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Art Blog
how to draw sharp teeth and have them make sense: a tutorial

busket:

so you want to draw a character with sharp teeth? that’s cool! you have a lot of options. like most things, how you draw fearsome teeth can be improved by looking at nature and i’m gonna show you how.

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Notes on Character Design

lackadaisycats:

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Character design and drawing are tome-sized topics and even if I had all the answers (I don’t - I have a lot to learn), I’m not sure I could communicate them effectively. I’ve gathered some thoughts and ideas here, though, in case they’re helpful.

First, some general things:

 - Relax and let some of that anxiety go. This isn’t a hard science. There’s no wrong way, no rigid process you must adhere to, no shoulds or shouldn’ts except those you designate for yourself. This is one of the fun parts of being an artist, really - have a heady good time with it.

 - Be patient. A design is something gradually arrived at. It takes time and iteration and revision. You’ll throw a lot of stuff away, and you’ll inevitably get frustrated, but bear in mind the process is both inductive and deductive. Drawing the wrong things is part of the path toward drawing the right thing.

- Learn to draw.  It might seem perfunctory to say, but I’m not sure everyone’s on the same page about what this means. Learning to draw isn’t a sort of rote memorization process in which, one by one, you learn a recipe for humans, horses, pokemon, cars, etc. It’s much more about learning to think like an artist, to develop the sort of spacial intelligence that lets you observe and effectively translate to paper, whatever the subject matter. When you’re really learning to draw, you’re learning to draw anything and everything. Observing and sketching trains you to understand dimension, form, gesture, mood, how anatomy works, economy of line; all of the foundational stuff you will also rely on to draw characters from your imagination.
Spend some time honing your drawing ability. Hone it with observational sketching. Hone it good.
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  • I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone do this sort of thing better than Claire Wendling. In fact, character designs emerge almost seamlessly from her gestural sketches. It’d be worth looking her up.

- Gather Inspiration like a crazed magpie. What will ultimately be your trademark style and technique is a sort of snowball accumulation of the various things you expose yourself to, learn and draw influence from. To that effect, Google images, tumblr, pinterest and stock photo sites are your friends. When something tingles your artsy senses - a style, a shape, a texture, an appealing palette, a composition, a pose, a cool looking animal, a unique piece of apparel, whatever - grab it. Looking at a lot of material through a creative lens will make you a better artist the same way reading a lot of material makes a better writer.
It’ll also devour your hard drive and you will try and fail many times to organize it, but more importantly, it’ll give you a lovely library of ideas and motivational shinies to peruse as you’re conjuring characters.

- Imitation is a powerful learning tool. Probably for many of us, drawing popular cartoon characters was the gateway habit that lured us into the depraved world of character design to begin with. I wouldn’t suggest limiting yourself to one style or neglecting your own inventions to do this, but it’s an effective way to limber up, to get comfortable drawing characters in general, and to glean something from the thought processes of other artists.

- Use references. Don’t leave it all up to guessing. Whether you’re trying to design something with realistic anatomy or something rather profoundly abstracted from reality, it’s helpful in a multitude of ways to look at pictures. When designing characters, you can infer a lot personality from photos, too.
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And despite what you might have heard, having eyeballs and using them to look at things doesn’t constitute cheating. There’s no shame in reference material. There’s at least a little shame in unintentional abstractions, though.
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Concepts and Approach:

- Break it down. Sometimes you have the look of a character fleshed out in your mind before putting it to paper, but usually not. That doesn’t mean you have to blow your cortical fuses trying conceive multiple diverse designs all at the same time, though. You don’t even have to design the body shape, poses, face, and expressions of a single character all at once. Tackle it a little at a time.

