Friday, August 28, 2015

Character Design and Emotion

Initial Character Sketches
Before I start I want to let you know about Doodle Day! Alison Kipnis Hertz will be doing a Doodle Day Challenge in September based around character design! This should help you to create your dummies so I highly recommend you look into this challenge. Don't think of it as a second challenge. Think of it as a way to make the Smart Dummies challenge even easier! Just go to Facebook and join the group. Alison has written a wonderful guest post for early September!

I was going to post about gesture drawing today, but I think since I have so many character sketches on hand I might as well do that first. When starting my character sketching for a story sometimes I'll just need to draw a couple different character designs per character to figure out what my characters will look like. Other days it's just not that easy! It's those other days where I have to do at least one page of initial character sketches just to get things right. The picture to the right is one that I did years ago for a story. None of the characters in the story looked anything like the characters in those sketches! Without these initial sketches I may never have gotten to my final designs.

The best workshop I ever had on character design was Lisa Cinar's workshop at the SCBWI Canada West conference. (SCBWI and Kidlit Conference people get out your checkbooks and hire this woman for your conference now!) If you are in the Lower Mainland of BC you should take her classes. She will be doing a guest post for Smart Dummies in the second half of September.

I like to measure out my characters so I can make sure they are consistent throughout my story. The characters below are for "The Pattern Pals" a comic series I've set aside for the time being. They are measured out in a way that I can see how they would relate to other characters in the story.

You want to know what your character looks at the front, back, side and 3/4th angle at the very least. I did not do the back for most of these characters because they look very much the same from the front and back. The more angles and positions you can put your characters in, the easier it will be to make your characters more consistent in your books. Some people like to make 3-D models of their characters to make sure they are very consistent throughout their stories. Gesture, which I will talk about soon, will help you know your characters better.

Along with knowing how to draw your characters throughout a story it's also important to give your characters emotions. Agents and Editors like to see that you can do a variety of emotions in your drawings. Practice drawing your characters with lots of emotion. Both gesture and facial features come together to show how your character feels.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Ed Emberley and Drawing With Shapes

My Favorite Ed Emberley Book
When I was coming up with topics a few days ago I forgot something that was important. The major thing that any artist needs to know is how make drawing easy (or at least easier). When one says they can't draw something, it often has nothing to do with their drawing skills. Even though there are many things I find difficult to draw I can't help but think that this problem is more mental than anything else. The thing (or person rather) that makes me think this is Ed Emberley and his drawing books. This is his website:

When I was young I use to pick up Ed Emberley's books from the library. From these books I learned how to use simple shapes to create anything. In most learn to draw books I would would see something akin to this:
Who can draw anything from a tutorial like this? I sure can't and I created the original drawing! Many tutorials in art books are like this (some better than others). Most aren't that helpful when you are starting out. This is why I highly recommend looking into Ed Emberley's books. Each part of the tutorials tells you not only what you are drawing, but shows the shape you should draw below the image. The tutorials in the book look something like below:

These books aren't just kid's books. Ed Emberley's books help artists get started thinking in shapes. If you can train your eye to see the basic shapes you should theoretically be able to draw basically anything. The images below are drawn so you can better see the basic shapes in a complex figure.

Drawing basic shapes will allow you to better lay out your page. If you start by drawing squares and circles it's much easier to erase than drawing a whole car, erasing it, and drawing that whole car smaller.

The drawing below is created from the image above. When I start drawing a portrait I'll start by drawing an egg shape for the whole head, lay out where the eyes, nose, mouth and ears should be (this is all represented by the grey lines). Then I go in and make sure that each of these features are in the right position before I start going into deeper detail (black lines). If you get the basic shapes correct, then it will be a lot easier to make a more symmetrical and well drawn illustration.

If you are at the library or bookstore be sure to pick up Ed Emberley's books! Jack Hamm "Drawing the Head and Figure" will go into this in much more detail about drawing the figure. In a day or two I'll talk a bit about gesture. Happy Drawing!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Starting With Thumbnails

When my mom taught herself to draw she started with the simple things: portraits and still lifes. Her favorite by far (and mine too) was portraits. She learned to draw the right eye first and draw the rest of the figure in proportion to that -- a method that's not wholly wrong, but proves problematic when applying to illustration.

