Character Development

For my Dissertation I researched how to translate observational drawing into character development for Children’s picture books. Above is my process, using the drawing techniques I had researched.

I began to draw from video as my observation using dip pen and ink. I had researched Reportage Illustrator Jenny Soep (see previous post) who uses wash and pencil to help explore the relationship between shape and the detail that will tell the essential crux of the story. I enjoyed using a dip pen and ink, but wanted a softer medium to portray my character, as the video I drew from, told her story of loneliness. I felt the pencil portrayed a vulnerability.

I then explored the silhouette, to make sure the whole body was communicating an expression, not just the face. From these silhouettes, I picked 2, to begin developing in colour. I drew the colour as shapes, to see if the composition worked before developing a more detailed drawing. This helped me get to know my character, who I named Margaret.

I then began to think about how I could create a character from these drawings. I read Linda Barry’s book, making comics, who suggests a drawing exercise where you draw a closed shape and turn it into a character. This was a very fun and playful exercise, which helped me reflect on the back story I had created for Margaret. Margaret is a sweet eccentric lady who collects tea pots and loves gardening. I started to think of a composition to combine Margaret with a teapot. I decided to draw Margaret in the reflection of the teapot, which I felt portrayed her character and also created a distance between the character and audience. Margaret is reaching out towards the teapot and out towards the audience, which shows her sense of loneliness in old age.

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