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Keeping a Character Consistent

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Keeping a Character Consistent

So this is one of my biggest problems. I can come up with a character and draw him straight on, but when I try for a profile view he just doesn't keep the same characteristics. Same goes for when hes in semi-profile and what not. I am really looking for tips on how to improve this. Are there some guidelines I should keep in mind for this?
Anything would be great, thanks all.

Also on a side note, and to avoid creating another thread
What kind of pencils do you guys use? 2B, H?
I prefer H because I like to go over lines a lot, but is the a disadvantage when it comes to later stages like inking and whatnot?

You need to design in terms of hierarchal, 3 dimensional forms that you can turn in space. Problem solved.

Z
Z's picture

The only way you can solve this problem is to consistently draw with a bit of guidance from others. Just draw more, and you'll be better and making convincing characters from all angles.

--Z

The only way you can solve this problem is to consistently draw with a bit of guidance from others. Just draw more, and you'll be better and making convincing characters from all angles.

Thats like punching him in the stomach.

So this is one of my biggest problems. I can come up with a character and draw him straight on, but when I try for a profile view he just doesn't keep the same characteristics. Same goes for when hes in semi-profile and what not. I am really looking for tips on how to improve this. Are there some guidelines I should keep in mind for this?
Anything would be great, thanks all.

Also on a side note, and to avoid creating another thread
What kind of pencils do you guys use? 2B, H?
I prefer H because I like to go over lines a lot, but is the a disadvantage when it comes to later stages like inking and whatnot?

Okay, here's the trick:

Its all about proportions.

If your eyes are one size on one view they will be the same proportion ( but not necessarily the same shape) on another angled view, like a side-profile.
With that in mind, even the proportions in terms of the spaces between the parts that make up the character's design play a key role.
If the eyes are close together on the face-on view, they'll be close together on the 3/4 angle, and so on.

Using a simple "cross" grid-line on a face ( a centre-line and a interesecting eye-line) can help you place features on a face consistently. You map them out based on where they'd be visualized on the structure.

The structure is the other thing.

Really, when I design a character, I do a 3/4 angle first because that has both the face-on and profile angles combined.
That way I can map out the face-on view and the profile seperately, and then alter the structure on those views so they are appealing images in their own right.
A face-on view gives to height, and width, plus placement of features, but no depth. A 3/4 angle gives you a suggestion of depth, plus the other elements and a profile gives you the absolute depth value, but no sense of the width seen in the face-on view.
A rear view is redundant except for details on the rear side.

See, a lot of people think that the various views need to be mathematical projections from one view to another.
I disagree with that. As they are designs FIRST, they need to be appealing images FIRST and structure designs a close second.
The task here is to eyeball the features from one view to another, creating a appealing look in each view.
If the character has a thin hook nose in a profile, then the front and 3/4 angles need to provide that same kind of nose. As long as the suggestion of that hook nose reads clearly in the other views, the "how" in drawing it that way doesn't matter.
If a lock of hair falls to the side in the front and 3/4 angle, it MIGHT seemingly project in a awkward manner in the profile-in this case you CHEAT the design to make it more appealing--throwing that lock of hair to the rear in the profile to make for a better silhouette.
A really good example of a classic cheat is Mickey Mouse's ears-which defy physical placement for the sake of the "design". ( For this reason, only the 2D and CGI versions of Mickey--which employ the cheat--can be considered on-model. Any toys or the costume worn in Disneyland are technically OFF-model, because Mickey's ears "don't work that way"!)

Your ability to mentally visualize the structures in the drawing as they rotate in space will greatly help you.

The EASIEST way to develop this kind of skill is to study and draw from real objects. I suggest using well-sculpted toys or sculptures and then slowly work on your own characters. You can hold them in any attitude and study them as long as you need to.

What kind of pencils do you guys use? 2B, H?

Every aspiring cartoonist asks this, and here's the answer:

It doesn't matter.

Use whatever you like and what gives you the results you want. Try different types of pencils, from non-repro blues to reds to different lead grades.

I use whatever's on my desk that'll scan in as a line--either a HB or a Col-Erase 20045 Carmine Red--and since I'm scanning in as black and white, the colour makes no difference. Its strictly up to hand feel, line quality and reproduction.
Remember, if the under-drawing is full of crud, you can always clean-sheet it on a light-box

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

Yeah man I usually eyeball stuff.

Bravo, Ken and L Finston.... sorry, i'm still wanting to clap from watching the Oscars last night.

I totally agree with you guys... however, I want to mention this:

1) "You're not drawing lines, you're drawing shapes." I know L Finston already said this with his #2, but the terms and techniques always sounded so confusing and daunting to me.... until someone said it to me simply like that (not that what you said is confusing Finston! I just like it put that way). To quote Glen Keane, "Draw as if you are sculpting". Think of it this way, Grim... you're not drawing the character's head, you're drawing the shapes and volumes that make up the head.

2) Practice the techniques of drawing that will help you achieve what we're saying. On AWN somewhere, there are some free lessons from Glen Vilppu. Use those, or buy a Vilppu book. Oh, and stop drawing from your wrist. Draw from your shoulder.

