How to get a “Head” Illustrating Characters

How to get a “Head” Illustrating Characters

Children’s book illustration has a number of challenges that most people probably never think about. I love the challenges that come with this type of project, like developing characters, how they react, and crafting their environments to tell the story that the writer is conveying on the page. I personally have worked as the illustrator, creative director, and project manager with clients on their books, apps, and videos over the years. In the upcoming months I’ll share some of my thoughts on how this process works for me and how I believe illustrators and writers can benefit from it. Learn more about my process here.

Character Heads

smileySounds simple enough…right? Artists often hear, “You can draw, just sketch it out, it’s easy right?” Some days it does come easier than others, but there’s a lot more to it than that. The final drawing may look simple but it might have taken weeks to make it look that way. For example, you may have gone through numerous sketches and revisions, and met with the client to make sure their vision is represented, all the while keeping true to your style as the illustrator. All of this time should be taken into consideration when putting together a quote or contract.

Most likely you’ll have to draw that head up to 32 times (for a standard children’s book) and you want it to look like the same character throughout. The image to the right shows character head sketches with blue lines, used to make sure facial features are consistent. Something as simple as moving an eye slightly to the left can change the character’s appearance. The more you draw the character the more natural it will be to repeat it. So the key is to draw, draw, draw. This character will be living with you for a while so you need to get to know it well and become its friend.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this post. Stay tuned for others in this series. Visit us at and my illustration site for more information about us.

These characters © Copyright 2016 Cindy Rodella-Purdy – managed by Creative Cat Media, Inc. – and will be used in an upcoming book by Herb Spanier – Never Tickle A Gorilla. All Rights Reserved.

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