Let’s face it; without illustration, we would have experienced the wonderful journey of Alice and the fascinating the world of Wonderland. Where Alice was the key character in that illustrated storybook, Cheshire cat is probably one of the most popularized fictional animal characters to exist.
Come to think of it, most of the illustrated books are filled with animal characters, be it the lead character or a sidekick. From the famous honey-loving and popular bear named Winnie the Pooh to the ever-loyal dog of Grinch named Max, animal characters play a pivotal role in making the illustrated story more engaging and interesting. However, in children’s book illustration, the important aspect of visual appeal without which the book might even make it to the hands of the children.
There’s no denying that it is because of the visual appeal that we are able to remember and easily recall the characters which made our childhood enjoyable. However, capturing that appeal and integrating it in character is the actual challenge faced by numerous illustrators and artists. One of the most crucial aspects of illustrating animal character is to present that visual appeal in a way, which makes it easier for the readers and audience to relate and connect with the character.
One of the foundational parts of designing a character is to have a comprehensive idea about the back-story of that character. It not only helps in coming up with the right design for illustration; rather, it also helps the illustrator in the visualization of the entire plot and storyline.
Drafting and realizing the animal character in different dimensions, creating plausibility and the right atmosphere requires the right illustrative skillset and thorough practice. Since the dimensions and features of the animal characters vary more than human characters, putting together every part and essential feature while maintaining the context of the story can be a daunting task for many illustrators. To assist you in that we have selected some of the useful and tried and tested tips and tricks to elevate the visual appeal of your illustrated animal characters:
1. Silhouettes and shapes to charm the readers:
Think of Winnie the Pooh as not-so-cuddly-and-cute; you can’t! The character was supposed to have adorable traits cheerful personality. It all comes down to the way an illustrator designs the character. Shapes and forms play a crucial role in not only determining the appearance of the character; rather, it also reflects the attributes and personality traits of the characters. If you are drawing an elephant as cute as little Horton, then it is preferable to go for rounded and curved shapes and forms to reflect the cuteness throughout the character.
Another good example would be of Vlad the vulture of Horton hears who. The character had sharply edged and angled shapes and forms to tell the audience about who the real villain is. Selecting the right shapes and form not only highlight the qualities of the character; rather, it also sets the right visual appeal for the targeted audience and potential viewers and readers.
2.Humanize your not-so-human characters:
Once you are done with deciding on the shapes and forms of the animal character, the next big target is to pinpoint the features and attributes that can be made human-like. Humanizing your animal character makes it easier for the audience and viewers to relate and get associate with the character. Polishing the features like eyes and mouth not only translate and convey the message and emotion correctly, but it also helps in building a connection with the reader and viewer. Another good approach would be to design the character’s hand with human-like proportions and features. Gesticulation is one of the most human things any animal character can do and giving your character humanized paws and claws can deliver the emotions and subtle message effectively.
3.Exaggerating different attributes and details:
Apart from the humanized features and attributes, the overall anatomy and design of the character are equally important. Using shapes and forms that go well with the personality and appeal of the character is what makes the character stand out and stick to the reader’s mind and memory. Make sure to keep the details realistic and don’t overwhelm the personality and appearance with exaggerated details and features.
The idea of visual appeal is still a subjective one since every illustrator has a different set of preferences and design concepts. Even though these three elements are not the only factors to consider, using and practicing them can help you to think differently and come up with innovative design approaches.