On My Mind

-thoughts of a wife, mom, author, illustrator, juggler, toy designer, teacher, camp director, ...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Character Challenge Summary

My Summary
The Character Challenge is officially over but I plan to continue working on Character Design. Here are the characters that I designed during the challenge:




26-40+ YEAR OLDS

I hope you will post a summary showing the characters that you designed during the Character Challenge.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Character Challenge - Day 13: 26-40+ year olds

Day 13: 26-40+ year olds

Welcome to Day 13 of the Character Challenge! This is our last prompt and if you have made it this far, you should have worked on characters ranging from 2 years old to 25 years old as well as eyes, ears, noses, mouths, posture, and costumes. I have filled many pages of my sketchbook and I hope you have, too.

Here are the links to the previous posts:
Day 1: Head Shapes
Day 2: Toddlers 2-4 years old
Day 3: All About Eyes
There was no post on Saturday or Sunday
Day 11: 18-25 year olds
Day 12: Costuming a Character

Today's prompt is 26-40+ year olds. Of course you can sketch older than 40 - that's what the + is for. The sky is the limit. This just means grown ups, adults, big people, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, people in the work force, people who entertain, people who you see every day. Remember that we are making characters here so don't worry about realism. Does that guy at the deli counter have big ears? Make them bigger in a character. Does that woman have spikey hair? Make it more spikey in a character. Take features farther.

On Monday, I will post a summary showing many of the characters that I created during this challenge on this blog. If you post a summary showing your characters, share the link in these comments so we can all see what was created. Don't feel that you have to spend the weekend inking and coloring some high quality character pieces - sketches, doodles, pencil are all fine.

Have fun and thank you for taking this challenge with me!

In January, I will be working on scenes (not focusing on the characters - just the backgrounds/locations/places) so if you want to do those with me, let me know.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Character Challenge - Day 12: Costuming a Character

Day 12: Costuming a Character

Welcome to Day 12 of the Character Challenge! You should be knee deep in doodles and sketches of 18-25 year olds. For me, designing adult characters is much more difficult than children. I don't know why - just is. In any case, at this point, we have worked on characters who are 2-4 years old, 5-8 years old, 9-12 years old, 13-17 years old and 18-25 years old. We have also worked on noses, eyes, ears, mouths and posture.

Here are the links to all of the previous Character Challenge posts if you want to check back or need to catch up:
Day 1: Head Shapes
Day 2: Toddlers 2-4 years old
There was no post on Saturday or Sunday
Day 11: 18-25 year olds

Today, I am writing about Costuming a Character. Costumes are a lot of fun. Your character can be anything. Anything! Remember that this isn't the real world - these are your characters - your stories - your drawings. Do you want your character to get shot out of a cannon straight toward the moon? Go for it! Is your character a tiny fairy with super tall flowers surrounding her? Sure! This is fiction. Anything can happen. A good costume doesn't have to be complex, either. It can be appealing through straight forward simplicity. A pirate sword and an eye patch or a ray gun and pointy collared shirt can tell a viewer who this character is.

Take some of those young adults you are working on and add a king's crown and robe, doctors scrubs, space suit, fireman's jacket and hat, baseball pants, shirt, and hat (don't forge the cleats). Think of any job or make one up and try the outfit on your character. You don't have to do a bunch, just try one - sketch it. We're not looking for portfolio pieces in this challenge - this is a time to play.

Have fun!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Character Challenge - Day 11: 18-25 year olds

Day 11: 18-25 year olds
Welcome to Day 11 of the Character Challenge! We have sketched toddlers, kids, pre-teens, and teens. We have also worked on eyes, ears, noses, and mouths. If you have been keeping up with this challenge, great job! We are moving pretty fast and only have a few prompts to go!
Here are links to the past Cha-Cha Posts:
There was no post on Saturday or Sunday
Today's prompt is 18-25 year olds. College students and recent grads. This age group includes young people choosing careers and entering the work force or joining the military. In books, we now refer to them as New Adult - and they have their own genre.
What you ever knew about figure drawing can pretty much go out the window on "characters." Your squat adult male might only be three heads tall. Your young dad character might be just 4 or 5 heads tall. What makes these characters different from the children using same number of heads in height is that their face moves up on the head to the bottom third or even closer to the center. Ears move up to be between the eyes and nose instead of down between the nose and mouth. Hands get more defined. Clothing changes - grown up style. Women may wear jewelry. Men may wear a hat (other than a baseball hat). Hairstyles become cleaner with less fly away hairs.
Posture - "Posture can either energize or rob it of its energy." - Chris Hart
You can show a characters feelings even without facial features.
Here are a few stances:
Forward Leaning = aggressive or eager
Backward Leaning = easy going
Neutral but swayed forward a bit = Cute and innocent
Bend the knees and lean your character back a bit  = a goofy look. Think Moose from the Archie comics.
Think about posture when drawing these young adults. Is he or she heading off to college or to a job at the Chicken Shack? Give him a silly work uniform and show in his posture that he is either excited to go or dreading the idea.
Have fun!
Come back tomorrow for a new post.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Character Challenge - Day 10: The Mouth

