View Full Version : Maladies character sketches

05 May 2006, 01:02 PM
Hello everybody!:)

I've decided to start, along with my practice thread, a separate thread for character sketches. I want to learn all sorts of techniques, but next to that I really want to learn how to develop my own characters. I'm searching for ways to express myself in that field, both technically and stylewise. Still very much in the beginning stages, so be kind:).

The sketches in here are meant to be quick practice pieces. For me it's more a matter of doing a lot and experimenting than going into separate pieces very deeply. However that may change when (if:)) I get better. I hope to get your support, tips and crits to improve. Every sort of comment will be helpful to me (apart from 'you suck':)).

Here are some pieces I've done, the most recent on top:

05 May 2006, 02:02 PM
Ah, a brand new progress thread. Hopefully one day when there are twenty pages you can look back at the this page and the difference will strike you.
Right now most of the pictures here are lacking much contrast, they are a little flat. Don't want to have to start on such a bad note, though, sorry.
On a much better note I can say for certain that the Egyptian queen picture is the best so far because it has a lot of depth.
This is still the beginning of what will surely be a fruitful time for you in developing your style like you said.
Keep up the hard work! :thumbsup:

05 May 2006, 05:57 PM
owch, that hurt...but you're very right. I was just scribling away with them but I just don't have the skills yet to pull of a more stylized work. So I just had a great idea. I'm going to do a lot of the images in greyscale and give them depth. Thanks!

05 May 2006, 12:40 AM
An attempt to make a greyscale for the lemming-marsupilami creature. Definately very insightful, but hard, I might want to practice this more with ref.

05 May 2006, 04:29 AM
owch, that hurt

So sorry, I can be such a bastard a lot of the time. But I'm glad you took it well and got some ideas out of it. I'll try to be nicer next time :)!

05 May 2006, 12:23 PM
Aww the little squirrel fellow is so cute!

About crits: I know they can feel hurtful sometimes - but in all honesty, its the only way we can learn. Sometimes we are just not the best people to critque our own stuff. We need fresh eyes to see... and to be perfectly honest -- if they see it 'wrong' then that is truly our fault as the artist. We are trying to portray a vision we see and translate that to the viewer for s/he to experience it -- if they are commenting about it in a totally different way than WE inteded as the artist, then we have to own up to that and admit that we did something along the way that didn't translate well for the viewer.

As far as technical crits, those are even harder to take sometimes... but try to be objective. People here are so busy doing their own thing and wanting their own crits - that anyone who actually takes the time to stop what they are doing and give a crit is actually being quite helpful. It's hard to hear we don't handle something well --- but we're just learning!! You have to crawl to be able to walk - and you have to be able to walk steady before you can run... then you have to train and train your body well to run fast and/or long. Think of it in those terms. I know for damn sure I'm barely crawling. But hey, at least we're moving in the right direction :)


05 May 2006, 02:10 PM
Maladie, I checked your other thread and it seems like you've improved by leaps and bounds. You should be proud of yourself :) There are certain things you could improve upon of course, but it's just a matter of practice. I won't talk about anatomy since I'm not very good at it myself:P
About the monochromes, it's really easy to fix. Just use low opacity in the brush and paint away, it's amazing how much life a little bit of red and green can add to the skin :) Something I learnt from Linda Bergkvist is about using cyan for highlights on the skin, it really helps the fleshtones. But these are things you learn as you go along. Just keep painting ;)

LabyrinthineMind, that was very nicely said :)

05 May 2006, 03:33 PM
Hiiri and Laby, thanks for the support! And pap87, it's totally cool. I took the advice at heart to give things more depth = more greyscale work. I did this squirrel from a ref, want to use what I've learnt as a base to improve my lemsupilami:). I realise now it's way better for me to practice from refs first. To keep it interesting however, I'm going to try to apply that practice to my own pieces. I'll just use refs for them all the time. This took about 30 min.

05 May 2006, 07:38 PM
^^^ Amazing!!! Wonderful job Maladie :)

05 May 2006, 10:02 PM
Animals are fun!!:) *claps hands like little kid*

Sorry guys, I know these aren't exactly character sketches, but I thought it made more sense if I studied one subject thoroughly, then make my own creation, instead of scribbling away like before, having an idea but not capable to visualize it yet. So. Rodents it is!

