Creating Your Character

Topic: THE PERFECT FIFI  

One of my favorite parts of illustrating is creating the main character. I love letting my imagination go wild and creating someone no one has ever met before. In fact, whenever I want to write a story, I somehow always start with the main character. What kind of person do I want to bring to life? What kind of background and personality do I want he or she to have? Is this character funny, smart, cute, shy, outgoing, talkative, small, tall, and everything in between? Creating a character has no limits, and that's what makes it so fun. 

For this How-To-Book blog post, I wanted to show you the process of creating the main character, Fifi, for a children's book I am illustrating. In this case, I was told certain features and characteristics that the author wanted Fifi to have, and this particular drawing is the first introduction of her in the book! 

Step 1: The first thing I do when creating a new character is a 20 minute sketch to structure everything. I usually start with the eyes, and then work my away around to create the face. I think the eyes are the most important feature, because they set the course of the rest of your drawing, and really convey the expression that you want. For Fifi, the author wanted big eyes, brown hair, and a cute, happy face!  

Step 2: After structuring the face, getting the right expression, and creating the context of where Fifi is (in her bedroom), I then begin to play with colors. This step takes about an hour or so. I simply color in the drawing with the first coat of colors, and make sure all of the colors balance each other out. This step may make your character look a little flat at first, but just wait till we had some contrast!  

Step 3: This is my favorite step, and the longer of the two. Once I am pleased with the colors, I go back in again and bring out the shapes and curves of the drawing by adding highlights. For example, when going over Fifi's pillow, I took a lighter pink than the pink I had used in the first coat, and used this lighter tone to accentuate the pillow. Adding lighter and darker tones to an subject, like Fifi, makes it look more 3D, and it is as if she is popping right out at you! 

Well, there you have it! The perfect Fifi. Stay tuned for more How-To-Book blog posts, and the unraveling of Fifi's children's book. Oh, and by the way, the author loved how she turned out. Score!