Day 10: The Mouth
Welcome to Day 10 of the Character Challenge. So far, we have worked on characters in the age ranges of 2-4, 5-8, 9-12, and currently 13-17. We have also worked on Head Shapes, Noses, and Ears. Below is a link to all of the previous Character Challenge posts:
There was no post on Saturday or Sunday
Today, I'll share a little info about Mouths. Mouths are a lot of fun to draw because they can be soo expressive (like the eyes). You can twist mouths in funky shapes to show different emotions. A tiny dot can show a character at a loss for words. A tilted line (along with a squinty eye) can show a character who is perplexed. Mouths can also be super wide showing amazement or anger. Doodle up some blank head shapes and try different mouths - you don't even have to add the nose or eyes or anything else - just go for different emotions with mouth shapes OR add some different moods to those moody teenagers that we are working on from yesterday's post OR just try some a page of mouths showing different reactions. Have fun with it.
Here are some mouth reference photos:

Have fun!
Come back tomorrow for the next age group prompt.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Character Challenge - Day 9: 13-17 year olds

Day 9: 13-17 year olds
Welcome to the second week of the Character Challenge! During last week, we worked on head shapes, 2-4 year old characters, eyes, noses, 5-8 year olds, and 9-12 year olds. I hope you were able to sketch out at least one character for each of those age groups.

Here are links to last week's posts:
Day 1: Head Shapes
Day 6: 9-12 year olds

For this week, our characters are getting older and today we start working on TEENAGERS. Specifically 13-17 year olds - the reason that I am not including 18 and 19 year olds is because once a person finishes high school and heads off to college - they are often into different things so we will work on them in a couple of days. For today and tomorrow, stick with High School students.
Things to keep in mind when designing teenage characters: High school students often break off into clicks or groups. You've got the brainiacs, the nerds, the goths, slobs, goofballs, athletes, etc...everyone from Miss Popular to Mr Total Nerd and they can all be super funny characters.
Boys: Teenager boys (unless they are the big athletic type) can be lanky with overly long legs, arms, and neck - skinny but fit. 4-6 heads tall should work for these boys. Finger tips can stretch to a couple inches above the knee.
Girls: Give your teenage girl character some hips and pull her waist in a bit. Give her some earrings and add a few eyelashes. You can make your girl characters taller than the boys (and still look like teenagers) because they are growing faster and the reality is that many of the high school girls can be a head taller than the boys. Unless your character is meant to be small, go for 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 heads tall for the teenage girls. Chris Hart states in his book, THE HUMUNGOUS BOOK OF CARTOONING that the girl's fingers for this age range will taper a bit - not showing nails but more defined that the boys at the same age.
Remember - all of these tips and suggestions are just that. Suggestions. You don't have to use any of it when designing your characters. Observe some teens this afternoon. If you have time, head over to the mall and find a seat in a popular area. Bring your sketchbook. Look at what the kids are wearing, how they are standing. Do some super fast gestural drawings to show poses (these can be stick figures - just stay loose with your lines).
Here is a Chris Hart video on drawing a cartoon girl...

