Thursday, April 14, 2011

Character Design

Speaking from experience I can tell you that designing characters takes a great deal of skill. Not only must the artist have a strong working knowledge of the human figure but expertise in color theory and application, composition, lighting, clothing and folds, the ability to recreate textures and surfaces in 2D and a firm grasp of the elements and principles of design such as balance, form, movement, etc.

It’s difficult enough to design characters on paper or canvas. To create characters on the computer takes a whole new level of skill. It’s true that most painting and/or photo editing programs offer various brush simulations, wide palettes of color and simulated surfaces to paint upon, but, it’s also true that painting on a computer is vastly different than painting on canvas.

The artist must have the ability to work in layers, understand the difference between screen color and print color (RGB versus CMYK), how colors change when translated from print to screen, screen resolution, pixel weight, how paper effects color and on and on.

Many artists, like myself, prefer to sketch out our designs on paper and scan them in to use as a template. Others create directly on the screen-something I have difficulty doing and am amazed by those artists that can.

There’s an old saying when it comes to computers, “Garbage in, garbage out.” An artist, and I stress the word artist, must have the necessary skills to draw, paint, compose and complete a piece of art, be it character design or something else. If not, the best computers and programs in the world will not turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse. It takes skill and talent and that’s just what you’ll see in the new Character Design book from Ballistic Publishing.

The soft bound book is contained in a hard slipcase that is part of Ballistic’s d’artiste Digital Artists Master Class series. Be prepared to be amazed as some of the world’s most talented digital artists share their drawing and painting secrets in a series of step-by-step tutorials, complemented by informative text from the artists, and show you how they go about conceptualizing and finalizing their own unique character designs.

What makes this book so fascinating is that, besides the gorgeous illustrations and paintings, is that you get to witness actual works being completed stage-by-stage.

Some artists sketch on paper, some on computer. Some work on multiple layers, other use a minimum of stages. Others lay down flats of color while others prefer to jump in with full palettes. Regardless of what technique an artist uses each produce stunning work and you are invited to come along for the ride.

This is what art is all about-the creative process. Half the fun is getting to the final product. Speaking for myself I enjoy putting a piece together just as much as seeing the final product. I highly recommend this book for any young artist who is delving into digital art. It’s an excellent resource on how it's done and demonstrates the level of work that is expected in the industry.

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