Friday, October 21, 2016

Creating your cast of characters

After studying and drawing all of my reference I designed my rhino family for the book. I have altered and played with a Black Rhino's anatomy a bit. I have enlarged their eyes to allow for more expression and played with their face a bit. I wanted them to be quite realistic but not too cartoonish. 

My linears or blueprints for spreads are very close to my character concepts. Whenever I illustrate or design a character I need to learn it inside out until I can spontaneously draw it right out of my head. I know I am getting close when I can put my reference away and just draw. This can take awhile. So I look and draw and doodle until everything flows. Then I do diagrams of every character in the round. This makes great reference for me and helps me carry the characters with some consistency through the book.

Early Concept Drawing of Mama Rhino for Rhino Rumpus. Copyright Tara Anderson 
  Our book in based in fantasy. In reality a Rhino Mom would never have so many little ones unless she was traveling in a large group of mothers with babies ( highly unlikely in this century) or living with orphans in a zoo or sanctuary. A rhino pregnancy takes 15 to 16 months. A healthy Black Rhino weighs 80 pounds or more when it is born! Imagine that. A year later they are approximately 167 pounds or more! With that in mind I starting doodling!
I also gave my characters little elements of costume. The girl has a sock monkey. ( My daughter's sock monkey Felix) She wears her big coral bow in every spread. It just helps distinguish her as the sister and adds a little fun. Mama has her stylish earrings.  She is also wearing her pearls too.
Early Concept drawing of Big Sister Rhino for Rhino Rumpus by Tara Anderson 
I have tried to make the baby look like the littlest and sweetest of all of the babies I found. Baby rhinos are so cute. When I first read Victoria's story I jumped on google to see just what they were like.  This little guy is a bit different in my linears. All of my characters have evolved into looser versions of these of early sketches. 
I hope you enjoyed peeking into my sketch journals! Stay tuned and watch this project become a published book! 
Happy sketching. Tara Anderson

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Good Research Helps You Be An Original!

Stage One - Researching Your Subject

The first thing I do is read the manuscript. I make copies and put them all over the house. I write down my ideas and thoughts on them and just try to step into my author's brain. Then I dive into my research. I learn facts, history, natural habitat, animal behavior and everything that makes this particular animal unique.

 A variety of visual reference can really help you see your subject from the inside out.  I looked at skeletons, illustrations of muscles, videos and of course lots of pictures. Never copy anyone else's work. It may be tempting if you are struggling with skills and technique but it is the shortest path to ending your carrier before you get started.

Do you ever have a bad drawing day when nothing works? When that happens to me I go back to kindergarten.  I will build things out of plasticine before I resort to copying anything. Never under estimate the power of looking at your subject in the round. It can unblock your creativity and help you perceive things from a new angle.  No one has to see the mess you just made! I have used this technique so many times. In college I used to build things out of Lego when I was struggling with perspective and just really tired. 

The best piece of reference that I came across was a documentary on YouTube. Watching a baby rhino bump around and live in a house was very enlightening. Wow did it help me perceive their scale and power. Having empathy for your subject is so crucial for an illustrator. If you can infuse your emotions into your characters they will take shape and have presence. I would recommend this documentary but beware this is not for little children. I found it quite upsetting.

Stay Tuned! Stage Two is coming up next! Creating the cast of characters for the story....