This was done in about 15 minutes.

05 May 2006, 10:14 PM
:thumbsup::thumbsup: Keep it up!! :)

05 May 2006, 05:30 AM
Yay for rodents :D The last one looks like it is sneaking up towards something, cute!

05 May 2006, 06:57 AM
That grey squirrel looks really good!
How come one of the pictures has disappeared, is it because of the nudity?
Anyhow, you've already improved greatly! :thumbsup:
Keep it up!

05 May 2006, 09:25 PM
More study material. This is the head of a wild boar. I want to use this type of headshape for my critter. Plus wild background thrown in free:).

05 May 2006, 10:51 PM
Probably too early but I couldn't resist a little creation of my own. I'm quite happy with it actually:). I might keep it at this or develop it more. Depends if I'm still happy tomorrow:). Any crits or comments would be really appreciated!

PS. Would particularly appreciate crits on the pose and the character.
PPS. He's playing chess against himself, I imagine.:)

05 May 2006, 10:51 PM
Maladie you're doing awesome! Keep it up!

05 May 2006, 02:37 PM
Lol, at the last pic. I really like the dopy expression on it's face. Will be interesting to see that one coloured.

05 May 2006, 10:01 PM
Thanks guys! Funny how the things I like the best get the least replies (so not a lot of people must like it then). Probably because they're not very technical or realistic. I'm excited about the mood I created but that's ofcourse hard to comment on.

Anyway it doesn't matter as long as I like it, it'd just be nice to get some help with these less realistic things too, but like I said, I understand that's a lot to ask.

I'm still gonna bother you with a comp tonight;).

PS. I'm just thinking aloud, it's absolutely not meant to be bitter or something, just reassuring myself:).

05 May 2006, 12:19 AM
maladie - that's gorgeous! in a way, I almost want that to be the final image, it's so fresh and uncluttered. I hope you don't lose this simplicity and vividness during the next stages. Comp-wise, tis good - your angles really bring the eye down to the character. You might do so even more, using shapes of leaves etc. Nice going :D

05 May 2006, 01:57 AM
Maladie!!! That last one is incredible! And we couldn't reply because CGSociety was down :(

I love love love the little rat playing chess :) He's awesome!

05 May 2006, 02:16 AM
birlliant maladie, simply birlliant

05 May 2006, 08:52 AM
*beams* happy again!:blush:

Great tip audit, last night after I posted it I thought exactly the same thing. I just have to be careful not to overwork it. Only other steps will be refining the chess table and making it smaller to make it look a bit more clumsy - applying a subtle blue on the shadows (experimentally) and a veeery light color on the character - refining the trees just a little bit maybe.

If anyone can think of other stuff, feel free to say so!

05 May 2006, 12:55 PM
I left this alone for a bit, but today I came back to it and finished it. Minor changes really. I still like it:).

So...does anyone see any points for improvement (ofcourse many, but in regard to my skill:))?
And if it's finished, it's not really good enough for the finished gallery...or is it? I never posted anything there, but this is the first thing, with all the flaws it might still have, that I really like.

I'm so excited!

Hope you guys can give me some feedback. Thanks for all the reactions already, I so appreciate it.:bounce:

05 May 2006, 01:27 PM
Maladie, I say post it. It's adorable :) Besides, you will get more views there and different sorts of feedback. It might be a little rougher than here, but crits of all kinds help - even the ones difficult to hear. See what people have to say, it really can't hurt -- besides, this little guy is cute as a button. :D

05 May 2006, 01:30 PM
I can't tell you what skill to practice. But this fellah really is funny! :) I have one problem when viewing it though, the two scribbles in the emptys space just above the main character are telling me something needs to be where but you have no idea what. Maybe if you changed the gradient to a more contrasting on it would solve itself. Use the negative space, how zen... Good stuff!!

05 May 2006, 01:36 PM
Oooh ok, JM is right I think about the gradient being more contrasted - that would make it pop. Good eyes, JM!

05 May 2006, 02:29 PM
JM - the scribbles were meant to indicate leaves to pull the eye down more. If I understand you correctly, they aren't working. I might get rid of them, I wasn't fond of them either. Gradient: you want it darker so it contrasts more with the light sky? Or do you want more dark at the bottom, light on top?

Enlighten me, oh great master of gray women:).

