Character Drawing Basics
Character drawing considerations are many for a children’s book. The best approach is to draw sketches of each page of your story. Read the story and determine what should be captured in art and who or what the character should be to best depict the story. Create your character to appeal to your reader audience. It is a gratifying feeling to look back at your preliminary sketchbook and compare them to the illustrations in the completed book. The little tweaks here and there should be the only deviations from the original sketches.
Design “Paper Doll” Characters
Design your characters carefully. They should look the same from one page to the next. When navigating from one page of your finished product to the next, the character should have the same build, the same proportions, the same color, etc. Generally, create the body, then draw different arm and leg poses to fit the body. Think “paper dolls” when drawing the parts to fit the body. All body parts must be able to travel from scene to scene unchanged for character believe-ability and move-ability. As far as the face is concerned, you should have at least three faces: surprised, angry, and happy. The eyes, mouth, eyebrows, nose, and even ears can vary in appearance and location depending on the expression wishing to be conveyed. Here is a link that gives a simple lip syncing tutorial and this link for animating the walk cycle.
Best Characters Are Not Perfect Characters
Your character’s features will be more interesting if they are not world perfect. Create a character that is unique and has the necessary features to fit the story you will surround it with. Choose something that a young child can relate to when developing the special features of the character. Your character can be as simple as sticks and circles or as elaborate as carefully placed bezier curves, color gradients, and shading.
So, get out your drawing pad, divide each page into fourths, and use one section for a quick sketch of each page. Your completed sketches should bring your story to life!