Have fun!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Character Challenge - Day 6: 9-12 year olds

Day 6: 9-12 year olds
Welcome to Day 6 of the Character Challenge! So far we have worked on Head Shapes, Eyes, and Noses and created some 2-4 year old and 5-8 year old characters. I hope you are enjoying this journey with me.
Here are the links to past Character Challenge posts:
Starting today, work on characters who are between 9 and 12 years old. These kids range from 4th grade to 7th grade. The 4th graders will be around 4 heads tall and the 7th graders could be as tall as 5 heads tall already (especially the girls).
As kids grow, they often get lanky. Kids commonly thin out and their knees and elbows get knobby in 6th and 7th grade. Much of the growth during these years shows in the arms, legs and feet. All of a sudden, their arms hang to mid thigh and their feet look oddly long. Facial features move up on the face. The younger kid's features were down low making them cute and their heads look large - move the features for this group a little higher and move the ears up, too.
Most of the baby fat is gone while some kids will start to get chubby - this is a different kind of thickness to the body. Baby fat is in the hands, feet, thighs and cheeks. Chubby kids tend to hold their weight in their belly, arms and thighs. If you are working on these heavier set kids, make the neck wide or don't show a neck at all. If you sketch them 5 heads tall, they will look like giant football players so keep the proportions down to 3-4 heads for them.
As far as who these kids are - this is a time of trying new things. 4th graders to 7th graders explore, may take photography classes or acting, start learning musical instruments, or build circuits and robots. They may be active in sports, enjoy curling up in a secret spot to read, or keep a journal. I taught 4th grade core classes for several years and then taught 6th-8th grade art and technology for several years and these kids were full of wonder. They had to try everything - it was fantastic. They are learning what school subjects fill them with curiosity - they may realize that they want to grow up to be a scientist, graphic designer, biologist. Try to show his or her interest in your sketch. Gardening, creating, science, music, sports, cooking, theater, ...
This is a really fun group so try some lean kids and some chunky kids so see the differences.
There won't be a new prompt over the weekend so for Saturday and Sunday, work on whichever age group you want to return to. Try turning your characters. Try sketching children from different countries. Add diversity to your sketchbook. Pay attention to glasses and braces. You could try drawing a character in a wheelchair or with crutches.
Post your characters on the Doodle Day group in Facebook and/or post them on your blog and share the link to your blog in the comments.
Have fun!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Character Challenge - Day 5: Noses and Ears

Day 5 - Noses and Ears
Welcome to Day 5 of the Character Challenge. So far, we have played with different shaped heads, created characters 2-4 years old, learned how eyes can change the emotion of a character, and worked on characters 5-8 years old. Below are links to the previous Cha-Cha posts:
The Nose:
Noses are fun to draw because they come in soo many different shapes and sizes. You can create anything from a tiny nose or a giant nose.
Small Nose
Large Nose
There are also angled pointy noses that are triangle shaped:

Here are several other nose shapes to try on your characters:

The Ears:

Since this is not a life drawing class and we are designing characters, don't go for anatomical accuracy on the ears. In my college classes, I was told that ears are between the eyes and nose and are this size and stick out this much and blah ditty blah blah. Our characters can have whatever kind of ears we want. Some boys have ears that stick out, some are flat against the head. Some girls have tiny ears, some are giant. Choose a size and shape of ear that compliments who your character is (this is why we were thinking about this stuff at the beginning, too).

There are a couple different aspects of ear design - the outside shape and the inside shape.

Christopher Hart demonstrates this page of examples of those differences:

Your female characters may be getting earrings as we get into older ages and these earrings also tell the viewer about your character. Is she wearing a tiny star or a giant dangle earing? Is there a skull or demon hanging off her ear or a rainbow?

Continue working on characters who are between Kindergarten and 3rd grade age but try some different noses and ears and see what you like.

Have fun!

Come back tomorrow for the prompt about our next age group.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Character Challenge - Day 4 - 5-8 year olds


Welcome to Cha-Cha! I hope you enjoyed drawing toddlers for the last couple of days. Starting today, we are working on 5-8 year olds. These Kindergarten to 3rd graders are taller, leaner and have lost most of the baby roundness to their features. They stand closer to 4 heads tall with most of the additional height in their legs. Their hands and fingers are more defined than the toddlers and you can now squeeze in that fifth finger without it looking too bulky. When they go to the doctor's office to get measured, their height and their weight might be the same. My son was a "square" for several years with those measurements being the same number.

Play with head shape, they still have big ears and big eyes. Play with hairstyles. Play with body position - sitting, standing, running, squatting. Think about the activities that engage a child in Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, or 3rd grade. They are doing everything from tying their shoe to writing to reading to playing group sports. You don't have to draw your characters doing any activities - thinking about them just gets your mind visualizing who you are creating.

What is your character wearing? Shorts, t-shirt, skirt with tights, button down? Is he or she bundled up for winter or ready for summer activities?

