Illustrating character sheets

I’m always looking for fun ways to keep track of my stories and the characters within them. One of my favorite ways to keep track of characters is to give them a character sheet in my book planner. But page after page of text can be kind of boring, even if it means everything is neatly organized. So, I figured… I’m an artistic person, why not do something about it?

So new character sheets came into development. They still have the pertinent info written out in text, but now there’s a space for a picture of the characters themselves. While I’ve done character portraits in the past, I decided to try something new, matching the bright colors and cute themes I have going in my planners.

I’d attempted to draw chibi (which is slang for short or, sometimes, little in Japanese) versions of my characters before. It never ended well–I couldn’t ever make things look the way they did in my head. But I figured the chunky, big-headed and big-eyed look would be perfect for my character sheets, even if they weren’t a terribly mature choice. The characters would be under three inches tall on their bio sheets, so a more realistic style would have left them with indiscernible features. There was no harm in trying, so I gave it a shot.

Even though their story isn’t written yet, I started with Laele and Arrios. Instead of struggling to make my characters as tiny and fat as the ones I liked, I decided to make them a bit bigger. The change in style seemed to work well for me, and they were a lot of fun. As I worked on them in my sketchbook, I decided it would be fun to draw their inventory, too–so I started adding items. Some of Laele’s inventory took cues from her Ragnarok Online incarnation; that bottle wasn’t supposed to look so much like Starsand. For Arrios, I added things I thought he might use as an adventurer–a water skin, treasure map, travel journal, and treasure he’d found along the way.

Though I liked the result, I felt the traditional ink outlines were too heavy and grainy for what I ultimately wanted, so I decided the further installments would be digitally inked and perfected that way. Naturally, I tackled drawing Rune and Firal next, complete with inventory items of things they possess in their stories. While I’ve only finished Rune, I think he turned out super:

I’m looking forward to tackling Firal’s coloring next, but it may be a little while before I get to it. I’ve got multiple paperbacks to proof and revise, a story to finish editing, a story to re-publish, and a story that needs to be written from the ground up. But it’s been an enjoyable little exercise, and it’s nice to draw again after letting my artistic skills rust for so long.

Plus, just for fun, I recorded the coloring of Rune’s sheet so I could share it. Why not check it out?

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