SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board

Character consistency

Discussion started on

Administrator
Poster Plus
  • ****
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region dakotas
This is probably a dumb and basic question, but what do you do to work on character consistency? There's a big difference between drawing a person/character once, and drawing them over and over in different ways and keeping them recognizable. Do you use models? Do you reduce your characters to a few key characteristics and emphasize those? I'm sure you learn this in art school 101. But how do you develop this?
#1 - July 12, 2016, 12:31 PM

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region carolinas
 :goodpost Rose! and as a newbie to illustrating I am ALL :eyeballs for some great responses.

PS Definitely not a dumb question!!
#2 - July 12, 2016, 12:59 PM
Vehicle Dreams Series-RPKids '16 -'18
(Fire Truck, Bulldozer, Race Car)
Rainy Day Picnic-Read Your Story '18
The Sparrow and The Trees- Arbordale '15

Official Shenaniganizer
Emeritus
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region canadawest
I think it just takes practice. Usually when I'm designing a character I draw them in a few different angles to see if the design works, but it's drawing over and over that really does it. Muscle memory, I guess, in both your hands and your brain. When I first started KPC, it took concentration to get the character the same each time. After doing like a thousand sketches for 4 80-page books, well, I can draw those characters backwards and forwards. And now I can do that for all my new characters too without the thousands of sketches.

I have heard of people who make a 3D clay model of their characters, and I could see where that would be really useful as well.
#3 - July 12, 2016, 01:03 PM
THIS LITTLE PIGGY (AN OWNER'S MANUAL), Aladdin PIX June 2017 :pigsnort
KUNG POW CHICKEN 1-4, Scholastic 2014 :chicken

http://cyndimarko.com
@cynmarko

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region carolinas
Awesome reply Arty!  :thankyou
#4 - July 12, 2016, 01:32 PM
Vehicle Dreams Series-RPKids '16 -'18
(Fire Truck, Bulldozer, Race Car)
Rainy Day Picnic-Read Your Story '18
The Sparrow and The Trees- Arbordale '15

Official Shenaniganizer
Emeritus
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region canadawest
 :curtsy
#5 - July 12, 2016, 01:38 PM
THIS LITTLE PIGGY (AN OWNER'S MANUAL), Aladdin PIX June 2017 :pigsnort
KUNG POW CHICKEN 1-4, Scholastic 2014 :chicken

http://cyndimarko.com
@cynmarko

I draw stuff for chocolates.
Member
Poster Plus
Before I draw the pages of the book, I spend hours developing the character in sketches, and repeatedly drawing them over and over again. Until I can draw the character consistently from any angle with any expression. Basically, you have to make a groove in your brain for the character, so your brain can remember HOW to draw that character.

Once all my book pages are sketched I set them up side by side and view them in an entirety to make sure little details as well as big ones are consistent throughout the book. I had one character in my last book who was wearing tights in all but one of her appearances. Somehow she's slipped on a pair of ankle socks when I wasn't looking. Some characters are sneaky that way.
#6 - July 13, 2016, 06:32 AM
patreon.com/wendymartin
Animal Totem Mandala 2016
The Story Circle 2016 (Piñata)
Color and Conjure 2017 (Llewellyn)

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region canadaeast
I find that character sketches really help. Then just keep drawing the character in different poses, expressions until they are in your muscle memory. Practice makes perfect. :) Double-checking for consistency later is key. I've accidentally swapped the eye-patched & the pegleg from the Lt to Rt on my pirate character. Only noticed later when the illustrations were side by side.
#7 - July 14, 2016, 10:42 AM
https://marlalesage.com/
Pirate, year round 2019 Acorn Press

Emeritus
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region newengland
I can't add anything, but thought of this thread last night when my 11yo was re-reading ROLLER GIRL for the millionth time, and pointed out an inconsistency in the character drawing -- two pictures had her without eyeblack in between frames of with, and there was no reason for it in the story that my daughter could find.

Anyway, Wendy, I thought of your sneaky characters when she said that!
#8 - July 14, 2016, 02:26 PM

Official Shenaniganizer
Emeritus
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region canadawest
I've had the art director digitally flip sketches on me, and then nobody caught the reversal and KPC's phone ended up on the wrong side. I think we fixed before printing with a patch, but those types of things keep me up at night! I know of one or two places in the published books that still haunt me.  :slaphead
#9 - July 14, 2016, 02:57 PM
THIS LITTLE PIGGY (AN OWNER'S MANUAL), Aladdin PIX June 2017 :pigsnort
KUNG POW CHICKEN 1-4, Scholastic 2014 :chicken

http://cyndimarko.com
@cynmarko

Administrator
Poster Plus
  • ****
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region dakotas
I went hunting online for ideas, too, and the first hit I found was a discussion by Lora Innes (she draws the webcomic The Dreamer, which you should all really check out, because it's fantastic). She's really, really good at drawing distinct characters with such a wide range of expressions, and yet they still look like them. One thing she did to develop this skill was to take a mirror and draw her own face with different expressions--every day. Since she was a kid. So--yes to the practice, but you also want to practice something that will actually help you improve. I guess today you could use a phone or a webcam or something. Anyway, I liked the idea.

I think it's easier of your characters aren't human, but the more human and realistic they are, the pickier the brain gets with consistency. (I have a request to produce several human characters for a project--I don't need too many different poses, but even if it's just two per character, it's not easy!)
#10 - July 14, 2016, 04:10 PM

I draw stuff for chocolates.
Member
Poster Plus
I can't add anything, but thought of this thread last night when my 11yo was re-reading ROLLER GIRL for the millionth time, and pointed out an inconsistency in the character drawing -- two pictures had her without eyeblack in between frames of with, and there was no reason for it in the story that my daughter could find.

Anyway, Wendy, I thought of your sneaky characters when she said that!

Hahaha!
#11 - July 15, 2016, 04:52 AM
patreon.com/wendymartin
Animal Totem Mandala 2016
The Story Circle 2016 (Piñata)
Color and Conjure 2017 (Llewellyn)

Members:

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.