How can I make my elf char­ac­ter fit in with her en­vi­ron­ment?

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Jes­sica Ball­ston, Eng­land

An­swer

Me­lanie replies

Start by con­sid­er­ing the en­vi­ron­ment you want to de­pict. For my char­ac­ter de­sign, I chose to move away from the typ­i­cal for­est elf theme and draw an elf who lives in a snowy en­vi­ron­ment.

Then I re­search ex­ist­ing cul­tures and tribes who liv­ing in a sim­i­lar en­vi­ron­ment to the fan­tasy char­ac­ter I want to pic­ture, such as the North Amer­i­can Inuit. I gather ref­er­ences for cloth­ing, weaponry and other rel­e­vant de­tails, then an­a­lyse how the tribes use nat­u­ral re­sources such as fur, leather and bones.

The next step is to sketch a typ­i­cal and dy­namic ges­ture that will fit the en­vi­ron­ment you want to put your char­ac­ter in. Make sure that you don’t copy your ref­er­ence sources whole­sale.

Dur­ing the paint­ing process, I con­sider suit­able light­ing schemes and how the en­vi­ron­ment and the pro­fes­sion of the char­ac­ters might af­fect the colours of her de­sign. I use bluish colours to in­di­cate the cold tem­per­a­tures, and fair colours to merge the char­ac­ter with the back­ground be­cause I imag­ine that she’s a hunter. Then I make a tight draw­ing to check if my idea of the de­sign works, be­fore adding colours.

When paint­ing an elf, al­ways make sure to show the ears, even if head­gear would make bet­ter sense! In­spire yourself by look­ing at fash­ion col­lec­tions or your favourite fan­tasy art. Think about in­ter­est­ing

shapes and pat­terns.

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