Sketchbook Ideas – Sketching People with Stephen Silver

Stephen Silver gives his insight on drawing people and creative character design. He’s currently raising money for his new book. Support his kickstarter at:

Silver has designed characters for Disney Television Animation, Sony Feature Animation and Nickelodeon Animation, designing the style of the shows such as “Kim Possible”, “Danny Phantom”, Kevin Smith’s “Clerks” the animated series, and many more.

Check out Stephen’s portfolio here


Sketchbook Ideas – Sketching People with Stephen Silver

Sketchbook Ideas – Bodies in Motion – Scott Eaton

These series of photographs have been captured by artist, designer and photographer Scott Eaton. These are just a sample of the several projects that he has undertaken.

The entire works are to be compiled together in a single website that will launch in September.

These are fantastic reference to practice your life drawing, anatomy study sketches, and to help inform your animation skills.

For added complexity to a sketching exercise and to challenge your ability to visualise the human form, take a pose of the subject and then attempt to sketch it from a different angle or perspective than that captured through the camera.

Visit Eaton’s own website here, and in September go to the bodies in motion website for some amazing reference for animation here

Scott Eaton’s work focuses on the form, motion and anatomy of the human figure. He s one of the pioneering artists in the field of digital sculpture and his work combines traditional sculpting techniques with the power of modern digital tools. Scott’s art and designs have been featured in Wired Magazine, Vogue, Vanity Fair, the Times, the Telegraph, and can be found in Harrods and other design shops around the world.

Sketchbook Ideas – Bodies in Motion – Scott Eaton

Sketchbook Ideas – Inktober 2015

Every October, artists all over the world take on the Inktober drawing challenge by doing one ink drawing a day the entire month.

InkTober was initiated in 2009 by illustrator Jake Parker and has grown year after year, into a worldwide endeavor with thousands of artists taking on the challenge every year.


1.Make a drawing in ink (you can do a pencil under-drawing if you want).

2. Post it on your blog (or tumblr, instagram, twitter, facebook, flickr, Pinterest or just pin it on your wall.)

3. Hashtag it with #inktober

4. Repeat


Jake Paker

Gabriel Picolo

Kerby Rosanes

Mark McDonnel

Eduardo Vieira

Sketchbook Ideas – Inktober 2015

Sketchbook Ideas – Character Shapes

An excellent exercise to allow for some creative character designs is to experiment with building the underlying structure from unique silhouettes.

By being tied to using the basic shape underneath it forces us to think about the type of body and personality that might suit for the final character.

Practice generating full characters from as many different body shapes as possible, and experiment between male and female forms.

What is most important is that you remember your characters need physical form and volume, so although the initial starting shape maybe a 2d shape, you need to add dimension to your design otherwise your character will feel flat and lifeless.


You can also apply the same techniques to the head.


This is also an exercise to be found in Disney films where shape theory has been studied an utilised to support the personality of the character, and help define a unique and identifiable silhouette on screen.

Sketchbook Ideas – Character Shapes

Sketchbook Ideas: Facial Construction

Let’s focus our sketches this time on the face of our characters. Having correct facial proportion and anatomy understanding is essential when it comes to animation.

Although you might have a great performance animated, if the audience is questioning the actual structure and placement of the facial features they are no longer paying attention to your story.

Work from constructing basic 3d shapes to ensure correct volume, and draw multiple views of the face from may angles. Also try to sketch from life as much as possible, if you can capture it quickly out in the world you can elaborate on the sketch later.

Progress to working with extreme shapes, with various styles. This exercise should produce some very interesting characters quickly, but remember the placement and proportions are key.

Cartoons follow their own guidelines on proportions based on what personality, age or style the character is being portrayed.


Drawing a Head From Imagination

Facial Proportions for Cartooning with Peter Emslie Parts 1 & 2


Andrew Loomis’ Book ‘Drawing the Head and Hands’

How to Draw Caricatures; The 5 Shapes


Sketchbook Ideas: Facial Construction

Sketchbook Ideas: Gesture Drawing

Gesture drawing should be a constant source of study for animators, as having strong poses that describe the personality of the character or the action itself is the key to a great performance.

When studying a life subject you can range the amount of time that you spend on each drawing, however you want to be able to describe a pose quickly allowing the motion to flow from your pencil.

Having good gesture drawing skills is also essential for 3d animators, as when it is all completely rendered and shown on the cinema screen you still are left with a 2D image (unless you are watching in 3d).

The principles still apply, and strong poses bring your characters to life.

Carefully observe the pose, but then think of what the motion of the action is and the emotion of the character. Then think how can the limitations of life be enhanced in my pose to better reflect and describe what I want to show the audience.

Feel, as well as see the gesture.

Ryan Woodward, who we have featured previously on this blog, has a book dedicated to gesture and figure drawing which you can find here.

You can also check out our previous blog post on his animation “Thought of You” here

Another book to consider reading is “The Art & Feel of Making it Real: Gesture Drawing for the Animation and Entertainment Industry” by Mark McDonnel, which you can buy here

Sketchbook Ideas: Gesture Drawing

Sketchbook Ideas: Human Proportion & Simplification

Building from our look at object deconstruction, let’s turn our attention to applying this to the human body. Look at taking each part of the human form and simplifying it down to basic 3d primitives to allow you to construct the body with accurate volumes at speed.

As animators, it is important that we can draw the body quickly so that we can then focus on bringing the character to life, by focusing on the movement and personality.

Research into the proportions of the average human male and female, so that when it comes to generating characters they look and feel lifelike.

This exercise will also ensure that from pose to pose, you can consider the length of each part of the body, keeping volume across the animation.


The final image is taken from Andrew Loomis’ “Figure Drawing For All It’s Worth”




Sketchbook Ideas: Human Proportion & Simplification