05 May 2006, 06:19 PM
So be it! :wise:

Darker, and possibly very dark as to enclose the mouse, you could airbrush a lighter patch where he is sitting to give a sense of depth possibly.

Nooow, make me some magic! :)

05 May 2006, 08:34 AM
Last version of this for now. Don't dare to post it in finished, though. Compared to the artwork there it's very simplistic. Currently working on giraffe on barstool:), will post when farther rendered. Talking very telegram-stylish. No idea why. Over.

05 May 2006, 09:00 AM
Currently working on giraffe on barstool lol...:scream:

05 May 2006, 10:25 AM
A very early first version plus close-up.

05 May 2006, 12:57 PM
LOL!! Hahahaha. That is hilarious. And quite well done too.
You've definitely got the hang of it now.
Don't stop please!:bounce:

05 May 2006, 03:12 PM
Hey, thanks pap87! I worked on this all afternoon:). I had fun making the pearl necklace (out of 35 copies of a value-study pearl). The rest of the time I spent refining and trying to make the fur more interesting and like fur. Also changed the colors somewhat.

Would love suggestions for the comp or details that I can add. For one, I'm gonna give her an oldfashioned cigarette holder...sexyyyyy!:)

05 May 2006, 03:43 PM
Maladie I love it! Her pose, colours, expression, everything rocks!

Remember, there should be a bit of that lovely yellow light on the pearls too :) How about giving her those long arm-gloves? hehe.

05 May 2006, 03:47 PM
This so reminds me of Dr. Seuss :D

I love your character/creature design, so cute!

05 May 2006, 10:50 PM
Thanks, Laby! And hiiri too, praise from you means a lot to me because I really like your work as well:). I think I finished it - or almost at least. Adjusted the backlight, cleaned up the shadows and the pearls, and gave her a cigarette holder. The gloves were too much though, I was happy with it at this stage.

Let me know what you think!

05 May 2006, 03:30 AM
Freakin adorable, that's all I can say. Love the pearls too

05 May 2006, 07:25 PM
Any other crits or comments guys?...

05 May 2006, 01:35 AM
No crit - just want to say how truly fantastic I find this. You have portrayed so much wit and personality in her, and created a wonderfully loveable character in the process. :)

05 May 2006, 09:51 PM
Whew, thanks!!:blush: Good news about it, too: I showed my last two character sketches to an artist friend of mine who is very much involved in the internet. He thought they were very original and he's going to broadcast them on his ezine, which is especially for (professional)illustrators and cartoonists!

I'm so happy, because I was getting a little insecure about it - I don't know if you recognize: you think it's great, then look back and...hmmm, maybe not so great - but I really respect this guys opinion and it's a feeling of total euphoria to hear he likes my work:)! This was also the first time I showed my work to somebody 'outside'. It's good to come out with it; I know it's not that great yet but this is really my passion and it's great to get acknowledged for it by 'the world':)...and I'm so determined now to get better and better!

Not much happening for the rest. I've been ill for a week or so, and couldn't do much painting. Tonight I worked on values. Gorillas are my all-time-favourite animals:). I'm brooding on a new concept and will put something up asap. Good night everyone!

PS. This is a WIP ofcourse, it needs more work..

05 May 2006, 02:10 PM
I was getting a little insecure about it - I don't know if you recognize: you think it's great, then look back and...hmmm, maybe not so great -

I know exactly what you mean. It hurts but it only makes you excel further than you would have thought you could.
Excellent start on the gorilla. Are you going to make it comical like the giraffe?
Looking forward to more updates.:thumbsup:

05 May 2006, 02:31 PM
looks very good !:)
"aparte style erg netjes"

05 May 2006, 04:33 PM
It hurts but it only makes you excel further than you would have thought you could.

That is the honest truth. Crits hurt, but they really do help you see better -- and remember, you can always, always, toss them out if you think they are bogus, or the person giving the crit is just being a booger (which happens more than you think).

I LOVE that Gorilla Maladie, omg, please finish that!

and OMG!! HUGE congrats on your work getting shown!!! That's /great/ news!

06 June 2006, 04:35 PM
Hi guys, I've still not much to show for myself, but I wanted to let you in on the process for the next piece.

