Saturday, August 10, 2013

Adding Personality and Expression to a Character

I love posting work-in-progress pics on my blog to show the process of how I work and how an illustration takes shape. Today I would like to post a mini-tutorial about drawing the face and how small tweaks to the illustration can add personality and expression to a character.

The example I'm using is my most recent illustration Manic Cure. When starting to draw a new illustration I always begin with the eyes and the face, because it's one of the first things that the viewer will look at as the eyes are naturally drawn to look at another pair of eyes.

The first attempt at drawing the face, I wasn't quite happy with the facial expression. It looked very serene and angelic and I had envisioned the character as a sort of femme fatale, mysterious being with multiple arms.

Without starting over from the beginning, I made a few tiny adjustments to the face which changed her expression from being sweet to someone a bit more cocky and mysterious. I raised one eyebrow, narrowed the eyes and turned one side of the mouth into a smirk. Very small changes which added some spark into her character.

My Billie Joe illustration is another example of how to add expression into a character. Just by looking at the angle of the eyebrows, the shadows and wrinkles around the eyes you can inject some life into an illustration and make a more compelling image.

Draw a bunch of different mouths and see how dramatically they can change the look of an illustration. They don't need to be over-the-top to show emotion, the human face is capable of showing hundreds of emotions with the most subtle changes in expression.

So in summary, to add some personality and expression to a character think about:
  • Eyebrows: are they raised (surprised), furrowed (angry), or is one eyebrow raised (cocky)?
  • Eyes: are they big and sweet, do they sparkle or are they narrow and mysterious?
  • Lips: are they smiling secretly like the Mona Lisa, smirking or showing some teeth?
  • Wrinkles: the signs of life on a person's face and a great way to show character.

The great thing about working with vector illustrations is that you can go back and make tiny adjustments. How do you like to show personality in an illustration?
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