CAP 101 - Concept & Character Development

Lesson 3 - Using Perspective, Drawing Humans, and Drawing Creatures


This lesson introduces the student to drawing characters based on three-quarter profile. Objectives important to this lesson:

  1. Drawing three-quarter view
  2. The use of perspective
  3. Drawing humans, animals, and mythical creatures

In chapter three, Creating Characters with Personality describes creating different views of your characters that fit together. Once you imagine your characters from the front, the back, and the side, you should also be able to combine those ideas to draw them in three-quarter view, also called a three-quarter profile. This is a view, as shown in the text, that allows the viewer to see most of the front view, and most of one side view of a subject. Examine this drawing from the Louvre, showing a complicated view of a model's front, a bit of the left side of the body, and the right side and front of the face. The pose may have hurt.

A three-quarter view gives much more of a three dimensional feel than an orthographic view. In animation, it is a necessary view of any character who you expect to turn on the screen. (Unless you are animating South Park.)

Assignment 5: Make a three-quarter view drawing of one of your characters. Use the sketches you have made before for source material and create a new sketch for this assignment. This assignment will not be used this term. -- Steve Vincent, October 12, 2009.

In chapter five, Creating Characters with Personality describes drawing animal characters. The discussion called Choose the Nature of Your Beast can be compared to the Character Hierarchy discussion in the first chapter. Mr. Bancroft describes a spectrum of styles for drawing an animal character, running from Realistic to Anthropomorphic (shaped like a man). Consider his levels of realism:

  • Realistic - This is a character drawn to look as much like a real animal as possible. Its animated motion and behavior should be as realistic as possible, or the audience may not accept the character. Think of Aslan, in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
  • Feature film - This character still has a great deal of realism, but has a few human features incorporated in the face. Eyes, eyebrows, and mouth may be used to show human-style expressions. Think about the lions in Disney's Lion King.
  • Simplified - This character has fewer details, less shading, and is less complicated than the two above. Mr. Bancroft suggests that this character may gesture like a human, although it will still walk like the animal it is based on.
  • Cartoon - This character crosses the barrier to most human behaviors. Think of all the Hanna-Barbera characters that walked and talked like humans, sometimes wore some clothing, and acted like people, not like animals.
  • Anthropomorphic - This character is a human based on an animal. Look for erect posture, hands instead of paws, less detail than ever, and only a superficial resemblance to the original animal it was based on.

Whichever level of reality you are trying to achieve, you will want to think about the anatomy of the base animal, the source material for your character. How do the legs move when walking, running, and sitting? How does the body move when this animal does something? You are creating a new character, so you can create some new rules for it, but how far do you go from the actual animal?

Even in the Cartoon and Anthropomorphic cases, you still have to decide on a logical skeleton and muscle structure for the animal. Did you ever watch how Yogi Bear walked? (Not the way he ran. That was usually an exaggerated blur.) It was a little different from one cartoon to another, but there was an internal consistency in the character: He was always drawn as walking more like a man than like a bear, and his legs moved in logical ways, based on his shape. Watch the cartoon linked above, to see several examples of stance and consistent animation of movement.

Mr. Bancroft discusses making animal characters cute. He has discussed the concepts before, in the chapter on female characters. His recommendations to get a cute character:

  • larger head and eyes than reality would provide
  • smaller body and tail
  • standard shapes for effect: round, square, triangular (as needed)

Assignment 6:
1. Search the Internet for appropriate animal character examples of each of the types above. For the sake of variety, let's avoid lions. Save some jpg or gif images, along with URL references for those images in a Word document. Turn the file in to me by the start of week 4.
2. Find some reference material for dogs and for horses. Create sketches for the animal characters Carrots and Ruthie, based on your source material, not on the sketches at the end of chapter 5. To get you started, here are some images of horses, and here are some images of dogs.

The course syllabus says we should look at some of the material in chapter seven at this point to consider "mythical" creatures. This chapter was written by a guest author, Rob Corley. It is about combining ideas to make creatures that do not occur in nature. Even when making a monster, a mythic creature, or a technological character, it makes sense to follow Mr. Corley's advice about anatomy. You can't know how to make a creature move consistently until you know how it is put together, where it bends, and what source to model it on.

The objective for this part of the lesson is to add tails, wings, and other parts not usually included on a creature. Think about it based on what we have covered already:

  1. Think about the parts the creature will have. For example, let's draw a pegasus. That's just a horse with wings.
  2. Choose source material to model your character from. Find a source for your horse, and a source for the wings.
  3. Make some accommodation to combine the source material into one character. Figure out where to attach the wings, make a decision about how they work and stick with it. Is this fantasy, myth, or science fiction? You need different levels of realism for each.