omigosh i found THE BEST TUMBLR
so many skintones
all different kinds of people
SO MUCH REFERENCE FOR FACIAL STRUCTURES AND SKINTONES AAAA
SHIT this is great, thank you for sharing!!
i hope this is readable omg
yea take this with a grain of salt because granted half the time i have no idea what im doing and yea
step by step explanation of this
I sort of taught myself how to do this by trial and error when I was making the latest page of my webcomic. I felt it might be useful to share. Thanks for looking!
More Tutorials Here
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’ve 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.
Some Composition tips from Bill Peet!
Does this count as studying?
A tool that I’ve found is really handy is a called the Cash Clock. It’s a simple program that measures both the time that you’re working on a piece as well as how much money you should be earning. You can adjust the hourly wage to whatever you feel is right. Simply start the clock whenever you begin working on a project right up until you’re finished. It can give you a clear indication of what you should charge for commissions.
No artist should make below minimum wage for their artwork.
The Cash Clock is found as a download here.
Oh man I was just telling Muttonchops I should use some kind of stopwatch for when I’m actually working on a picture because I’m pretty sure I need to either charge more (not feasible) or work a fuck of a lot faster/be less distracted.
heeey mega handy!
If you can remember to start this up when you begin a commission, you’ll know when you’re spending more time than what the job is worth.
If you you do freelance work and need to learn how to respect your time better (because if you don’t respect it, no one else will), this is a good tool to help start you on your way!
[x] by [Paul Richards]
[x] by [Ekana] (Can’t find her profile.)
WELP. I have new techniques to try now.
This is the third series of a really good resource book, I would encourage everyone to buy and keep supporting this company.
Halcyon Realms has a " How to buy from Japan Amazon" tutorial here. I usually just order a bunch of books through Kinokuniya since it’s at a slight cheaper shipping price.
I also did previews for the other two books.
Already reffed off this book for a pose or two… If you need to draw kenjutsu-ish action scenes, the other book mentioned here (featuring photos of katana-wielding dudes) is pretty handy.
Aida showed me this cool trick a while ago and its turned into a HUGE staple with how I light things now! Gradient Mapping in photoshop is a subtle way to change the colors in your work and works just like a photoshop mask layer! Meaning, you can change the transparency and how much of what part gets the color influence.
Gradients are also 100% customizable but photoshop is programmed with a few core staples for dramatic and vibrant lighting. The key is finding the saturation you want or like for the art you’re working with! I cant really teach that. 8D
hope this helps others! Play with your lighting!
This is as close as you’ll get to a tutorial by me, a tutorial by someone else about a thing I showed them!
Hi Claire! Thanks so much for helping out! I’ve attached the sketch.
So, for some clarification on what’s going on in the scene. It’s very slightly inspired by an old fairy tale about broken porcelain dolls. In the picture I wanted the story to be this girl is holding one of the dolls from the hutch behind her, but the man who owns them has just entered the room, and she looks up at him. Want him to be casting a shadow on about half the comp. (Which you can faintly see in the sketch.)
The thing is. I wanted this picture to be a super drastic angle and really push three point perspective. But I’m having trouble doing so and without it looking too weird. haha! Especially the girl. I keep trying to bring the horizon line down to about her knees. But somehow it just keeps going back to where it was everytime I redraw it. And last but not least, I even tried taking some reference photos and I still can’t quite capture the the angle and perspective I want.
That was a mouthful. My apologies for the novel! So my questions to you would be, do you have any advice in exaggerating an angle that we can’t quite get in real life? Any ideas as to how I can better capture this correctly. And for composition. i still feel it’s a bit weak since I made it a head-on shot. I thought of making the corner of the room visible and so her back is not against the hutch, if that makes sense. But then i worry it might take away from the story I want it to tell? And if i can even pull that off. haha. okay! I’m done now! So sorry for being so wordy!
You can feel free to make a post about it on tumblr, as others can always benefit from a critique! But if you just reply here, I don’t mind either. :) Thanks so much love!
So you found me out, I’m actually a total perspective junkie! I don’t use it a ton in my own work, weirdly enough, but drawing things in perspective is one of my secret artsy happy places. This stuff is like candy. :)
So first things first, composition aside, you do have a nice handle on perspective- while the composition can definitely use some tweaking, there’s definitely nothing innately wrong about your sketch! It’s just a matter of shaking up the camera angle a little bit and being less tied to that idea of “placing the horizon line.”
