I hate character design. That’s my opening for this week. I find it tedious and annoying. But that is what I’ve working on in regards to my still unnamed web comic. It’s a bit of a slog for me and the going is never as fast as I want it to be.

Don’t get me wrong. I love drawing all sorts of new characters. Faces are one of my favorite things to draw and I got a million of them in my head. I am always drawing new faces and “characters”. I’ve been complemented on the wide variety of interesting people that I draw and think I’m pretty good at that sort of thing.

But here is the thing. Making an interesting drawing of a character is not character design. Making an interesting drawing of a character is making a interesting drawing. In character design you have to take that “interesting drawing” and turn it into six “interesting drawings” that you will use to make a wide variety of drawings. That is not an easy task.

In character design you have to visualize and draw the character in three dimensions. You need a front view, back view, three quarters view, side view, looking up, looking down, and plenty more. You need to know, or be able to figure out, what the character will look like from any angle. It’s a lot of work. I’ve known people (and envied them) who are good at character design and like to do it but I’m not one of them. For me it’s a big pain.

To further hinder me my drawing tends to be two dimensional. I’m not usually interested in trying to render some real world object in a three dimensional way. Instead I’m using marks on paper to create a world or character that make sense in the confines of a two dimensional rectangle. A completely different type of “realism”. Plus creating something in two dimensions often doesn’t translate well into three dimensions. It can be apples and oranges.

My usual method of drawing works against me too. I often use a surrealist automatic drawing method. That is where I draw with no preconceived notion of what I want to draw. I see where the drawing leads me and go in that direction. That is how I can come up with the unusual drawings that I like. With normal illustrative drawing, which is character design’s category, you have to visualize what you are going to draw before you draw it. It’s in your head and then you get it down on paper. I’m not used to that any more.

So I’ve spent a lot of last week asking myself, “What does this character look like from the side?” followed by “Does this look right?”. Usually I ask myself, “What the heck am I drawing?” followed by “Does this line make the drawing more interesting?”. It’s a totally different mind set with different problems and solutions.

I’ve been trying to bring the two mind sets together. I wasted a lot of my time drawing a bunch of characters in a “realistic” illustrative fashion. I referenced things and figured it all out in three dimensions and ended up being completely bored with the drawings. Now I’ve been trying to bring in some of my interesting two dimension drawing techniques into the three dimensional character design. It’s kind of tricky. And a bit frustrating. And laborious.

But at least I now have some character designs that don’t bore me to death. I have a long way to go on them and some of them may have to be abandoned but I think I’m on the right path. Man this takes a lot of work. But if the character designs bore me imagine how an audience would feel about them.