Drawing Book Characters: The Artist’s View09:00
As well as working out their characters’ backstories, many writers like to have a picture of them as well so that they can visualise them better. Some find photos and some very talented folk draw pictures themselves. I’ve always found it difficult to find photos of people who look like my characters. One picture might have the right hair; one might have the right nose, but very rarely are they exactly right. If I had enough artistic talent for drawing people, I would draw my characters, but alas I can’t.
I am very lucky however, to have a sister who is very good at drawing, and who is also very interested in my writing. My sister Charlotte has drawn me pictures of all my main characters for my series of superhero fairy tale retellings, as well as designing eight individual covers. I love having pictures of my characters, and I’ve really enjoyed working with her to make the pictures match what’s in my imagination. But what is it like to be the person drawing the pictures? Charlotte kindly agreed to answer some questions about this.
What do you need to know to be able to draw pictures of characters?
For Imogen’s characters, I discussed them in detail with her, she found me a reference picture and if I had any questions about them, I was able to ask her for help. I found that this method really worked for me. I knew something about each character, had a very clear idea of what they were supposed to look like and could consult Imogen if I wasn’t sure about something.
What is the best part about drawing other peoples’ characters?
I think the best part of drawing someone else’s characters has to be seeing their faces when you’ve finished the picture and given it to them. I never quite know until I’ve shown Imogen the finished picture whether it is exactly what she wanted, whether this picture shows her vision of her character.
What is the most challenging thing about drawing other peoples’ characters?
Remembering to draw someone’s character how they want it to look instead of getting carried away with my own ideas can be a little challenging. I’m lucky that Imogen trusts me to draw her pictures without much supervision. If I have an idea then she lets me try it out instead of making me stick to her own ideas.
Which is your favourite character you’ve drawn so far?
It’s really hard for me to decide who is my favourite character. I love them all so much. But I guess that if I had to choose one character, I’d choose Aaron. I love his superpower: Super-strong, super-big and super-hairy. Also he’s ginger. He’s so unique and I loved the challenge of drawing all the fur and somehow making him both human and beast at the same time.
What is one piece of advice you’d give to other artists?
If you’re working on the computer like I do, save your picture very frequently. While I was drawing Imogen’s villain, I put in hours of work on the picture and had just got it ready to colour, when Gimp crashed and I lost the entire picture. I had to start the picture again from scratch. You’d have thought I would have learnt from that experience, but I did the exact same thing with another picture not long afterwards. So save your picture often and save yourself the frustration of losing entire pictures.
Have you ever had anyone draw your characters for you? Are you one of those talented people who draw their own pictures? Any questions for Charlotte?