This is a section from a handout I did recently for a lecture at CalArts.
I've been talking a lot about layout and composition but I definitely want to talk about drawing characters as well. I've been remiss not to get into this sooner...but my rainy day technical problems (see previous post) force me to abandon my plan and post what I have available to me at work!
Appeal is a very very hard subject to cover...it's very elusive and hard to quantify. I don't know much about it myself! But this section touches on so, so, so many things I want to cover in detail in the future. So check it out and I will build on all of these concepts more and more in the future.
The three concepts I talk about first - rhythm, variety of shape, and proportion - are three huge, huge secrets to doing great character design. I really wanted to talk about these in depth....but again, maybe there's a benefit to my rainy day dilemma of just throwing all this out there. Read this stuff and I will build on these simple concepts as we go.
A big key to great drawing - in my mind, anyway - is GROUPING. Any drawing can be improved by unifying it. A drawing should feel like one thing...not a bunch of human parts stuck together on a background that is made up of different peices of landscape. Many drawing books encourage you to think of humans or animals as being made up of different sections as you draw. That can be a big help, and definitely works well for some people. But my approach is to try and learn everything I can about the subject before I draw it - know the skeleton backwards and forwards, and know the musculature backwards and forwards and draw the subject as ONE THING as you draw. Because the gesture of whatever you draw should be consistent within all the parts and give them a unified direction. If you're thinking of the figure as different peices it's hard to give them a unifying overall gesture and line-of-action.
At least that's my goal anyway....I'm still working on the knowing everything backwards and forwards bit.
Again, much much more on this to come.
For now, try this out yourself - if you're unhappy with a drawing, look and see what you can "group" together to simplify the pose and give the figure or object more direction or a better gesture.
Anyway, take a look, and I will try to add to all this stuff when my issues are resolved. Know that this is just the very tip of the iceberg on all of these issues. If anything seems confusing, don't worry, I will blab about it ad naseum when I can!