No matter how stylized or realistic your character, taking the time to see how costumes and surface features like skin, hair, scales, feathers, wings, claws, or tails function can lend credibility to your creation. Research is necessary for authenticity. Watch how different visual resources are used in final drawings for my books. See how I pull together all of the previous layers of drawing—gesture and shape, anatomy and turnaround, and now final sketch form—and research the finishing details.
- There's nothing worse than a character design…created without the proper research.…No matter how stylized or realistic your character…taking the time to see how costumes…and surface features like skin, hair,…scales, feathers, wings,…claws, or tails function…can lend credibility to your creation.…I work in a style that is surrealistic…or magically realistic,…and so I find research especially important…when design animal characters…or a personification in creature form.…
For the dragons on Dazzle Island…I had to figure out how to represent my own…version of a dragon for the story.…As it's a mythical creature I first researched…many different versions of the dragons.…I concluded pretty quickly that dragons…typically have scales, claws, and horns.…And so my first thought was to look at things…with scales, claws, and horns.…Lizards, of course.…And for the wings I was inspired more by bats than birds,…as the wing structure felt more connected…to a lizard-like form than birds wings.…
Taking inspiration from these real creatures…
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