illustration (2)

Today I’m bringing you five tips on how to paint imaginary characters.

Tip number 1: Have a good description of your character’s physical appearance.

Today I am painting Raistlin from the book series “Dragonlance”. I don’t know much about Raistlin to begin with, and so I had to do a bit of research to know how the author described him in the books. What is his eye color? What color is his skin? What color is his hair? How long is is it? Is his hair long? Is it short?

Tip number 2: Have a good description of a character’s personality

For an appealing character painting, it’s important to see the character’s personality showing through. A character’s personality will deeply affect his face. His personality will dictate his facial expressions and a character that normally smiles a lot for example will have expression wrinkles around the mouth, or a character that is angry a lot will have expression wrinkles between the eyebrows, or a character that just worries a lot will have expression wrinkles on the forehead. That will give a lot more depth to your character and make it look believable.

If you really think about it, your character’s personality will also dictate his posture.

If the character has an imposing presence, he will look taller by having a straighter back and shoulders back. If a character is depressed, the shoulders will be hunched forward and the back would be more curved.

Tip number 3: Have a good grasp on your character’s background story

Just like you and me, a person always has a past that influences how they are later in life, and that is the same with a believable character. What we’re trying to do here, is realistically portray this character and so having a good grasp on his backstory will be very helpful in bringing the character to life.

A character’s background story will influence his personality and his physical appearance as we’ve discussed before.

For example: Imagine that your character was brought up in a frugal home and didn’t have a lot of money. Throughout his life he will have a greater tendency to wear cheaper clothing, maybe have tears in this clothes. If he comes from royalty, he will have a bit of a cleaner look about him, well tailored clothes, maybe a lot more colorful.

Tip number 4: Know the world that this character lives in

Having a good idea of the world the character lives in, will let you know: What kind of dress fits that world, what kind of clothes fit that world, what is his social standing, what does that social standing usually look like in that world, what they usually dress like in that world.

Where does your character live? Does he live in a cave, like me? Or does he live in a palace? What time period is the story set in? That will influence the look of your character as well as what kind of races exists in this world. Is it a normal world like ours? Or is it a fantasy world where you have all sorts of different imaginary fantastical races? Like elves and orcs and fairies and magicians…it’s not a race but let’s go with it. Anything that you might know about this character, this world, will give a lot more depth to your painting.

Tip number 5: Knowing your character’s interests and what is important to them

For making a character painting more detailed and to give it some more history and some more personality, you can have some bits here and there of things that surround this character’s story, things that are important to them.

In this case, Raistlin has a staff with him, which is his magical staff.

You could have a person that is very attached to family, or that had a loved one that passed away and you could give him, for example a locket with that family member’s photograph. You could add that to the picture and add a bit more story to it.

Or imagine that you have a female character that once was proposed to you by someone she loved, but things didn’t work out and maybe she still wears that ring for emotional significance. You could have her wearing that ring.

Just small things that might not seem very important, but actually give a lot more character to your painting.

Bonus Tip:

Taking all of this these steps that I gave, now it’s time to go and search for your reference pictures. It’s good to have several different reference pictures to use. You could, for example, go
on Pinterest or Google and search for a portrait or selfie and select a few pictures of a model or a person that you think fits the description of the character; You can find reference photos
for the clothing and for background.

I hope that this was helpful to you. Please leave a like and share if it was!

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