As a continuation of the Picture Book Dummy challenge (#PBDummy on Twitter) I’ve been blogging about the mechanics of each step along the way. Currently, the challenge is in the character development section. Normally, what I do is hunt down links to what other experienced artists have had to say. Sadly, aside from a smattering places, and fewer books than that, there isn’t much out there. My two blog posts (to the right) on the picture book dummy are actually among the top search results. And I have already said what I said, so linking to myself is downright silly.
One of the differences in creating a picture book illustration as opposed to single images is the need for sequential art. The characters in the story line need to be drawn multiple times, accurately and in many different poses. Facial emotion is a top priority in story telling through visual media.
With that in mind I hunted for information on comic and graphic novel art development. There was a tad bit more, but still rather slim pickings.
Names that came up were:
Tom Bancroft (Walt Diseny) Creating Characters with Personality
Will Eisner Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative, Comics and Sequential Art: Principles and Practices
and Scott McCloud Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art , Understanding Comics.
All of them are pillars in what they do (did) but beyond the basics, the media of children’s books and the comic book require a different type of art. Most dramatically, is the fact that most graphic novels and comics are done with the end reader as an adult in mind. Sexy, blond bombshells and mysterious, evil villains receive top billing there. Picture books, on the other hand, often feature young children, animals, or adult stand-ins with very childlike qualities. With Disney movies, the end viewer is the family, but animation requires a different skill set than a printed piece. What these people have to say about character design and visual story telling provide a strong foundation for any children’s book illustrator.
And with that said, I am off to my pencils and pads. I have a bunch of characters to bring to fruition for my challenge dummy. I’ll post something when the characters reveal themselves to me.