Sketching Junjie

Junjie, as one of Penelope and Eloise’ close friends, will end up in many stories and pictures in our books.

Before drawing scenes to illustrate our book, I like to spend time getting to know the characters.  I’ve done that with Penelope and Eloise so far, and now I’m doing that with Junjie.

I do this by drawing him (all of them, in fact) in as many positions, activities, and scenarios as I can imagine.

It’s a lot of fun to do, and it helps me build a history and rich personality for each character (besides the one that they were each created to have).

Below is an example from my sketchbook of some exploratory drawings of Junjie.  As I draw, I become familiar with how he stands, sits, and moves … which allows me to focus more on the imaginative settings in the story .

Getting something right, often means a lot of repetition and practice!

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BFF’s

Now that Eloise is designed, it’s time to see what the dynamics of her friendship with Penelope will look like.

The writing will determine most of that of course, but there are subtleties in body language and activity that will speak volumes.  Although it is time to begin serious work on the illustrations for the book, it will always be important to explore these characters more fully.  They are as deep and as complex as you and I.

penelope_eloise_dance002What I most like to keep, in any drawing, is a feeling of energy, or life.  Sometimes that quality lies in the line work, other times in the colour, and yet other times, in the texture.  Sometimes, it is found in all three.  Each drawing needs to satisfy the eyes and the soul in some way.

Further Explorations of Character Design

I’d decided Penelope’s basic proportions. Now it was time to try her out in various positions, activities, and moods.

In the sketchbook drawing below, I tested my basic concept of Penelope to see if her proportions would work sitting down, crossing her arms, and jumping in the air.  I wanted to be able to exaggerate her proportions on a case by case basis (foreshortened and detailed feet with toes … bigger shoulders for a hunched up look when crossing arms) and was pleased with the result.

Next, Janna and I decided upon a hairstyle to match her character.  Wild, carefree, stubborn, and loveable…her hair became an expressive part of her design.  I wanted it to look generally the same, but be able to use it to indicate her mood and tell a story.

🙂

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This drawing of Penelope is much closer to the final design, only her hair would be simplified over the next little bit.

This is also the first drawing of Penelope with her bunny and puppy (Snowflake).

But I still had questions. How would she look in her different environments.  What would her house look like? How tall should she be in comparison to its front steps? How should I design her bedroom?

And what about the rest of her family? How should the rest of the Bloom family appear?

Very exciting!!!

Decisions …

After brainstorming for a while, it was time to make some decisions.  If our Penelope was to come alive, she would be a person with characteristics that did not change.  No matter what she did – jumping, sitting, yawning, or climbing – her little self would always keep the same basic proportions and characteristics.

Below, is one page of charts from my sketchbook where I began to work those details out.

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The drawings are rough and unfinished … but Penelope is starting to take shape 🙂

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