Thursday, April 20, 2017

Sketch-play/Character development- By Deborah Cuneo

Dog Characters-Development Sketches

While I love all aspects of being an illustrator, my most favorite part is creating visual characters. And for me, because I tend to be my most creative while I'm multitasking, character development always starts with a lot of  random "note taking" and short bursts of sketch-play. 

As soon as I get a project, I immediately commit the list of potential characters to my brain, so I'll remain subliminally mindful of that list at all times. Inspiration for the characters often strikes in fits and spurts and always at the most random, inopportune time, so I've gotten used to recording my reference information quickly. Sometimes, in the form of an artistic shorthand, usually on assorted pieces of loose papers, a couple of random notes in a notepad I keep in my purse or I'll snap a quick photo or two for reference. 
Met a New Friend at the Pet Store!

Later on, as I have little blocks of time, I gather up everything and do a little sketch-play based on my notes, which is simply allowing myself total freedom to draw "whatever", be silly and not worry if it's pretty or not.  It's the artistic equivalent of taking really sloppy, fast notes. This way, I build on all the bits and bobs of inspiration while the sparks are still fresh in my mind.


After a while of this sporadic, freestyle, sketchy-note taking, the character starts to reveal him or herself to me and I have my starting point.

Small dog character coming to life - Early stages

St Bernard dog character coming to life - Early stages

Doing it this way is not for everybody, but it fits my sometimes chaotic, creative state and gets the job done in spite of it! I'm really looking forward to getting to know these new "friends"!!


  1. I LOVE seeing process, Deborah! Thanks for sharing this :) These dogs are fantastic!

  2. Thank you WriterSideUp! I enjoy reading other people's process posts so I thought I'd share one of my own. Thanks for your kind words about the dogs too!!