Saturday, December 14, 2013

#140characters140days - Half Way!

140 Days!?!?!

I'm so foolish. My goal of drawing 140 different characters in 140 days is a way bigger task than I planned, and I'm constantly falling behind. But will I give up? NO!

...well... probably not.

I participated in PiBoIdMo for the first time, and it was a really helpful exercise for my creativity and writing. It also taught me that one month is a great length for this kind of challenge. Mainly because it's easy to track. I have no idea how many days have passed since I started 140characters on October 1st. Not that I couldn't do the math, but what a bother! Also, one month passes pretty quickly, 140characters is taking f-o-r-e-v-e-r...

Now with all that said, I am definitely improving my drawing and creativity when it comes to creating new characters.

What I've Learned So Far

The biggest benefit to this exercise has been the freedom to play more than I usually do. All of my drawing is usually specific for a client, and on a tight deadline. So I often fail to experiment and many of my characters end up less inspired than I would prefer. Drawing a character a day frees me up to experiment with it. This has leaked into my client work, and given some extra energy to pieces that they wouldn't have had otherwise.

So here are my tips for keeping your characters fresh:

  1. Put the pencil on the paper! You don't have to start with a preconceived notion of who or what this character is. I'll often just start with a shape and then start to build off of it. The head and face usually come first but not always.
  2. Don't take too long. Working quickly helps keep energy in your drawing. You can always redraw the crummy bits later.
  3. Defy stereotypes. Give a bully glasses and a nerd a sports jersey, it will make it more interesting and also give the character more depth.
  4. Embrace stereotypes. Not really stereotypes though, I guess archetype is a better word. It will make your character instantly readable as a nerd if you make scrawny and give him glasses. Sometimes these things can be your friends. Just don't get stuck on them.
  5. Experiment. Try not to fall into the pattern of giving everyone the the same body shape and features. Look at people in real life and they're all really different.
  6. Look at people in real life. Steal from life and other art. Throw celebrities, historical figures and people you know into your illustrations. This illustration is you're world and you (or the AD) are it's god! Now take that power and abuse it!

Keep On Truckin'

Although I've likely bitten off more than I can chew I'm continuing on, whether I make it inside the 140 days or not. I'll see if I can post more regularly about too!


  1. Awesome! I have to agree that the project is extremely ambitious and I too have fallen quite behind (especially with the holidays and some larger projects taking up my time) but I also recently decided that I am going to keep on truckin' with it because I LOVE what it is doing for my art. I am really challenging myself to work with different perspectives and poses, and to try and work some more actual humans into my drawing (my kryptonite- I plan to finally start taking a figure drawing class early next year!) and also work on gestures and expressions.

    I'm really glad you came up with the idea and I'm glad you're at least kinda sorta sticking with it! :)

    1. Thanks, I'm glad that you're sticking with it too! It's great having somebody else undertaking the same challenge. It' definitely keeping my feet to the fire!

  2. Cool design, I love your work.