This week is about illustrating characters and discovering those that feel personal.
Have you ever wanted to draw a face or a figure that would really touch your heart? I don’t only mean something that looks pretty on paper but someone that begins to speak to you when your eyes meet.
Starting from an Animal Figure
In the class Magical Inkdom, I mention the word “kissanukke” when we are drawing cats. Kissanukke is “cat doll” in English, but somehow I think it’s much funnier in Finnish. Say: kissanukke! The word is just hilarious.
Last week, I wondered why I think about that word so often. Maybe it’s a hint I should draw cats again. So, I picked a big smooth watercolor paper and a pencil to sketch a huge cat. I wanted to go big because I wanted the cat’s face to be large enough for working on facial features. I adjusted them for a long time with a pencil, and then with colored pencils. I wanted this kissanukke to be more than a doll – a living thing that speaks to me.
I love to use thick and smooth watercolor paper with colored pencils even when I don’t use water for the drawing.
When the paper is big, it’s easy to dive deep into details and let them make the drawing more whimsical than the original sketch.
What’s Behind the Animal?
When Kissanukke was born, I asked her: “Who are you?” She said: “I am a hunter, and I can bring you anything you want!” I smiled at her: “What a magical cat you are, with the golden egg and all!” “I had two,” she said, “but the other one got missing when I tried to catch the geese. And I am no cat but a lion!”
Of course, she is a lion – how did I not see that before! I used to be a big fan of Joy Adamson and her lion Elsa as a child. No wonder my inner child has kept asking for cats!
Discovering Through a Different Pose
So, I thought, let’s draw another leijonanukke – lion doll – for the child. This time, I changed the pose so that the character would only need to glance sideways and wished that a shyer creature would appear.
“Are you a hunter too?” I asked when discovering the new character. “No, I am an orchid whisperer! Shhh!”
One of my orchids just stopped blooming, and I am eagerly waiting another to bloom. So, there’s a need for her too!
Whisperer is smaller than Hunter. The small size also makes her look less finished in the pics. If you need to provide a hand drawing in a digital form, always draw larger than the asked size. The result looks neater that way.
Discovering a Human Character
This week, I went to the studio and gathered all the courage I got. “Hunter,” I said, “could you bring me a human that really touches my heart.”
And that’s how this little country girl came out – a true nature child!
I didn’t use any references when drawing the girl and the cats. A reference can help us draw what’s expected but not what comes out naturally. References are great practice, and during the years, I have been practicing with them too. For example, in the class Innovative Portraits, we draw faces and use references creatively. But when discovering a character that feels like a soul mate, references become disturbing. Then it’s all about the connection with your inner self, traveling back in time for inspiration and forward in imagination.
Digital Pencil Work
I drew the girl on my iPad with Apple Pencil and the program called Procreate. I got these fancy tools as a birthday gift from my husband in February but have been waiting for the right moment to get to know them.
So far, I have mostly been using a simple digital brush called “Peppermint” that imitates a graphite pencil.
I will blog more about Procreate later, so it would be interesting to hear if you have used it. Also, if you have any questions, please let me know! However, if you are not into digital tools, don’t worry, I will keep on drawing with real pencils too!