On My Mind

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

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!


  1. Great post, Alison! I wish I could draw :)

    1. Susanna, everyone can draw. Drawing is in the eyes not the arm. These are doodles - be brave. : )