What a Character!

Cover art for the comic book Maddy Kettle by Eric Orchard

Eric Orchard’s illustrations are absolutely brilliant. There are some artists who are able to capture the essence of a character so fully it awes me. Wowzer! When I see illustrations such as these, it makes me stop and think about my own character sketches. While I do my character sketches through writing, I think that either method is a great way to spur one’s imagination and get that creative spark ignited.

While I enjoy having my character’s surprise me as I’m writing by doing things I didn’t think of (sounds weird, but if you’re a writer you know what I mean), I also don’t want to write anything that’s completely out of character either. So if I sketch – or writer – some basic physical, emotional, mental, etc. traits for my characters I have a better idea of what situations to put them out and how they’ll interact and react to the people and conflicts within those situations. I’m a really visual person and if it didn’t take me a long time to draw my characters I would literally sketch them all out to refer to as I write. Since that typically doesn’t work for me I write all those attributes down instead – green eyes, black hair, scar over left eye, etc. as well as non-physical traits – short fuse but champion for the weak, strong willed, close relationship to brother, etc. That way when I sit down to write I have all my notes to refer to, although I rely on them less and less as I get deeper into the story.

  1. Character-sketching — visual or written — is indeed a treat! Getting to know the characters is one of best parts of my writing process, and I like honoring some of my favorites with lots of portraits. Unsurprisingly (to fellow fiction writers, anyway) some of these characters enjoy seeing their faces over and over in my sketchbooks more than others. 😉

  2. My attempts to draw pictures of my characters have never turned out well, but sketching out a description in words is something I can totally handle. I agree the further you get into a story the less you need to refer back to that sketch.

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