Have you ever wished to be an illustrator and create unique characters? Have you ever consider the possibility that maybe you can do it if you put the work? Have you ever thought you’re not old enough? No, right? But probably you have felt you’re too old for this, or are too scared or, worse; you think you’re not good enough. Well, I understand, because that’s how I felt a few months ago when I decided I wanted to learn to create characters. I mean to start learning about character design and become an illustrator.
I know how it is like to be limited by your own minds (I am an expert on this 😉 ). Like most creative people, we tend to think “outside the box” but we also tend to limit ourselves by society and its rules (which is inevitable given we are part of the society too). And that’s ok. It happens, and eventually, we wake up and realize anyone can do whatever he/she wants as long as is willing to put the work and effort to accomplish it. And that’s exactly what most of us are not willing (or scared) to do or admit. Are you one of us? I know even after months of practicing, I am still one of them. So, no shame intended.
Now, when creating characters (doing characters design), some of the fears we usually have before we even try to start are merely concerns created by our minds. Other times is society, our families, our friends or the simple fact of not believing in ourselves (thinking that for example, we are not even worth the try). And that affects us as creative people and makes us unnecessarily unhappy.
So, before I start rambling with stories, let me tell you what I have learned in my journey of creating character design. I am no expert, but I’ve learned few things:
- Overcome self-doubt. For example with stuff like: Am I good enough? Should I try? Am I too old? Am I too young? Is it too risky? Is it too late? And basically any other question you ask yourself which has a “too” or a question mark before you start. Leave behind all of that and tell your mind that it has nothing to worry about. After all, you are “just trying to draw.”
- Change the belief called “I am not good enough”. That’s a sin most of us are guilty of believing (if it’s not a sin, it should be). The way I stopped thinking I was not good enough and I did not deserve to be happy and live by doing what I love, was putting that phrase on my wall, really big and visually loud, which says: “I am good enough“. I read it every day when I start work. I also wrote it in every mirror I have. Just as a reminder that I am good enough.
- You need to start facing the blank empty page, and actually, start with the practice. And even if it is not as good as you expected, continue doing it the next day. Every day is a new battle we must win our worst enemy (ourselves).
- Stop comparing yourself to others, and that’s if you managed to start, draw, sketch or do the practice. Just stop comparing yourself to other people. Of course, the people you admire (in my case for example Frannerd or AndreaGa), are going to be awesome. But they were not when they started. And that’s kind of the point with starting: Becoming better every day.
Now, what can you do to start with character design?
- Find a mentor or hire a teacher, who shows you character design’s basics. Personally, it was not a very pleasant experience because I am a self-learner. In class, I couldn’t concentrate, draw or think as I usually do, but maybe it’ll work for you.
- Invest in online courses. You can learn illustration, character design and other topics. In my case, I bought them in different platforms: Domestika.org and Crehana.com (Spanish), also Society of Visual Storytelling (English).
- Practice daily. Pick a topic and work until you’re satisfied with the sketch. Practice is for at least for 60 minutes a day, which is a lot better than doing it for 4 or 5 hours on the weekend.
- Learn continuously. Use youtube, blogs, and other materials from people who have already “made it” as an illustrator or who are experts in character design. Follow them on social media and study their illustration style, see what you can learn from them (this is usually free).
- Create challenges for yourself. You can participate in events such as Inktober, but you could also decide drawing or creating some characters with a different subject every month. For example, March: Disney characters, April: Animals and so on.
- Choose the best time to practice. In my case, the best time is Evening – Night. Usually, mornings (super early), or afternoons are for writing. And after I draw, I try to learn something new. Whatever time you decide to practice is up to you.
- Have fun. If you decide to start with illustration and character design, do not be so hard on yourself. Keep in mind everyone has its learning process. Stress is just going to leave you very frustrated and paralyzed. And then you’ll probably give up before even start, which is not ok. So, have some fun!
- Track your progress and see how you did things before and how you’re doing them now. Remember: comparing yourself with your past self is OK, compare yourself to others is not. Keep that in mind.
Hope you find the info useful and start with this fantastic challenge! I’m still learning, but as I’ve followed the steps above, I’ve been able to become better. 🙂
I wish you an amazing journey full of character design, illustration and dreams come true!