On My Mind

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

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!



  1. Thanks so much for the mention, Alison! This is a really great challenge (with a fun name too!) - I think many of us could use your character age description as a reminder to always get to "know" your character. All those little details make a huge difference!

  2. Wonderful info, Alison, and I really like the Animation-ish page. Thanks for sharing!!