3) Draw from life. Focus on quick sketch. Take a sketchbook to the mall, an airport, the zoo. Fill the sketchbook up. Don't worry about creating masterpieces (and don't complain that they're moving). Look at what you're drawing, draw loose and fast and get the gesture, the shapes and the proportions down on the page.

I know they're the basics, but... I'm a believer in the basics. They can't do anything but help your design.

Pencils? I don't think it matters. HB is fine. I'd use something softer for quick sketch and life drawing, though. I haven't crossed over to the red, like Ken said. I still use the non-photo blue. Old fashioned, i guess.

Follow @chaostoon on Twitter!

On the pencils, again:

The only reason I find myself using the red Col-Erase pencils is because they have the same hand-feel to the line (that slightly softer, waxy stroke) like the traditional blue Col-erase ( #1276) pencils, and they reproduce well to boot.
Its purely a psychological thing with me, because a similar soft grade of graphite pencil will achieve the same thing.
In fact, right now, I'm using a standard HB lead pencil, like the ones you can get in a box or baggie of 10-25 per at a stationary store like Staples or Office Depot. Maybe tomorrow I'll go back to the red, or maybe I'll go crazy and use a felt pen.........my moods dictate it most of the time.

I seldom use a lead holder anymore--because I think the wooden-sheathed pencils end up being stronger ( the leads don't snap as often), and I just LOVE the lil' nub of an eraser on the end of the ones I use.
Creature of habit, and all that.
I still use stubs of old Col-Erase blues that I have in my pencil boxes for blocking out complicated drawings, and I'll grab harder leads--up to a 3H or 4H when I'm doing comics art on bristol. But for storyboards, its usually just a good ol' HB--simply because its smoother and soft enough to put down a dark line that takes a good scan with my equipment.
Just for shits and giggles, I've even used green, brown and other coloured Prisma-colour pencils sometimes--again, because the scans are all black & white, the colour used doesn't matter. As long as the lines pick up, its all good.

My pencil tastes are ALWAYS changing--I used to have a few Tombow Blackwings-- years ago, and sometimes use a Staedtler.........or a cheapo HB I'll get at a dollar store. These days, I seem to like the Sanford Turquoise line of pencils alot--but the buggers don't have erasers on the end of 'em. Phooey!

Best damn pencils I've ever ound seem to be the ones that have someone's store or company name embossed on them--I swear. I have one from the Comicshop in Vancouver BC, and that HB pencil has a nice hard lead, thick wooden-sheathe( which makes them a comfortable and easy grab), sharpens well and to a solid point, and leaves a nice line.
But how often does a body come across something like that, eh?? LOL!

What's this all mean?

Artists, being a quirky lot, tend to get downright fussy and esoteric about their tools. And no two artists will swear by the exact same tools for the same reasons.

Again, use what ya got, what you can get and try anything and everything.
There is NO such thing as a "Magic Pencil"--though alot of folks thought those Blackwings came mighty close....--so judge for yourself what works best for you.

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

Z
Z's picture

By the way, I apologize for my abrupt post. I'm kinda impulsive, and make forum posts too quickly sometimes. I hope I didn't sound too rude.

As for the reasoning of my post...sure, I should have gave more specific advice, or said nothing at all. The reason I posted what I did, was because from personal experience...I found the only cure for most of my drawing problems came from constant practice. I can understand a-many complex theories related to drawing and animation, but application takes a whole lot more work.

But anyway, I'm sorry.

--Z

As for the reasoning of my post...sure, I should have gave more specific advice, or said nothing at all. The reason I posted what I did, was because from personal experience...I found the only cure for most of my drawing problems came from constant practice. I can understand a-many complex theories related to drawing and animation, but application takes a whole lot more work.

Practise is sound advice anytime, but practise what?

Its not the action per se, but the application within that action that'll yield results.

When I was teaching ( as if I've ever really stopped, oy!) I used to tell students that if some smartass like me comes along and decrees ( cue booming voice) "THOU SHALT DRAW ONLY HANDS, TO GET THINE SELF GOODETH AT DRAWING!!"--that as well intention as that advice is, its bullshit.
See.......the human brain will go " I'll draw this a hundred times and I'm good", but if its not INTERESTING to you, you'll stomach maybe doing it a dozen times before you give up at it.
Tell someone to forget everything they know and do it YOUR way might get temporary cooperation and drive, but ultimately their interest will wane because they have nothing invested in it. Without emotional relevancy, there's bound to be no continuity in performance.

That's indelibly human.

Yea, practise is the START of the idea, but focus on doing what you are good at ALREADY and expand upon it.

Good at drawing faces? Keep drawing them.
As you do more faces, add a few more parts of the body, maybe a shoulder/arm/hand. Even if it sucks, at least the face is a success.
That's the key here.
Cannot draw backgrounds to save your life? Draw the figure like you normally do, and maybe add a small background, a fence or a wall detail--something manageable. Keep it simple.
Crawl, before you walk--before you run.
Draw what you know, and add small chunks to what you know, and build upon that.

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

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