My comic characters’ faces lack variety – can you help?
Abi Thorne, England
When drawing unusual or particularly characterful facial types, I find it important to have a strong understanding of the underlying anatomy, as my ability to convincingly exaggerate elements of this will govern the legitimacy of my characters. So I have reference material, such as anatomical diagrams on hand to cover any of the gaps in my knowledge.
I look up images of celebrities whose faces seem to match the character type I’m aiming for most closely, and study the dominant shapes in their faces. However, I try not to base my design too closely on one person, as a noticeable resemblance to a familiar figure may bring the reader out of the fiction of the story and compromise the character’s own unique identity. So I draw from elements of different sources, because noticing the commonalities and the differences in my chosen models helps me understand what the core elements that define the character are.
By building up enough knowledge of the foundations of facial geography, I can choose precisely which elements to keep generic and which to make distinct, to better define only the things about the character that I wish to communicate.
Emphasising different, key aspects of the face can create a variety of convincing characters, so long as the fundamentals of form and anatomy are maintained.