4.7 Character development


The brief was to research, develop and create a 360° drawing of a character.

Keywords from the brief:

  • Collect as many different examples of different characters as possible
  • Catalogue these
  • Decide upon a character
  • Begin to brainstorm
  • Draw your character from the front, from the side and from the back
  • Get into role and adopt their mood, expression and personality
  • Try moving the facial features around to extremes
  • Be conscious of the contribution clothing and costume makes


I like the atmosphere of Leadenhall Market at lunchtime where a lot of city traders have a drink; it’s a good place to find larger than life characters. So I took out my iPhone during my lunch break to photograph some reference material.

Character development

My character development was done in a A3 sketchbook using pencil, ink pen and pen and ink. The character I decided to develop was based on one of the lunchtime drinkers I’d photographed in the market.

All the images below are 2 x A3-pages.


I took the front, side and back illustrations and coloured them in Photoshop to see how they worked.

It then occurred to me that I could organise them into a sequence to form a short narrative.


What I learned from the exercise

What went well

  • I like the character I developed. He makes me smile so I think there’s something there I can use to communicate.
  • I enjoyed doing sketchbook development. I feel quite familiar with this character, and apart from drawing hands (which I still find tricky), I think I could reproduce it convincingly from most angles. What really helps are his distinctive features – big nose, bags under the eyes and beer gut.
  • I used some interesting texture in the pen and ink drawings. This adds another dimension to the images.
  • Putting the views of the character into a sequence works. It’d be nice to do another couple of images after he’d started on the whisky.

What I could have done differently/better

  • I didn’t do the research in way suggested in the brief. I did start thumbing through magazines to find characters but wasn’t inspired. I thought it would be more productive and focused if I generated the reference myself.
  • I need to practice drawing hands.
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