This is going to be a slightly bigger thing, which I hope I'll not be put off of by it's scale:). The only thing I had, to begin with, was this image I saw in my mind of a fox sitting in its office, with sheep skulls hanging on the wall. I liked that, so I started from there.

I've actually been comping for this. I hadn't done that since my initial comping experience, when I first started here on CGtalk, turned out to be totally discouraging. However I might have progressed a little, because now I feel ready to give it a try and put my characters in an environment. I made little thumbnails for this one and came up with a big pane window.

In the background is going to be a landscape. It's a sort of coastline now, for nice lines, but I would like it to be weird plants or something. Working title: 'It's a jungle out there'.:)

I would like it to be comical and disturbing. Aiming for depth as with the giraffe, but I'm also going to try different brushes and styles, from crayon-like to pretty detailed (but still not aiming for 'real').

This is just a quick sketch to show you the comp:

As always, c&c appreciated, especially about the comp:).

06 June 2006, 04:56 PM
hi. i would say you need to adjust some of your perspective before going on. Most obviously, the line of skulls (assuming they're all at the same height level) should run towards the horizon, not away (ie. down not up). This will align their perspective with that of the desk, which is the most prominent foreshortened element. You've put in the horizon line, which is good as it means you can gauge the perspective accurately: fix the vanishing point on the horizon line, and radiate lines outward from this origin. The desk, sheep's heads, wall and fox will all have just that one VP.

You could also usefully reassess the scale-factor of the skulls, it seems to me that they're receding (diminishing in size) too quickly, contradicting the perspective of the desk element; again, perspective lines will sort this out for you. I was also wondering if you've set the point of view slightly too high, I feel the image plane is a little crowded with elements, and lowering the PoV to add some negative space in that upper left corner may help.

Anyway it's a complex composition you've picked here, so good luck!

06 June 2006, 05:01 PM
Thanks, these are very useful tips!! Yeah, I know I'm setting the bar high, but for once I'm just going to work on this comp till it looks right, I just need to push myself or my figures will be floating in space forever.

PS. On the horizon, though: his office is on a high floor, so the viewing point is looking down through the window a bit. We look upon the lansdcape. So the skulls shouldn't be aligned with that or they would be aimed toward a too low vanishing point. Right? Or is the horizon always the vanishing point, necessarily? Hhmmpf, complicated!

06 June 2006, 05:06 PM
np. you've got the right attitude, maladie - i don't want to imagine all your characters floating in space forever, poor things! Plus if you're working in photoshop it'll be easy to use all those convenient transform tools to rejig the elements until you're happy. look forward to your progress :)

06 June 2006, 05:08 PM
Okay, I'll just go by instinct, make a raster and adjust everything till it looks 'right'.

(good I'm not your neighborhood carpenter with this approach)

06 June 2006, 09:12 PM
A little bit at a loss with this. I shouldn't have aimed for something this difficult I guess, because I lost all the flow I had going on with the giraffe. I keep wanting things I can't get! (yet)


I'm going to start coloring now, I've had it with rasters and comps. Blegh!

06 June 2006, 03:09 AM
I know what you mean about composition and perspective. I think I've actually been steering clear of those. lolz. Nice work on the girraffe and gorrilla. This wolf has been stealing a lot of lambs. I'm curious how you're going to go at this. :)

06 June 2006, 01:43 PM
I'm totally depressed. I'm showing this not to show my progress but my utter despair. It's now clear this is too difficult for me. I just don't know anything about perspective.

I will stop working on this and start again on something less complicated. Right now I hate painting altogether which isn't good.
I'm not showing it to be made fun of, so please don't (it's too easy):) Just to put a big fat line under it and after that forget about it altogether. Bleeghh!

06 June 2006, 02:01 PM
Maladie!!! *HUGS* It's ok, perspective is the HARDEST thing to master, right after proportion. It's ok. Everyone struggles with it. But there are a couple rules which will help immensely in this regard. I did a really sketchy crap example, but this is the best I can explain it.

Also, know that I didn't do this to embarass you - I wouldn't ever stop to do this for anyone else, but Maladie, you're special, because you're so damn sweet. I'm just trying to help.

Your horizon line in red - all your buildings parallel lines go off into the distance, but there is a distinct difference that is making the perspective wonky -- they need to intersect at the vanishing point (horizon line)

Here is a really sloppy attempt at an example of what I'm talking about with the parallel lines vanishing in the horizon line.

