Wednesday, August 21, 2013

My First Picture Book Dummy Part 4 - Character Design

Part 1 - Concept And Inspiration
Part 2 - Writing
Part 3 - Thumbnails
Part 4 - Character Design 
Part 5 - Roughs 
Part 6 - Finals

In preparation for this post I came to the realization that I did a terrible job at designing the characters for my picture book dummy, in the sense that I didn't.
I went back into my folders looking for my rough designs that I assumed that I had done while writing and thumbnailing and came up empty except for this:

My only character design sketches

That's it.

One pass of just the main character.

Impressive isn't it?

Now, to be fair to myself I had already done a test long before I even wrote a line of the story. This was back before I decided to expand the concept into anything more than a standalone promo piece.

Early test and promo postcard

I think I intended to spend more time designing my characters but I grew impatient and figured that I could do it on the fly. That's what I typically do since most of my projects to date have been one offs. I normally just design the character within the composition. This is one of the reasons that many of my characters look a bit alike, I just swap in different noses, hair, clothing and TaDaa! Character! So by default I guess that was my process for this dummy as well.

This "mannequin dressing" process has served me well enough but I've decided to push myself to become more creative with the personalities of characters. I mostly aim to do this by varying their shapes and sizes more. With this purpose in mind I'm starting my own character design challenge that I'm calling The #140characters140days Initiative. Please check it out and feel free to take part!

While I feel that I failed in my overall character prep, I did do heaps of research for the characters clothing which was quite useful. A great resource were clothing store websites. The ones I like best are Gap, Old Navy, J. Crew, and Etsy.

The major reference I used for the family was real life. Something I knew going in was that I'd be modelling the family members in the book after my own family. This was a no-brainer since this book is primarily for my daugter and she likes to assign people she knows to the characters in her books anyway (sometimes I even get to be a lamp) so I thought I would save her the trouble and base the characters loosely on ourselves.

The left tire is me.

Stay tuned, next post I'll write about creating all those many many roughs. Until then, Excelsior! 

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