The cartoony, googly eyed style was pre-established for this simple mobile game character, but I still broke it into phases. Start with concepts, filter out what you like until you arrive at a look, experiment with colors, gestures and expressions.
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- Start with the general and work toward the specific. Scribbling out scads of little thumbnails and silhouettes to capture an overall character shape is an effective way begin - it’s like jotting down visual notes. When you’re working at a small scale without agonizing over precision and details, there’s no risk of having to toss out a bunch of hard work, so go nuts with it. Give yourself a lot of options.

Here’s are some sample silhouettes from an old cancelled project in which I was tasked with designing some kind of cyber monkey death bot. I scratched out some solid black shapes then refined some of them a step or two further.
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- Shapes are language. They come preloaded with all sorts of biological, cultural and personal connotations. They evoke certain things from us too. If you’re ever stuck about where to go with your design, employ a sort of anthroposcopy along these lines - make a visual free association game out of it. It’ll not only tend to result in a distinguished design, but a design that communicates something about the nature of the character.

Think about what you infer from different shapes. What do they remind you of? What personalities or attitudes come to mind? How does the mood of a soft curve differ from that of a sharp angle? With those attributes attached, how could they be used or incorporated into a body or facial feature shape? What happens when you combine shapes in complementary or contrasting ways? How does changing the weight distribution among a set of shapes affect look and feel? Experiment until a concept starts to resonate with the character you have in mind or until you stumble on something you like.
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If you don’t have intent, take the opposite approach - draw some shapes and see where they go. (It’s stupid fun.)

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- Cohesion and Style. As you move from thumbnails to more refined drawings, you can start extrapolating details from the general form. Look for defining shapes, emergent themes or patterns and tease them out further, repeat them, mirror them, alternate them. Make the character entirely out of boxy shapes, incorporate multiple elements of an architectural style, use rhythmically varying line weights - there are a million ways to do this

Here’s some of the simple shape repetition I’ve used for Lackadaisy characters.
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- Expressions - let them emerge from your design. If your various characters have distinguishing features, the expressions they make with those features will distinguish them further. Allow personality to influence expressions too, or vice versa. Often, a bit of both happens as you continue drawing - physiognomy and personality converge somewhere in the middle.

For instance, Viktor’s head is proportioned a little like a big cat. Befitting his personality, his design lets him make rather bestial expressions. Rocky, with his flair for drama, has a bit more cartoon about him. His expressions are more elastic, his cheeks squish and deform and his big eyebrows push the boundaries of his forehead. Mitzi is gentler all around with altogether fewer lines on her face. The combination of her large sleepy eyes and pencil line brow looked a little sad and a little condescending to me when I began working out her design - ultimately those aspects became incorporated into her personality.
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I discuss expression drawing in more detail here (click the image for the link):
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- Pose rendering is another one of those things for which observational/gesture drawing comes in handy. Even if you’re essentially scribbling stick figures, you can get a handle on natural looking, communicative poses this way. Stick figure poses make excellent guidelines for plotting out full fledged character drawings too.

Look for the line of action. It’ll be easiest to identify in poses with motions, gestures and moods that are immediately decipherable. When you’ve learned to spot it, you can start reverse engineering your own poses around it.
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- Additional resources
- here are some related things about drawing poses and constructing characters (click the images for the links).

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Lastly…

- Tortured rumination about lack of ability/style/progress is a near universal state of creative affairs. Every artist I have known and worked with falls somewhere on a spectrum between frustration in perpetuity and a shade of fierce contrition Arthur Dimmesdale would be proud of. So, next time you find yourself constructing a scourge out of all those crusty acrylic brushes you failed to clean properly, you loathsome, deluded hack, you, at least remember you’re not alone in feeling that way. When it’s not crushing the will to live out of you, the device does have its uses - it keeps you self-critical and locked in working to improve mode. If we were all quite satisfied with our output, I suppose we’d be out of reasons to try harder next time.

When you need some reassurance, compare old work to new. Evolution is gradual and difficult to perceive if you’re narrowed in on the nearest data point, but if you’ve been steadily working on characters for a few months or a year, you’ll likely see a favorable difference between points A and B.