This is how I understand it -- if better people know how to explain it better or if I screwed it up, please let us know! :)

06 June 2006, 02:26 PM
Awww thanks, I feel better already! Also these lines help me a lot. The only thing I'm wondering about: can the city outside have a different vanishing point than the desk and skulls? Otherwise it would get so crowded (or is that just my misunderstanding?)...

06 June 2006, 02:43 PM
Just as long as they all match up at the horizon line, I believe you can have as many Vanishing Points as you like -- just make sure they intersect at the horizon and you should be ok.

But like I said, I'm a total n00b and I could be wrong -- but I THINK I'm right.

Here is a better (, more technical explanation - it almost looks like Math o.O

06 June 2006, 06:59 PM
maladie, don't be disheartened..!

like runecaster said, perspective is one of the most technically challenging aspects of drawing. for now it would help to simplify everything i.e. forget about putting in eye sockets or castellations for now. I also think you have approached the town slightly incorrectly. as runecaster pointed out you need vanishing points (at the moment it looks isometric) to put the buildings into perspective. another thing is that buildings will each have their own vanishing points relative to each other. They will only have the same VP if they are parallel in space. this might help to show you -

the buildings i chose are clearly not parallel! the VPs represent the buildings' spacial orientation; the further to the left the VP lies, the more the side plane of the building is parallel to the viewer, rather than perpendicular. also, because of the fairly high point of view, each will have a nadir where the verticals converge, but they're so far below they would probably take up the whole of this page, so i didn't add them.

perspective with buildings is always a pain...particularly when doing bird's eye shots where many are shown at once...obviously the best thing is to simplify: there's no way one could reproduce this photo, for example, without a lot of structure lines or a 3D programme :D

wish i had more advice for you...thing is, i'm still a beginner too. keep pounding at it - just don't try to render every architectural feature or you'll go mad :argh:

06 June 2006, 09:30 PM
Everybody thanks so much for the help, it really made me feel better. However I decided to put 'perspective' back on the shelf for a little bit. It just made me too depressed and disheartened.

I started on this today to get back into a flow a little bit. I tried to experiment with the 'skintones' and wasn't aiming for realism, I distorted the facial planes on purpose. I like it and shall call it 'sad monk'. Enjoy (I shout very optimistically)!

PS. I didn't use a ref because I didn't want to do anything I could fail at today:)

06 June 2006, 12:08 PM
'He he', I'd say in Dutch (which would translate as 'finally!'). I'm back on track!

My perspective-adventure totally blew me off. Thanks to a lot of encouragement here and a few carefree days in the sun, I feel I'm back in touch with the part of me that thinks this is fun:).
It's strange how you can lead yourself offtrack if you do something you feel you 'have to' but don't really feel love for.

This is the very early stage of a next little painting I want to make. It's a female dragonish creature laying in a field (she's not dead:)!). The red things are placeholders for wild roses.
The colors are probably a mess because I have a lot of light shining on my monitor today.
I'll get back to this at night.
As always, all help and/or comments appreciated.

PS. I didn't shade her, but that will come ofcourse.

06 June 2006, 12:10 PM
And I thought they were her brains sprawled on the ground! I didn't figure you were the psychotic type anyway, hehe.

Waiting to see where you will take this one.

06 June 2006, 12:38 PM
Well, her hair does look like brains in this light...:)

I might make it the color of her body with just red ends. My boyfriend also thought she had fallen from the sky. It's a concept that I do like, because I'm always for a twist and, in spite of my 'pretty' animal-characters, not the 'cuddly-cute' type. Cute and weird/cruel make an interesting contrast.

Anyway, I'll see where it goes and how I can get it to read better.

06 June 2006, 04:08 PM
Unfortunately I don't have PS at my parents, so I couldn't work on my picture. Until...I had the luminous idea of actually working in pencil (you know, on an actual sheet of paper:)).

I worked farther with this character, put him/her in a couple of poses and surroundings. This is the drawing I like best so far. I want to make a 'nighthawk'-like atmosphere. It's definately a him now. I wanted the bar to have human proportions, not sure if it works.

06 June 2006, 03:00 PM
I had the luminous idea of actually working in pencil (you know, on an actual sheet of paper:)).

Pa ... paper?!? What's that?

