Illustration and Character Development: Expressions

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tips-tricks

Expressions. We all have them. We all use them. So, naturally, characters in our art should show them.

Emotion is one of my favorite things to portray in an illustration. For me, it makes the work come alive. While you can use all sorts of things to convey emotion — color, line, value — I feel that expression is the most important! If you have a dreary looking picture with muted colors and lots of contrast, but your character’s expression looks blank, or elated, or even confused, then the meaning behind your picture can be lost.

My advice for emotion is simple: observe. If you aren’t sure how a character’s expression should be portrayed, start looking around you! Watch yourself in a mirror. Sketch references from people around you. Heck, Google it (I do!).

Here is a list of some of the most common emotions (with definitions, courtesy Dictionary.com) to portray, along with a figure to illustrate them (using my own little character, whom is my little alter ego, whom I have no name for. Hmm, might need to change that.)


1. Happy: delighted, pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing: to be happy to see a person.

2. Sad: affected by unhappiness or grief; sorrowful or mournful: to feel sad because a close friend has moved away.

3. Angry: feeling or showing anger or strong resentment (usually followed by at, with,  or about  ): to be angry at the dean; to be angry about the snub.

4. Confusion: perplexity; bewilderment: The more difficult questions left us in complete confusion.

5. Tired: exhausted, as by exertion; fatigued or sleepy: a tired runner.

6. Excitement: stirred emotionally; agitated: An excited crowd awaited the arrival of the famed rock group.

7. Shock: a sudden or violent disturbance of the mind, emotions, or sensibilities: The burglary was a shock to her sense of security.

8. Fright (Scared): sudden and extreme fear; a sudden terror.

9. Fury: unrestrained or violent anger, rage, passion, or the like: The gods unleashed their fury on the offending mortal.

10. Worry: to torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts; fret.

expressions

My expression sheet*, as you can see, utilizes 16 expressions — but you can easily use more!

*Download my expression sheet for your own (personal) use:

Download (PDF, 85KB)


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Critique, Dragons, and Sugar Deprivation

sneak-peekSo, this week has been interesting. My hubby and I are on a 21 day sugar detox. Those late night trips to Sonic for a Reese’s blast — and the fact that my pants were feeling a bit snug (dang clothes fairies) — made me think, “Maybe we eat too much sugar.” And, here we are. For 21 straight days, no carbohydrates and no sugar of any kind. That includes sugar substitutes of any kind, even honey. Three Four days in (see? My brain is so addled from lack of sugar that I can’t even count!) and I’m feeling the effects.

Okay so maybe I’m exaggerating just a little. It’s not that bad. And, honestly? I’m starting to feel pretty good. But I’m NOT exaggerating when I say that my brain is addled. Well, maybe it always has been. But, the past few days my brain has certainly been loopy. Makes it hard to write coherent sentences, or put focus into drawing. But I’ve managed to get a little bit done on my extensive to-do list. :)

Last week, I posted a snippet of a new YA project: a series called the Guardians. It’s about shapeshifters/dragons, magic, and awesomeness! Well, I managed to nail down roughly 2000 words, and so I sent it off to my critique group. They had wonderful things to say (yay, me!) and also offered some brilliant insights. So, today, I’m going to post a snippet of my original work, along with the revised copy, to let you see how instrumental a critique group can be for your writing.

I’m serious folks. They pick up on things you may never dream of.

 

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First Draft:
I allowed myself a few more moments before I straightened my shoulders and resolved that I did not need any help. I would find out what happened on my own. I hailed a cab to head back to Mirabel’s home, and as I started to get into the vehicle, I had to shake a sudden feeling of being watched. The hairs on my arms and neck stood on end and, as the car pulled away, I turned to look out the back window.

At first nothing looked unusual, and I almost chastised myself for acting crazy. But, the car turned the corner and I caught a figure dash into an alleyway just before the street disappeared from view.

Okay, not so crazy.

Back at the apartment, I tried to ignore my overactive imagination and began to search through Mirabel’s things, hoping to find some sort of clue. However, I never could shake the uneasiness. Even after hours of tearing through every square inch of space without any luck, when my body collapsed on the bed in exhaustion and my mind felt heavy with defeat, I still felt like I had to keep looking over my shoulder.

I turned on the television to drown out my overactive imagination and dropped down onto the couch. Something hard dug into my hip and I reached down between the seat. My hand hit something metal, and I pulled up a set of keys. I recognized the keychain I had given Mirabel at a fair several years ago; one that I had the other side to. One of those cheap silver “best friends” charms. I stared at it dumbly for a moment.

If her keys were still here, was her car? I didn’t remember seeing it, but I hadn’t gone around to the back of the building, instead obsessing about everything inside. I stood and headed out the door, completely forgetting about my earlier paranoia.

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Revision:

I allowed myself a few more moments before I straightened my shoulders and resolved to continue the search on my own. There had to be an answer. I hailed a cab to head back to Mirabel’s home. As I started to get into the vehicle, the hairs on my arms and neck stood on end and, as the car pulled away, I turned to look out the back window. Was I being watched?

At first nothing looked unusual, and I almost chastised myself for acting crazy. But, the car turned the corner and I saw a figure dash into an alleyway just before the street disappeared from view.

Okay, not so crazy.

Back at the apartment, I tried to ignore my overactive imagination and began to search through Mirabel’s things, hoping to find some sort of clue. However, I never could shake the uneasiness. Even after hours of tearing through every square inch without any luck, when my body wanted to collapse from exhaustion and my mind felt heavy with defeat, I still felt like I had to keep looking over my shoulder.

I turned on the television to drown out my rampant thoughts and dropped down onto the couch. Something hard dug into my hip and I reached down between the seat cushions. My hand hit something metal, and I pulled up a set of keys. It was the keychain I had given Mirabel at a fair several years ago. One of those cheap silver “best friends” charms that I had the other side to. I stared at it dumbly for a moment.

If her keys were still here, was her car? I didn’t remember seeing it, but I had been too obsessed about everything inside to check the back of the building. I stood and headed out the door, completely forgetting about my earlier paranoia.

**********

So, what do you think? I’m very happy with the revision, personally, but I would love to hear your thoughts!
Also, if you have an experience with critique groups, I’d love to hear your stories. :)

♥ D.

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