The good part of this method is that one learns how everything in the body relates to everything else. Using the eye's width one can determine the width of the nose, the distance between the eyes, and the basic shape of the head. Read Jack Hamm's "Drawing the Head and Figure" to learn more about this and other important aspects of drawing the figure. It's very inexpensive (about $10-$13 usd) and is an excellent reference.

There are many problems with starting with the eye in Illustration. For one, you usually don't have a perfect model to work from. Even then, if you start with something as small as the eye you won't be able to place the figure correctly on the page. To correct this I start by creating thumbnail sketches so I can get an approximation of where everything goes on the page.

If you are a writer think of a thumbnail as a story idea you get in the middle of the night. You scribble it down quickly so you can go back to sleep. Thumbnails aren't perfect -- especially mine. It's okay for these to be sloppy since no one will ever see them. Unless you write a blog post and display the sloppiness on your blog! Note: I have much sloppier thumbnails for my dummies, but couldn't show them here.

Check back soon for more information about how to make laying out the page and making better images. I will be writing about gesture, character design/emotion, and anything else I can think of this week. I will also be having a few other people with posts to help you get thinking about Smart Dummies!

Sign up for Smart Dummies here:

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Akemi Ito and Suzanne Del Rizzo Join Smart Dummies!

Akemi Ito is joining the Smart Dummies to give a wonderful step by step process post so you can see how she does her work.

Suzanne Del Rizzo will be joining us with an interview. I asked her all the hard questions. I forgot to ask her about ice cream, but that will have to wait until another time.

I'm sorry I haven't been posting as much as I should! My brain is leaking out my ears right now. Know I'm working on making this event spectacular. I should have a few good art posts up soon!

Friday, August 14, 2015

A Great Illustration Post and an Update

I'm hoping through this event you will all learn a lot! I just wanted to point out Patricia Pinsk's new post Keep this post in mind as you work on your dummies and come back to it once the event is over!

I am having a problem with the feed for my blog. I'm not sure why, but all my posts are not being emailed  until 9am PST the next day. At least this is the case for me. I'm trying to get this resolved before the start of the event.

I have also had a bit of problems with the $20 Amazon Card giveaway. I do not know what's going on, but please let me know if your entries don't show up! I can enter them in manually if I have to. There is still tons of time to enter this contest:

Thursday, August 13, 2015

New Prize - Dummy Critique by Lauren Eldridge

Lauren Eldridge just let me know that she is generously donating a Dummy Critique for the Smart Dummies challenge! This is a fantastic opportunity for you to get feedback on your work. This challenge is getting more exciting every day.

I thought that Stephen Macquignon was donating 2 post cards as prizes. I received them in the mail today and was pleasantly surprised to find 6 post cards! I'm not sure if I'm going to pair them up or give out 6 to separate people.  They are gorgeous and anyone will be lucky to get them.

If you haven't signed up for Smart Dummies yet go here:

I decided that I'm putting the Paper Dolls on pause as well as my weekly updates until after Smart Dummies is over. I need to focus more time on the event and hope you will understand!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Pre Smart Dummies Giveaway!

Note: If you do enter this contest, please comment below so I can make sure your entry is counted. For some reason Rafflecopter is not registering all the entries right now and I may have to enter people manually!

I have a ton of work left to get Smart Dummies set up for September and I just don't have all the time for advertising. I know there are a ton of people who just haven't joined the event, but are planning on joining. So I'm hoping that there are lots of people out there who can help me out! I'm giving away a $20 USD Amazon Gift card to one lucky winner in this giveaway.

I have put the most emphasis on people who get someone they know to join. If you have talked about the event already in any way (no matter the link you've used), then you have earned the 3 points for Sharing the event. This giveaway runs now until the 30th of August. Please help me out by sharing this event! I will post the winner on August 31st. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway