Using real people as a source of inspiration, both their personalities and their looks, can give you an immediate springboard into characters that an audience recognizes and believes. You’ll learn the ways that you can access this resource, through live sketching, mentally cataloging, photographing people, and using your own face to provide source material. Discover the methods Mary Jane uses for developing characters and unlocking their spirit.
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- The first go-to source for developing…a character's design is to look to available subjects…to draw inspiration from, yourself or the people around you.…Borrowing elements directly from these sources…helps to give your character credibility.…Some artists sketch directly from life,…while others catalog people mentally,…then draw later.…I like to document information with photography,…then distill what I'm looking at while sketching.…When I illustrated the classic tale,…"The Wind in the Willows," I used a friend of mine…for the character of Mole, because his personality…so perfectly fit the character.…
To make it real for me, I adapted Mole…to look as much like my friend Jeff as I could,…taking lots of pictures of his facial expressions,…stance, and body gestures.…His signature brows were a dominant feature…that I borrowed, and was especially helpful…for creating expressions of emotion.…For the character of Toad, I studied the face…of Buddy Cianci, a well-known political figure.…At the time that I created this character,…
Mary Jane explains how the components of good character design can be broken down into concrete elements. She shows how body shape, posture, anatomy, facial expression, costume, color, movement, and abstract aspects like archetypes and environment bring a character to life. The lessons are illustrated with examples from Mary Jane's books, as well as famous, heart-warming characters created by a group of extraordinary character designers.
- Capturing the heart and soul of a character
- Using the right tools
- Relying on archetypes
- Adding motion
- Painting shapes and silhouettes
- Understanding anatomy and proportion
- Creating easy-to-read facial expressions
- Coloring your character
- Designing a cast of characters
- Making fantasy creatures believable
- Going from 2D to 3D