Who is she or he? Is she into science? Is he into reading? Does he or she like tennis? Chess? gymnastics? Soccer? Drawing? Try to show the character's interests in his or her stance or clothes somehow. Is she shy? Is he outgoing? Is he or she loud or quiet, pondering something or actively doing an activity? Is he chubby? Is she tall and lean? Remember to try a character with glasses or even braces.

Check out how this cartoonist draws children who are 5-8 years old: CLICK HERE.

Once you have figured out a character that looks close to what you are going for, try sketching the front view, side view, back view and if you are adventurous and have the time, try 3/4 front and/or 3/4 back view. For a great, great, great short video about rotating your character, CHECK THIS OUT by Renee Kurilla. (Click on her name to see more of her illustrations.) This three minute tutorial made a huge impact on my approach to creating characters. Animation is a wonderful way to work on character consistency.

I'm not posting more reference because I want you to come up with your own characters so think about this age and start sketching.

Come back tomorrow to see another post about facial features!

Have fun!


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Character Challenge - Day 3: All About Eyes

Day 3 - All About Eyes
This is day 3 of the Cha-Cha and so far we have worked on head shapes and sketched some 2-4 year old characters. When you are working on a character, the eyes are a super important feature to give attention to. It isn't just the shape of the eyes that has emotional impact for the viewer but also their location on the face. The eyes can be high, in the middle, or low. They can be giant or small. They can be set far apart or close together. We learned yesterday that eyes that are large and low on the face give the idea of youth but eyes that are centered, small, and far apart can also give the impression of youth.
Large oval shaped eyes that are open give a look of wonder while eyes that are asymmetrical present a quirky, funny expression.
If your character is being sneaky, make the eyes more narrow and darken the lower eyelids a bit.
If your character is goofy, tilt the ovals or egg shaped eyes toward each other at the top or push them close together.
Female eyes often have 2 or 3 eyelashes tilting up toward the outside of the face.
Here are 8 pages of cartoon eye reference for you. Try out some different eyes on your characters and don't forget to try a pair of glasses on your characters, too. For more eye reference, check out the thousands of pages of eyes on Google images. Keep working on toddlers today and check back here tomorrow for a new age group to play with.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Character Challenge - Day 2 - Tackling Toddlers

Day 2
Welcome to the ChaCha (pronounced Kah-Cha!) or if you want the full name: Character Challenge!

ChaCha began yesterday with trying out different shapes for heads. Viewers subconsciously associate emotions and ages with different shapes used for the head, body, and features of a character.

The first characters to work on are 2-4 years old. These small humans are known as Toddlers and they have big heads. When they get measured at the doctors office, the doc is looking for an almost equal measurement around the head and around the chest. Their legs and arms are short. Hands and feet are small though playing with the proportion of these features will add humor to a character. While an adult's arms with fingers outstretched can reach to or even past their mid thighs, a toddlers reach might just get to or past their hips. In looking at traditional drawing technique, while an adult is 7-8 heads tall, a toddler might only be 3-4 heads tall. For characters, these young ones are typically only 2 or 3 heads tall. Their hands and fingers are also different from older characters in that their fingers tend to be chubby and their palms less defined. Often these characters are only shown with a thumb and three fingers because the chubbiness is bulky when trying to squeeze in a fifth finger.

Circles usually work well for very young children because they tend to make a character look young, cute, or retro. Placing the eyes, nose, mouth, and ears low (but not looking down) also helps to make a character look young. Christopher Hart states that, "The lower you put the features on the circle, the cuter the character will be."

Look at some real toddlers (or check them out on Google images or Pinterest) and note that their eyes are large and their noses are small. Big eyes makes a character look full of wonder and gives you the chance to play with eye shapes and angles to make them expressive and give your little boy or girl emotion. Tomorrow's post will be All About Eyes.

Play with head shapes and trunk (body) shapes. Play with hairstyles for little ones - is her hair in pigtails? Is his hair spiky? Maybe he or she doesn't have much hair yet. A hairstyle can help a viewer understand the age of the character.

Does he or she have freckles? Play with posture, standing, sitting, running, leaning, bending.

Here are some reference pics for you...


 Have fun!
Share your Toddler Character doodles on the Facebook Group page for Doodle Day HERE.
Come back tomorrow to check out the post All About Eyes!