way begin - it’s like jotting down visual notes. When you’re working at a small scale without agonizing over precision and details, there’s no risk of having to toss out a bunch of hard work, so go nuts with it. Give yourself a lot of options.
Here’s are some sample silhouettes from an old cancelled project in which I was tasked with designing some kind of cyber monkey death bot. I scratched out some solid black shapes then refined some of them a step or two further.
- Here’s an instructional video by Feng Zhu about doing much the same thing (only way better).
- Shapes are language. They come preloaded with all sorts of biological, cultural and personal connotations. They evoke certain things from us too. If you’re ever stuck about where to go with your design, employ a sort of anthroposcopy along these lines - make a visual free association game out of it. It’ll not only tend to result in a distinguished design, but a design that communicates something about the nature of the character.
Think about what you infer from different shapes. What do they remind you of? What personalities or attitudes come to mind? How does the mood of a soft curve differ from that of a sharp angle? With those attributes attached, how could they be used or incorporated into a body or facial feature shape? What happens when you combine shapes in complementary or contrasting ways? How does changing the weight distribution among a set of shapes affect look and feel? Experiment until a concept starts to resonate with the character you have in mind or until you stumble on something you like.
If you don’t have intent, take the opposite approach - draw some shapes and see where they go. (It’s stupid fun.)
- You might also find it helpful to watch Bobby Chiu’s process videos in which he feels out his character designs as he paints.
- Cohesion and Style. As you move from thumbnails to more refined drawings, you can start extrapolating details from the general form. Look for defining shapes, emergent themes or patterns and tease them out further, repeat them, mirror them, alternate them. Make the character entirely out of boxy shapes, incorporate multiple elements of an architectural style, use rhythmically varying line weights - there are a million ways to do this
Here’s some of the simple shape repetition I’ve used for Lackadaisy characters.
- Expressions - let them emerge from your design. If your various characters have distinguishing features, the expressions they make with those features will distinguish them further. Allow personality to influence expressions too, or vice versa. Often, a bit of both happens as you continue drawing - physiognomy and personality converge somewhere in the middle.
For instance, Viktor’s head is proportioned a little like a big cat. Befitting his personality, his design lets him make rather bestial expressions. Rocky, with his flair for drama, has a bit more cartoon about him. His expressions are more elastic, his cheeks squish and deform and his big eyebrows push the boundaries of his forehead. Mitzi is gentler all around with altogether fewer lines on her face. The combination of her large sleepy eyes and pencil line brow looked a little sad and a little condescending to me when I began working out her design - ultimately those aspects became incorporated into her personality.
- Pose rendering is another one of those things for which observational/gesture drawing comes in handy. Even if you’re essentially scribbling stick figures, you can get a handle on natural looking, communicative poses this way. Stick figure poses make excellent guidelines for plotting out full fledged character drawings too.
Look for the line of action. It’ll be easiest to identify in poses with motions, gestures and moods that are immediately decipherable. When you’ve learned to spot it, you can start reverse engineering your own poses around it.
- Additional resources - here are some related things about drawing poses and constructing characters (click the images for the links).
- Tortured rumination about lack of ability/style/progress is a near universal state of creative affairs. Every artist I have known and worked with falls somewhere on a spectrum between frustration in perpetuity and a shade of fierce contrition Arthur Dimmesdale would be proud of. So, next time you find yourself constructing a scourge out of all those crusty acrylic brushes you failed to clean properly, you loathsome, deluded hack, you, at least remember you’re not alone in feeling that way. When it’s not crushing the will to live out of you, the device does have its uses - it keeps you self-critical and locked in working to improve mode. If we were all quite satisfied with our output, I suppose we’d be out of reasons to try harder next time.
When you need some reassurance, compare old work to new. Evolution is gradual and difficult to perceive if you’re narrowed in on the nearest data point, but if you’ve been steadily working on characters for a few months or a year, you’ll likely see a favorable difference between points A and B.
Most of all, don’t dwell on achieving some sort of endgame in which you’re finally there as a character artist. There’s no such place - wherever you are, there is somewhere else. It’s a moving goal post. Your energy will be better spent just enjoying the process…and that much will show in the results.
Character Designs from The ballad of Nessie by Andreas Deja
she’s so cute. It’s so… 60s-esque era type design, I love it, what a great throwback all of these are
“AnimDessin2” 2.0.0 for Photoshop CC
A version for Photoshop CS6 users exist, named AnimDessin version 3.0.0:
To download it, you first need to install the Adobe Exchange panel from here:
Then, form the Adobe Exchange panel (Window > Extensions), search from AnimDessin.”
Since the colors are never what they look like, It’s useful to understand the color in two ways : the RELATIVE color and the ABSOLUTE color.
The Relative color is the color as it is seen, according to the perception of the eye and the translation from the brain to the mind.
The Absolute color is the color as it is, in reality.
This is part of the colors relationship, and the contrast of the colors.
To be able to get the right relative color (meaning without any false notes), it’s crucial to know what its absolute color really is.
For example, the absolute color of grey is very often the relative complementary color of its surrounding color.
