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!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

NEW Character Challenge!

Welcome to the kick off for the Character Challenge! I am hosting this challenge as a tag on to Doodle Day with the theme of the doodle posts being characters - human characters. Remember, these are still doodles so don't spend a lot of time trying to turn them into portfolio pieces, the idea is to spend some time figuring out how to make a 2 year old boy look like a toddler and not like a 7 year old or a 9 year old girl look like a 4th grader and not like a Kindergartener or a Middle School student. There are subtle differences to show in your character design that will help a character look the right age for the story that he or she is connected to.

Here's how the challenge will work -

On Monday (tomorrow), Wednesday, and Friday of this week and next week, I will post the character prompt for a specific age group (which I will share here) along with tips on how to create characters that look that age. On Tuesdays and Thursdays - I will post other tips for character design (eyes, noses, mouths, body shapes, ...) but these are not additional prompts. You will get 2 days to work on each age group and then on Sundays, you can work on whatever characters you want or take a day off. Below is the list of prompts and the days they will be posted. Now that you see this list, you theoretically don't need to return here but I will post about each age group and share tips from well known character designers about how to create characters who are specific to this age. Keep your drawings loose and try not to get hung up on any one design. Create a page or more of loose sketches of characters while giving attention to the details of body shape and proportion that will make him or her look that age.

Monday, Sept 9: 2-4 year olds
Wednesday, Sept 11: 5-8 year olds
Friday, Sept 13: 9-12 year olds
Monday, Sept 16: 13-17 year olds
Wednesday, Sept 18: 18-25 year olds
Friday, Sept 20: 26-40 year olds

For today's doodle exercise, think about and sketch some head shapes. Yes, you can make a bunch of circles but think outside the circle and look at the people in the grocery store, on TV, in your own house. Not everyone's head is circular - draw some ovals, draw some squares, draw some eggs. Christopher heart has the page (shown below) at the start of his HUMUNGOUS BOOK OF CARTOONING. Notice that he points out 9 different head shapes. In the following pages of his book, he explains that stocky characters are shown with no neck, evil characters have a light bulb shaped head with the narrow side being the mouth and chin (go ahead, try to doodle something cute with a light bulb shaped head).

For today, all I am asking you to do is play with shapes for heads - round, narrow, oval, square, light bulb, etc...

Here is the page from Christopher Hart's HUMUNGOUS BOOK OF CARTOONING:

After playing with different shapes for heads, you can add some sketch guildelines for placement of the facial features. Don't worry about he features yet. The placement of these lines will make your character's head look three dimensional. The center lines helps give reference for where the nose will be. The horizontal line can be placed low or high depending on where your character is looking. Many characters in picture books, comics, and cartoons look flat (on purpose) so if you want your characters to look flat - don't worry about these lines.

When you are done sketching - you are welcome to post your doodles on the Doodle Day page on Facebook. If you haven't joined it yet - go ahead and join! There are over a hundred doodlers there already. Not on Facebook? No problem! If you want to share your character doodles (which you don't have to do), go ahead and post them on your own blog and share the link in the comments on this blog.
Have fun!
Don't forget to tell friends about this challenge!