Life Drawing: Character Design

For the final assignment of life drawing, we had to design a character. Luckily I had one sitting around that I wanted to improve a little bit, so I chose to subject my character Pepper to a little design update.

I first created Pepper last December quite by accident. I was trying to finish a painting for portfolio, and while putting on the final touches, I wound up giving him a backstory and a place in my current webcomic idea.


I loved his innocent look and the colors I chose, and I’ve been working on him ever since.

I started first by very quickly sketching out an extremely basic pose that showed off the color more than the actual design itself.


This was when Mike had us start drawing our characters in class, and I found that while I really loved Pepper’s outfit, it was insanely hard to work with. His massive sweater obscured most of his body, so it was difficult for me to draw any convincing poses. This led to some pretty atrocious attempts to work some action in,

After class, I went to Mike for some advice, and he told me that while the character looked very appealing-bearing sort of a Ferngully style-I seemed unsure of the design, and that I needed to develop a better idea of what I wanted the final appearance to be.

So unfortunately it was kind of back to the drawing board. I did actually take a bit of time to check out the Ferngully style. I only every saw the movie once in my life, so I didn’t remember a lot of how the characters appeared. To my surprise, I’ve found my style is actually sort of really similar. I have very mixed feelings about this.

When comparing Pepper to the Ferngully Fairies, I noticed there was a distinct similarity in the eyes and mouth. Both these features were enlarged to give a friendlier, kinker appearance. I think by studying Krysta’s face, I managed to get a better handle on Pepper’s features. They were also a point of frustration that I had.

Also considering that Pepper is a fairy as well looking at this cartoon style helped me design a better silhouette, a better outfit, and in general helped me figure out how to actually draw me character.

First I started by doing a 3/4 turn, and a front facing view of Pepper in his new outfit and slightly fixed features.



When compared to his  original design, this one works out a lot better if I were to animate it. There’s less unnecessary fabric to prevent viewers from seeing what he’s doing, the new outfit allows room for Anticipation in his movements and exaggeration, and the bulkiness in the boots and socks add a weight to the character that I think will allow some nice squash and stretch once I test a few shots of him. I also feel that Pepper’s face is a little better proportioned as well.


Once I’d gotten a feel for how he looked, it was time to apply some principles of animation. Mike wanted us to do four, so I chose Appeal, Pose to Pose, Staging, and Exaggeration. I chose these four because when it comes to Pepper’s character, he’s an incredibly energetic character with lots of bright colors to draw the eye.

Appeal: The Appeal of the character reflects the charisma and attitude of the character. It’s important that they stand out to the audience and keep the attention.

Exaggeration: With Pepper’s round, wide eyed face and lanky build, he’s able to be extremely expressive in his emotions and movements.

Pose to Pose: This was good practice to help express Pepper’s attitude.

Staging: This was a quick experiment to test color and posing. The first image is an example of that, as the eye is directed by the light and pose to Pepper’s bright face



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