Whether I'm designing for sports teams, corporations or publishing, my approach is one borne of story. In finding a character, I think about story elements in order to define personality. How does my character fit into the story? From there I consider other factors like what is her role? What is he trying to say? Does she wear glasses? How does he stand? What's her favorite color? What do these choices say about his personality? Every design decision you make should serve the overall narrative.
Let's begin with a collection of designs from a personal project. I'll make notes on topics which are helpful to me in character development. Later, I'll post additional character work and we'll see if I've learned any new tricks.
Our heroine is a spunky 12 year-old girl. She is described as being "too smart for her own good." She and her friends are into all things paranormal and they encounter a series of mysteries in their sleepy little town.
• Age appropriate clothing is very important. I look at everything from tween TV shows to clothing retail stores for ideas and fashion trends. It also helps to have daughters in this age group!
• I do my drawings in non-photo blue or Col-Erase red pencil and then tighten them up with graphite.
• I try to avoid the dread "smarm brow" but it sometimes creeps into my work.
• I'm always striving to convey personality through expression.
• I also think about recognizable silhouettes for my characters. Size and shape are very important in distinguishing one character from another and help to create visual interest in an assembled cast.
• Sometimes it can be challenging to develop readable silhouettes. This concept art for a Chase Bank book aimed at the hispanic community to promote saving and investment opportunities shows the importance of making similar characters easily identifiable.