Anyway, with your latest picture, it's the perfect situation to really push the contrast. Hard light coming from the top creating hard shadows.

Lol, paper, good luck with this strange new medium!

06 June 2006, 03:25 PM
In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the wombat-thingy sleep tonight...:)

I finally have a scanner! I drew the animal on paper and did the rest on the computer. Only thing I have trouble with is that it always scans a white background and I don't know a way to isolate the sketch (magic selection tool is not precise enough).

06 June 2006, 12:22 PM
it always scans a white background and I don't know a way to isolate the sketch (magic selection tool is not precise enough).

I reckon the best way is to put the sketch layer on top of everything and set it's blend mode to "multiply" and paint in the layers underneath it. Enjoy.:)

06 June 2006, 04:58 PM
you can play with the levels if you still get dirt etc appearing on your scans. :) nice womabt. :)

06 June 2006, 01:43 PM
Thanks, JM!

I sketched this one with my tablet. I find this works better for character sketches (my other sketchwork I want to transfer to pen and paper - scanner). I'm going to shade the other half too, then work on the background and mood more. About 40 min (?) so far.

06 June 2006, 02:27 PM
Oh man this is adorable :) What a cute expression on the little guy down there :)

06 June 2006, 03:19 PM
Thanks, Runecaster! I'm actually almost uncomfortable with how 'cutesy' this is turning out. Normally in real life I'm this pretty ironic person that absolutely doesn't like stuffed animals in cars, tattoos of little bears etc.:)

Maybe it's just a karma thing today. Whatever I tried to sketch, something cute came out, so I decided to go with the best sketch. It's probably my inner self telling me to get in touch with my soft side, lol.

Down to a nice background. Progress:

edit: I only noticed just now they don't have ears. Another message from the subconcious?:)...

06 June 2006, 03:23 PM
I like the way you curl the tail on the upper one. And the expression on both looks adorable. Nice work :)

06 June 2006, 11:27 PM
Kelandra: thanks! I like the upper animals aloofness too. This is a 'finished first version' for the mood and comp:

edit: shadows! I forgot shadows! They have ears now, though:)

06 June 2006, 12:38 AM
Maladie! I just luuuuv these creatures! :love:

Have you considered making a comic strip out of it? Maybe like an entire village full of them. :D

Very nice work with the colors. :applause:

06 June 2006, 09:53 AM
Thanks! Turns out the cuteness is working then:).

Experimenting with a different background. I'd love to have a stylized, 'inked' comicy style, but I'm not sure I can pull it off yet. Maybe I need to think the shapes through better; it looks sort of sloppy now. If anybody has experience with this, or just wants to give her/his opinion, you're more than welcome to do so.:)

06 June 2006, 12:56 PM
I really like this so far Maladie - and don't worry about cute! Nothing wrong with that! :D I have no idea about comic style inks either, so I can't help in that regard. The only thing I know is that line weight should be different to help push depth/perspective. Thicker the closer stuff is, etc. But that's all I know!

07 July 2006, 01:14 AM
Thanks! Turns out the cuteness is working then:).

Experimenting with a different background. I'd love to have a stylized, 'inked' comicy style, but I'm not sure I can pull it off yet. Maybe I need to think the shapes through better; it looks sort of sloppy now. If anybody has experience with this, or just wants to give her/his opinion, you're more than welcome to do so.:)

We've got lots of talented comic artists here too maladie. Maybe you can try posting a querry in the techniques and theories forum.

Anyways here's what I picked up from a figure drawing book. You have to follow this method "up planes are light and down planes are dark"... so every plane that faces upwards and catches light should have thin lines while every plane that faces downwards (which ends up making cast shadows) should be thick. I hope that helps. ;)

07 July 2006, 11:29 AM
Thanks for the help again guys.

I just want to explain why my workflow stopped again. My cat got killed on a freeway on friday. I got this horrible phonecall and I've just been crying all weekend.

I really loved her. As soon as I finished a proper background for this one, I'm going to try to make a portrait of her. At least, if I can without more crying.:(

07 July 2006, 01:08 PM
Oh god Maladie that's horrible :( I'm so sorry!

07 July 2006, 01:02 AM
I'm sorry to hear that. :sad: Hope you're feeling better.

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