Most of all, don’t dwell on achieving some sort of endgame in which you’re finally there as a character artist. There’s no such place - wherever you are, there is somewhere else. It’s a moving goal post. Your energy will be better spent just enjoying the process…and that much will show in the results.

damianrules:

I said I’d write up a tutorial on how to make these wings. It’ll be terrible So, here goes. XD
Have one or two friends to help you out. It’s easier with more hands.Materials:
Thin poster board. (For small wings you will need 3 pieces. For wings like this you will need 6)
Opal cellophane. (two rolls to be safe)
Adhesive glue.
Scissors.
Wire cutters.
Exacto knife. (I recommended using this for cutting out the poster board)
Hot glue gun.
3 Hanger wires (it’s super sturdy)
Pencil, and eraser.
Iron.
GLITTER!!!!!!!!!
Step one:
Find a reference photo! These wings are meant for a Periwinkle cosplay but since her and Tinkerbell have the same wings we used Tink as a reference.
Step Two:
Since we made our wings super large we had to glue two pieces of poster board together. This is why I said 6 pieces for large wings. Reason why is because of their size just one piece would make it droop. So before drawing the design on you spray one piece with adhesive and put the other piece on top of it. Making it as even as possible.
If you’re making smaller wings just go to step three!
Step Three:
Draw your design on the poster board. We drew ours on from corner to corner (diagonally) If you want smaller wings I recommend drawing it from corner to the the middle of the board.
Step four:
This is the most tedious of all the steps to making wings. Take your exact o knife and start cutting. You cut around the design but make sure to cut half an inch away from the line. You can go back later to make it thinner if you want. Using one poster board will take less time then two since it isn’t as thick.
Make sure there is something underneath the board so you don’t damage your floor.
Step Five: (not necessary but who says no to glitter)
We’re obsessed with glitter. So naturally we coated both sides of the design with white glitter. We used adhesive for this as well.
Step Six: (Smaller wings don’t need this but if you want to add it then go ahead!)
Take your wire hanger and bend it out so it’s the same shape of the wing that will be the closest to your back. Glue the wire down about 7 inches down from the tip of the wing. Most of the support is needed in the middle, and bottom of the wing.
Let some of the wire hang out of the bottom about four inches so you can connect the harness.
Step Seven
Roll out the cellophane to go over the wings. One piece for each side. Spray adhesive to the wing first and then gently place the cellophane over it. I recommend having someone help you with this part because adhesive is a pain when something goes wrong.
Do this for both the big wing, and the smaller one. Make sure the cellophane is over the wing evenly. Pat out any bubbles it may have.
Step Eight:
When both sides have cellophane on it take your iron and make sure it’s on a low setting. You don’t want it to burn or melt the cellophane. Gently go over the wing, and even it out as much as possible. There will be some bubbles, and such but think of it being more realistic.
Step Nine:
Cut off any excessive cellophane but leave some near the veins and by the wire. If it’s to short the cellophane will come apart. We left little less then half an inch.
Step Nine:
Take the adhesive to glue the little wing to the bigger one. You want to make sure you glue it on the inside.
Step Ten:
Use another wire hanger and bend it into a rectangle. Wire hanger is tough to bend so you’re going to have to use your inner strength. Cut off any excess wire with a wire cutter. Cover it with electrical tape so it becomes sturdier.
 Step Eleven:
Line up the wing wire with the harness wire at the spot where it’s needed. Take the wing and connect it to the harness. Using electrical tape to keep the two of them together. Cut off an excess wire so it doesn’t dig into the wearers back.
Alas you have fairy wings!! I hope this helps a bit T-T Have fun!
Tip: You may have to cut a slit in the back of your outfit for the wings to slip into. Wearing a bra helps because it goes underneath it.
dougforbes:

Inspiration Reference
simple reference tools make a great amount of difference.
This dragon doesn’t want your princess, it wants your queen