One of my favorite parts of the writing process is getting to know my characters inside and out. I want to know each and every detail about who they are, where they come from, and what their life has been. I’m fascinated by the writer’s ability to create people out of nothing. They reach a level of realism in which not only you, but others care about them as well. An important part of achieving this level of detail is knowing what your characters look like. Some writers prefer to model their characters after celebrities or people they know. I, on the other hand, rarely find someone who looks just like how I imagine the character in my head. This leads me to today’s topic. It’s time to put down the character sketches and start sketching your characters.
Don’t freak out! I’m no artist either. A few of my pictures surprised me, and I’ll share a two of my better ones in a bit. However, most of them are never going to be seen by another human being. My method does not involve high-end shading and realism. In fact, most of the time, I don’t even use color. I usually see my characters as animated and draw them as such. I find that this is much easier than creating realistic drawings of faces and bodies. There are certain physical traits that are characteristic of people in my book. In my drawings, I exaggerate those traits. If you take a look at Paxton down below, you can see how long and skinny his legs are. This would never be physically feasible, but those characteristics are something I instantly see when I think of him. He’s a quiet, nerdy, and lanky man, and that’s what I wanted to capture.
I have other quirks with my drawings as well. For example, I can’t draw hands, so a lot of my characters have their arms behind their backs or have no hands in the sketches at all. All of this is ok. More than likely you will be the only person who ever sees these images. The ultimate goal is not to create great art (although if you are capable of that, it would be very cool!). The goal is to get to know your characters better and have a visual to return to. Having this visual will aid in consistency with physical descriptions. Additionally, I find that when I am struggling to find motivation to write, I can look at those pictures and see my characters looking back at me. I feel an obligation to my characters to tell their story. I absolutely love my characters. It sounds strange to people who aren’t writers, but our characters are some of our best friends. I feel an immense duty to these people to share their story. Having a visual of those people looking at me reminds me of that.
Here are a couple of pictures that I drew (I’m sorry about my terrible camera quality! They are kinda blurry and small.). As you already know, Paxton is the tall lanky man. He’s not a major character. Paxton works in the government of the world I’ve created, he is a financial advisor. Kiah, the young girl you see, is my protagonist. She is a rough and tuff kid who loves dirt and who loves dressing up too. She always wears a cape, which you can see in the picture. Her hair is unkempt, she’s got freckles across her cheeks, and a gap is nestled between her two front teeth. All of this you can see from the image, but what I’m also able to see her age, her positivity, and her excitement. If you try sketching your characters, share them with us! I’d love to hear about your experience and see the results.