Where have I been?

Well, friends, it has been a busy month. A vacation in March derailed my steady little blogging train, and my habits and routines have been all out of whack ever since. And then this past weekend was the Western Washington SCBWI Spring Conference, and I spent much of the prior two weeks preparing for it.

Here a couple of vacation sketches for your enjoyment. Just a little something to tide you over while I craft a longer post about the conference. Can you guess where we went?

honuakai_web

honuakai1a_web

Character Creation

{Previously published in the SCBWI Oregon Newsworthy under the title From the Drawing Board: Exploring Animal Characters}

Who doesn’t have a story gathering dust in a drawer? I recently pulled one out that I’d never created a dummy for, let alone submitted. The obstacle?  Though I know, deep down, that my main character wants to be an animal – a badger, to be precise – I’m inexperienced at creating critters that convincingly combine human and animal characteristics.

Inspired by Dan Santat’s talk at the SCBWI Western Washington Conference in 2011, I decided to give anthropomorphism a whirl. Cribbing his approach, I first explored character concepts from imagination; then drew from reference; and finally blended the two in a character who has real Character.

My first sketches generated costume and personality ideas, but didn’t convey Essence of Badger:

 

idea1

My sketches from reference made lovely wildlife drawings, but lacked individuality.

Badger_reference

Finally, armed with a new understanding of badger markings, anatomy, and proportions I ditched the photos and revisited my vision:

Badger_final

Progress! This guy feels like my character: a slightly anxious fellow whose limbs are flexible enough to gesture, but whose body and head feel truly badger-like. A true Character who can hold his own as I dummy up this book and send it out into the world.