'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 19 September 2014

Review: Character Design: From the Ground Up

Character Design: From the Ground Up is a comprehensive introduction to creating characters for stories in a graphic way. As the blurb on the back of the book says, “from films to games, books to comics, all stories need refined, beautiful characters.”

Character Design is divided into three parts: basics, process and projects.

In ‘The Basics’, Kevin Crossley takes you through everything you’ll need to know to get started, beginning with having reference materials, drawing equipment and computer software. An understanding of the fundamentals of anatomy is provided to help with creating convincing figures, and looks at the skeleton, muscles, head and face. Next is using design templates to make drawing quicker and easier, and then a short section on working with clients.

Kevin Crossley is an experienced author and artist whose background includes computer games and freelance illustration. It’s this experience that is packed into the pages of this book where he explains the importance of building a drawing habit - and having a traditional sketchbook even if you mostly work digitally.

Fill a page a day. This is my favourite drawing exercise, and the one I try to pass on at every opportunity. Even if you take nothing else from this book, you must try this at least!

The process part of the book explores different ways of developing various characters, taking inspiration from reference material and moving from thumbnails to more complete personalities. Hundreds of pictures from various stages of character evolution are used to complement the text. There’s also a section called “Paper versus Photoshop” which discusses the pros and cons of each, along with working “tradigitally” which is combining both methods.

The final part of the book is a series of case studies featuring a range of styles and characters. Look out for dragons, goblins and giant steampunk robot-cats!

Character Design: From the Ground Up is a fascinating book that is pitched just right for budding artists wondering what it takes to be a professional, or for amatuer artists who’d like a bit of inspiration or guidance. It also got my fingers itching to draw something!

Title: Character Design: From the Ground Up
Author: Kevin Crossley
Publisher: Ilex, $39.99 RRP
Publication Date: September 2014
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781781572108
For ages: 14+
Type: Non-fiction