Children’s Book Brief – Characters

Ideas and developmental work for my characters for an illustrated story based on the tale The Singing Bone.


Once I had experimented with the materials I had chosen to use I decided to improve my characters. I liked my original character designs but I felt that they looked too flat and not very expressive. In order to improve them I decided to make clay models of my characters because in the book, I want them to look like models sculpted by hand.

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I used air dry clay to make the little brother, the big brother, the king, the princess and the boar. I only used simple tools to form these characters.

Once my models had dried I was able to use them to draw from. Drawing from these models allowed me to improve my character designs as I was able to make my sketches look more three dimensional, this process also helped me to include more character in my designs, making them look more alive.

I used a conte pencil on brown paper for these images. I chose brown paper because it gave the images more warmth than white paper would and it helped to make them look more primal like the images and sculptures that inspired them.

I then added colour to the sketches of the characters using gouache paint. I tried to give each character their own colour so that they were easily distinguishable from each other. I chose simple colours for the brothers as they come from a poor farming family and I wanted to reflect this in their design. For the king and Princess I chose rich colours to reflect their royalty but I still wanted them to look like they were made from materials from the earth to keep with the theme of primal sculptures and figures. For the Princess I tested a few different colours, I tired an orange colour but this turned out too similar to the brothers, I also tried a blue colour but this made her look to cold in comparison to the other characters. I think that the contrast from the conte pencil and the paint helps to make the figures look more lively and expressive because of the rough, smudgy lines.

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