Depending of the kind of picture and depending of your color’s intentions (that is off special effect or narrative effect),
using an absolute complementary (that is, for the previous e.g, a true blue) in direct contact to its surrounding colors may easily create
a so much strong contrast that the mind will perceive it as a false note, then causing a global unbalance on all other colors in the image.
E.g, here is the page 05 from “Detectives” vol.02 (Hanna/Sure/Lou, ©Delcourt editions)
The “grey” panels 05 and 09 have a cold vibration, almost blue, because they are in a direct relationship within a yellow hot tan.
This two panels, in minority, are also secondary in the narration of the page.
Using a true absolute blue would reverse this narrative order because the color contrast would became so much strong that they would became the primary focal point of the page.
Let us look a little closer at the 3rd strip.
The mind read the left panel as cold, in a subtle blue. The shirts are read as white, and the bottles of champagne as greenish…
…but by isolating the absolute colors, in comparison with a Titanium white, none of this previously mentioned relatives colors exist in this picture.
…And if they were, the balance of the colors would be broken, and the falses notes would be made.
Notice how the eye now read differently the picture, it can’t stop looking at those white shirts and then those bottles.
It almost forget to look at the balloons and the characters. ( i’ll talk about the narration through the contrast of colors later, in another post)
It is the same for the values.
A relative value defines itself compared with its surrounding values.
Let’s look back at our 3rd strip.
Watch the contrast between the shirts, and the light jacket in the front, how they seem to be so much lighter in comparison with the other clothes.
When in reality, if we compare them to each other, the difference became a lot more subtle than it seemed to be.
This is a side effect of the relative color.
The mind analyzes et translates a color based on its database stocked in its memory, trying to identify the color in the most simple and efficient way possible.
The shirt itself is light indeed, and white. But it’s simply its “name”. Its “classification”, its “identity” (see the flat step of my quick step by step).
What we’ll ask in a store.
In reality, this shirt is not white, and not much lighter than the light face of the grey jacket or the blue shirt.
But for our mind, white means light. Lighter than everything.
However, a white shirt in shadow is often darker than a back shirt in the light, whatever the mind is saying.
So, compare, isolate, compare, isolate, compare, always.
You can change your “mind database” with some practice.
By using a paper sheet with holes to isolate outside colors. ( grey paper is best)
Or by opening some pictures in a software and use the color-picker to learn what is going on with the color relationship.
Testing yourself to find out the absolute color of your surrounding whenever you can.
Then, colorisation will become much easier, and like a musician able to reproduce a song he heard a the first try,
you’ll develop the Golden eye.
Apparently it’s Kyrii Day on Neopets. So here’s some old adoptables I made for Sunnyneo in 2011, but haven’t been used. So since I liked how a bit of them came out, I figured I’d share.
Anonymous said: I love your tutorials! Thank you so much for creating them :) I was wondering if it would be ok to ask you about sketching advice? Often I've found that my sketches are rigid or use too many strokes and I'm not sure how to fix them. I admire your sketches for being simple and flowing and I would love if you could share some advice on how to achieve that sort of feel. Thank you so much and have a good day!!
!! Thanks a bunch, i’m flattered anyone would come to me for advice >_<. I was going to just link to some resources i remembered from back in the day but apparently searching for “furry lines” these days just yields tutorials on drawing furries ah aha ha >_> So lemme just try to do a quick write up with examples!
"Furry lines" as I call them are a VERY common technique beginner-intermediate artists use. It’s something every artist will naturally break through on their own with more and more practice sketching and drawing, but I think you can expedite the process by identifying why you do it and purposefully working away from it!
Here i’m using gardevoir as a “mental image” of what you want. You want those pretty flowing lines of the figure in your minds eye, but you want to get it just right. You lay down one stroke, and see it’s already wrong, so you go ahead and lay down another to correct it. It’s kinda right, but also kinda wrong, so you try again. Over and over till the end. Over all it looks kinda right.. but the brokeness of the lines destroy the fluidity and well, unintentional “furry” look haha.
The things you will want to remember is that, you will never get it right in one stroke, especially not in a sketch (which by definition ins’t supposed to be perfect!). You will probably never match exactly whats in your minds eye so there’s no point in trying to get it so precise with so many strokes. Instead focus on LONGER strokes that can still be wrong
And when you realize you can’t really be “perfect” you have less urgency to do those short furry lines to get it JUST RIGHT. You become more comfortable getting it all wrong, and going over it again in longer strokes. The end result with a lot of retraining is you still don’t get things perfect, but they are they actually wrong? or just not the same as what you wanted in your mind?
You still need to do lots of personal practice, just practice making long strokes with your ELBOWS and SHOULDERS NOT your fingers! Lots of pages of just lines, random doodles and stuff to understand the feeling of fluidity. Doesn’t have to be something in specific, just teaching your body what feels right and what feels wrong. But coupled with understanding WHY the furry lines are wrong and WHY you want to do it i think will help you move faster.
I hope this helps you, Anon! Good luck master the non furry lines XD