Character Design

Usually, when first designing characters, I go through many drafts before I start to feel like I’m capturing their ‘essence’.  However occasionally it doesn’t take so long.  Just recently I’ve been developing some characters for a junior adventure novel I’ve written, and because the characters have been sitting in my head for so long (and developing as I wrote the first draft) when I sat down to draw them they sprung onto the page almost fully formed.  Of course, they’re likely to still change and grow as I draw them more, but I’m reasonably happy with how they’re going.

When trying to capture the essence of a character, I try to focus on their personality and think about how this would influence all the little things about them.  Such as:

  1. Their stance: do they slouch, stand up perfectly straight, bounce, balance on one leg, stand on their hands, cross their arms, hands on hips, stand with feet planted firmly on the ground?
  2. Their expression: do they smile lots, frown, scowl, constantly look a little amused, easily become agitated or bored?
  3. Their hair: is it messy, impossible to tame, neat, long, short, curly, straight?  Hair is one of the first things we notice about a person, and it strongly influences how readers assess a character’s personality
  4. Their clothes: are they neatly dressed, scruffy, wearing a perfectly matched outfit or one with competing patterns, wearing traditional or modern clothes, clothes from a specific culture or region?  The clothes people chose to wear say a lot about their personality

I’m sure I’ve missed some.  Please chime in if you have others!  Below are some of the early sketches:

2009-03-13a

2009-03-13b

2009-03-13d

2009-03-13c

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7 Responses to “Character Design”


  1. 1 Sheryl Gwyther March 14, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    They wouldn’t be for the Peru book, would they? Their personalities are coming through in the drawings.
    And that’s a good list to refer to when thinking of building up a character too. :)

  2. 2 Katherine Battersby March 14, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    They are indeed for the Peru book, Sheryl!

  3. 3 duckofalltrades March 21, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Wow, what great sketches and great ideas to think about when creating characters! Thanks for sharing your character design process.

  4. 5 Madeline Stephenson March 25, 2009 at 6:54 am

    I agree!


  1. 1 Fattening up your Characters « the Well Read Rabbit || Katherine Battersby Trackback on February 5, 2010 at 10:12 am
  2. 2 Say Cheese… « the Well Read Rabbit || Katherine Battersby Trackback on April 10, 2010 at 8:46 am

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About this Blog…

A blog of ramblings about the world of writing and illustrating for children, by an author / illustrator who might just have a thing for rabbits.

Katherine's picture books, 'Squish Rabbit' and 'Brave Squish Rabbit', are out with Viking (Penguin, US) and UQP (Australia). Please e-mail if you would like her to blog about something in particular.

All text & images  Katherine Battersby

Released Sept 2012:

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