I’ve always loved to draw. In 7th grade I only got one elective and I had to choose between continuing playing clarinet in the school band, or finally seize the chance to take a drawing class. Looking back I think that my Mother favored band – that was what she did as a teenager. However in the end it wasn’t much of a choice. I was better at drawing, and although I enjoyed music, being the last chair with no serious aspirations, I took pity on my fellow band members and took to the silent arts.
At times it was a struggle. At the very least I doubted the support of most of my family. It just wasn’t practical. It consumed time while chores and school work fell by the wayside.
At first it was the typical girl stuff I guess – flowers and fashion-designing dresses. After a couple notebooks of faceless girls sporting my dress creations I decided that I just had to learn how to draw faces. That was before taking the art class so I went to the library and checked out some drawing books. Did I actually read them? Knowing me, probably not. I probably just looked at all the pictures and the step by step process. I picked up some of it and managed faces tolerably until the art teacher got around to teaching us.
I confess I am horrid at landscape and animals. Heck, I think I’d have to study and practice a whole bunch before I would be pleased by attempts at cartoons even. But somewhere along the way I took to drawing people – particularly faces. These days it seem that such is the only projects I take on usually.
Then I got hooked on Dragonlance Fantasy books in Jr. High. I started drawing the book characters from the covers. A bunch of those I ended up giving away to one person or another. However, it was still copy work. The idea of drawing my own characters was a distant, intimidating dream.
By High school I was well into writing. I started off with a teacher who pushed me, but lost him by a family move and ended up with a lax teacher looking forward to retirement. My focus and discipline pined away, taking with them any significant progress. However, I had one project that I titled “Heroes and Icons of Ogden High” where I drew a bunch of the teachers. That got some attention. Most of those pictures I either gave to the teachers or some of them I sold. But it proved to me that I could draw from photos, so I started keeping an eye out for models.
These days when I want to draw one of my characters the biggest thing I want to capture in a model is the expression – the personality. It’s nice to have other similarities, but hair, jewelry, scars and special features are easier to fill in.
The downsides of drawing your characters? Well, just like other things in stories, characters sometimes have this bad habit of evolving. They change ages from book to book, and sometimes change names, hair, build, personality and even races. Take Seth for instance – the conspiratorial elf. In one session of restructuring my world, I totally kicked out the entire elven race. Half of them I turned into my Elon race, but that culture has peculiar tendencies that just wouldn’t work for some “former elves” like Seth. So he suddenly became human and this image became obsolete. Some characters I’ve drawn three or four times. Ironically, I think the character I’ve started drawing the most is Ezra and yet I was never happy with the results so I still don’t have one of her. Diana’s portrait is too old since in Hall she’s only sixteen. Serena, the girl with the curly hair, used to be a major character but now is merely background (and yes, technically it did take me years to finish that one, because it was too tedious to focus on for a long time and I was a college student at the time).
Yes, I have lots of sketches among my notes, which aren’t nearly as “finished” or refined as the portraits because they are made merely for my own reference and are mostly the bare bones of an idea. I rarely scan them in or share them with others. However, I do happen to have one page scanned in that I can share to give an idea.
I do draw commission characters and love having that chance because I know I love having drawings of mine. Vance is one of those that I particularly loved how it turned out. It’s below, the guy with light curly hair and the scarline near his eye. When doing someone else’s character, I’m not done until I get the okay from the author. Sometimes that means starting over – which is tedious, I admit – when I can hand them a drawing that they feel portrays their character, it’s just cool.
Below is a slideshow sample of my work, hope you enjoy!