If you look at your current composition, it’s actually (almost!) a vertical 2-point perspective- if you rotate the image 90 degrees you’ll notice that one of the perspective planes is straight-on! Totally valid composition, but it also lacks the dynamism/imbalance that’s usually associated with full-on three-point perspective:
(Quick aside- props to you for taking the time to design/draw an actual clutch! I feel like a lot of people phone it in when they’re drawing environments, so the specificity and details you’re hinting at are really compelling. Makes the clutch a character in its own right.)
Let’s talk about designing three-point perspective in a small space.
So I find it immensely weird that a lot of perspective surveys stop at three-point perspective, or at least don’t touch on the fact that, once you bring the horizon into play, you have to take into account the fourth perspective point as objects start to diminish in the other direction. If you don’t, things look less like proper perspective and more like actual shape distortion:
…I’m not gonna go too deep into this right now but, suffice to say for our immediate purposes, forget the horizon line. Throw it out the window. INTO THE HORIZON you might say, hohohohoho.
In a (confined) indoor space, it takes tilting your head/camera pretty damn dramatically to get the vertical lines of a room to diminish á la three-point perspective. Because of this, you probably aren’t going to be able to see the horizon line from that camera angle- you’re either staring at the floor or the ceiling, so the horizon line becomes less of a tool and more of a crutch that’s limiting your options. That dude’s such an asshole.
So to make your life easier, worry less about horizon lines, and more about your individual vanishing points. When you’re thumbnailing, a great way to solidify your perspective (or come up with new ideas, honestly), is to do this:
If you want to push a vanishing point even further away you can just enlarge the pinwheel! pretty cut and dry.
Using compositional hierarchy to reflect narrative.
So now that we’ve covered the actual mechanics of three-point perspective, let’s talk about how to make it work for the story you’re trying to tell.
Option no. 1: (see above) My first instinct would be to consider shifting the camera angle so it’s looking down on her, as opposed to the other way around. It puts us, the viewer, in (or near) the position of the figure in the doorway, and has the added benefit of making her smaller and more vulnerable in the composition- it visually traps her in the space of the room by showing the surrounding walls.
Option no. 1b: never overestimate the value of tilting/canting a composition for a quick Dutch angle! Kinda cheating if you use it too much, but WHAM POW instant drama.
Option no. 2: There are an infinite number of variations on this idea- a sharper angle, cropping in closer on her, etc.- so my solution is by no means the PERFECT BEST COMPOSITION EVER, but it gives you some idea of a different direction you could take with this piece while maintaining your sense of drama/tension.
Option no. 3: Aaaaand of course, as I defiantly drew the previous angles, I started thinking about how it could work from her perspective, kinda closer to your original piece. I do agree with your concerns about a straightforward, “head-on” composition, so I’d imagine at that point you’d have to show the figure silhouetted in the door- your main character would be reacting either to his shadow, or turning to face him.
This methodology for finding narrative compositions is by no means an absolute rule of illustration, by the by- visually “choosing a side” is a great way to immediately interject some drama into an image, but it’s also entirely up to you! You want to end up with something you’re happy with.
Being a “fly in the room.”
One of the best pieces of advice I got from one of my professors, Mary Jane-Begin, was to be a fly in the room. We all tend to settle on certain camera angles, either out of convenience of experience, so letting your mind wander and just sketching out some absurd alternatives can help you stumble across something unexpectedly cool. :)
So tl;dr, it feels like you know what you want out of this piece- these might not be the exact solutions for your tastes, but they might be enough of a push in the right direction that you don’t feel like you’re stalling anymore. I hope all of this is helpful/relevant!
Best of luck, and I can’t wait to see the finished piece! CLAIRE OUT <3
The Lip Tutorial~~~
The final part is on my Livestream the first minute is me trying to remember how to use it.
I also answered some asks:
This is a really effective way to color, actually. I do it all the time. When you make shade layer, make sure you’re ONLY shading SHADOWS and basic diffusion — NOT object/material color values (like, just because the socks should be a dark color, you’re going to completely ignore that in the shading layer.) There are two ways to mix the shading afterward. You can place the shading layer over the flats layer then set the shading to Multiply, OR put the flats over the shading and set the flats to “Color” blending. Then, you just paint some small variances in hue to whichever layer you’ve set blending mode to.
This is a great way to color because it eliminates the need to mix new colors as you pass from one flat to another. It gets less of a painterly look, but in this type of art you’re not going for that anyway. Excellent for comics.
Last one for the day I swear/hope-so I finallyget some work done, but howto’s are cooool! Specially this one! BAM!