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Digital Art: Character Design

As I dive deeper into the world of children’s book illustration and animation, character design is a skill that I am actively practicing, learning and improving upon. So last week, when I received an email about the Women in Animation May Instagram Drawing challenge, I knew I had to participate!

The prompt was to recreate this original illustration from Seline Abanto in our own style. The May 19 deadline was fast approaching; I started my drawing that morning and submitted it by the evening. My goal was achieved! 

Here’s the version that I submitted.

My submission for Women in Animation May Drawing Challenge

This drawing challenge made me think about what are the key elements that make for great character design?  

When I draw characters, here are the key elements I focus on:

  • Shape
  • Personality
  • Color palette

Shape can be achieved by effective shading, using a color that is darker than the main color and if drawing digitally, add layers of shading using a soft air brush. 

Give your characters personality through facial expressions. As I learned in a children’s book illustration class that I took last year, the way you draw eyes is key!  A character's eye shape provides insight into the personality of the character. 

Choosing the right color palette for your character can help engage the audience. Too many colors can be distracting, so it is important to be intentional and selective.

I decided to draw the same character again, this time, with a focus on shading, eyes and colors.  Here’s version 2:

Version 2 of my girl character design

Conclusion:  I’m really glad that I entered the WIA drawing challenge.  It prompted me to think about my drawing technique and I feel inspired to develop my own signature style for character design.

And while most of my character art is created digitally, I also feel inspired to draw my characters with traditional mediums like watercolor, gouache and pen.  Stay tuned...more to come on character design!

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