Hello, this is my first time posting here and I am looking for a review of my character's design :
So, Laïla is at the very beginning of my story a sea captain. She's not really a fighter, more of a strategist, that's why I gave her a limited protection, plus armor and chainmail on a boat are not that great because they're heavy and if you fall into the sea they'll sink you right away. She wears the full outfit on the ground and takes off the chainmail and plate on the boat. Later on, magic is invented and quickly weaponized so armor becomes useless. Her home culture is loosely based on persian culture, so I loosely based some pieces of her costume on persian clothing, particularly her chest plate, with the traditional circular shape, and the pants.
Her second outfit is a court outfit, she creates during the story a powerful commercial empire, so this dress is made to show her power and wealth. That's what I tried to do by putting a lot of pearls on it, because pearls are in that culture (not the one she's from, the one she wants to impress) a sign of wealth because of their rarity. The shape of the dress is based on european fashion from the 1860s (for the shape of the skirt) and the 1890s-1900s (for the shape of the corset). The embroidery is based on Art Nouveau jewelry. This one isn't designed to be practical (it is not) but to impress. I chose the teardrop for a main shape, because it reminds me of those very big pearls you see sometimes, and because it is linked to the sea (drop=water), with her being a sea captain. Pearls are also linked to the sea, and are an important motif in her design.
About her palette, I first chose golden, because her eyes are golden (her name derivates from "d'or" which means "of gold" in french). Then I chose dark red, because I think it shows well her impetuous and kind of impulsive character. (please ignore the fact that I colored her clothing in light blue in the reference sheet, her design was slightly updated after I drew it.)
Sorry for the wall of text, any language mistakes that might have slipped in, and the lack of back view (it already took me seven hours to finish the front view and the back doesn't have anything special so I figured front view would suffice). Have a nice day !
What medium to do you intend to tell the story in and what exactly would you like critiqued about your design?
I think the essence of the character is solid but she could be more appealing. I'm just not sure exactly what to say to improve it because I don't know whether this is a character you want to animate or if this is a graphic novel, or what. You've obviously done your research as far as fashion goes and you seem to have a decent grasp on who your character is, which is great. The main issue I'm having is that her poses tend be to stiff and have an implication of someone who is interested mainly in gaining power, which may not be exactly what you intend, especially if this character is your protagonist. For example, in the third piece you've posted, from a technical standpoint her pose is really stiff and feels unnatural and from an emotional standpoint she seems as though she'll stop at nothing to take over the world.
In the second pose she seems more confident and inviting but she still has the look of someone who might use deception to gain the upper hand. If this is what you're going for then you're on the right track. If not, you may want to reconsider the body language and the facial expressions that you're using to describe her character. Why is she on the adventure she's on? What is her greatest passion, and what is her greatest flaw?
In any case, I'd suggest doing daily gesture drawings (drawing real people is of course always better but if you don't have access to any drawing sessions and you aren't comfortable with drawing strangers who will likely be in motion just yet then quickposes.com is a good place to start) and first consider the weight and the balance behind each pose and then consider the emotion behind each pose.
Good luck, I'm looking forward to seeing where you take this.
Thanks for your input ! This character is actually from my novel but I would like to do some illustration work for it, so she won't need to be drawn again and again and again (or else with all these pearls I would have clawed my eyes out straight away haha) but she has to look interesting enough that people will think "hey, the chick on that cover looks great, let's buy the book !" if that makes any sense to you !
And yes, I am aware that my poses are really stiff and I am currently working on it. The first and last piece are actually 6-9 months old, and I feel I've made progress on that front in the meantime, so there's that. I'll try and do more gesture drawing from now on, thanks for your advice.
The "taking over the world" bit is completely intentional, but it is far from the only aspect of her personality and she has reasons for this objective as well as other aspirations. I am unfortunately not sure how to go about showing these through my art, every attempt looks either very bland or curiously out of character, so I've always ended up scratching them and going for that same expression.
To add on to what KFAnderson said, here's some stuff that I think could help you-
1. Personality: The personality of the character doesn't seem to come through as strong as it could be in these drawings. You could use hand gestures. body gestures, facial expressions to enhance that. Especially hand gestures.
2.Costume: If you use patterns in the clothing appropriately, you can do create really amazing costume designs. Check Marko's character designs for example. Also your use of pear seems a bit too much to me specially without any variation. It seems that your design is based ONLY on pearls, I'd advise to vary it a bit. Look for modern fashion stuff done with pearls. Same with the 1890-1900's based costume design, I can really see that what it's supposed to be, but it's too realistic in my opinion. Spice it up. it's really apparent if you look at tv shows, movies & video games. Take 300 (the movie), Spartacus (tv series), Game of thrones (tv series) for example. All the costume designs of them are based of really old fashion, but they push it in a modern direction. All take note that you designs really lack dynamicness for the lack of asymmetry.
That's all I can say. These are just my opinion, so if you don't agree feel free to disregard. I really like what you're doing, just keep pushing.
Also study good character designer's work in details, think about why they made certain decisions. Also keep building strong fundamentals.
Keep up the good work, hoping to see more...
krysjez : Thank you, I think that weight correctly gives the idea of her being a bit old-fashioned, seeing as she ages over the course of the story and has a bit of a hard time adjusting to the progress of her society, so she sort of keeps these outdated garments that look expensive but absolutely out of fashion and being bottom-heavy has that kind of feeling I guess ! I try my best to give my characters real people proportions so I'm glad to see it pays off !
Punkhead : I will definitely work on pose and gesture in the future, do you please have a link to a gallery of Marko's work ? I'd love to check it out. I actually have an extensive reference folder for various ways of integrating pearls in clothing, both modern and historical, but I have a hard time finding a middle ground between having "too much" with the pearls and not enough because she really is a show-off and I feel she would willfully wear outfits that are "too much". I'll do some studies to try and add asymmetry to her design. Thanks for your advice !
That's cool that you're doing the illustrations for your own novel, Emissary. I think you have your work cut out for you from everything that's been said, but I have one more suggestion. Take a look at Color and Light by James Gurney, it'll teach you all about value and how light and shadow work. This still remains secondary to working out the posing and capturing the character's personality in the way that she carries herself but especially in novel illustrations capturing these values to add a bit more realism to the style can help.
Yuu-chan : yes, I am aware of that, as I said this is an older picture and a mistake I'd avoid now.
Punkhead : Thank you for sharing ! I see what you mean, I think adding some lace, ribbon or embroidery details instead of pearls would give more balance to the design, as well as some patterns to break the monotony.
KFAnderson : Thank you, I'll definitely check it out !