You’re probably looking at grouchy fellow at the top of the page, and wondering who on earth he is.
Well, you need wonder no longer!
His name is Lord Roshbel, and he’s an OC — an original character — from a fanfic series I wrote called StarBright, which was based off the lovers’ storyline in Super Paper Mario.
I’ve currently forgotten his surname, though I’m sure I gave him one back when I was writing him. However, that was a long time ago.
A very long time ago.
In case you’re wondering why Roshbel is glaring at us today, it’s because at the time when I drew him, I learnt quite strongly for the first time an important art lesson.
What do I mean by that? Well, let me show you the first drawing I ever attempted to make of Roshbel:
Yeah. Something wasn’t quite working. He didn’t look the way I wanted him to in my head. And it was annoying me.
Really annoying me.
I’m a terrible perfectionist, and while I don’t think that’s necessarily a good thing, or would recommend anyone else to be so inclined, I knew I wasn’t happy with that picture. It wasn’t right. It wasn’t truly Roshbel, you know what I mean?
Lord Roshbel was one of my more prominent antagonists. He was a grouchy old nobleman, set in his ways, who hated my main character with a passion. And yet he was also fair to his own people, and kind to his family, despite his strictness to anyone else.
I wanted him to look intimidating, imposing. Ominous and strict. And the first picture I drew … well, it almost looked too cute.
I could have settled, though. Decided I couldn’t be bothered trying again, that it was ‘good enough.’
But I didn’t. Because it wasn’t Roshbel. Not the way I imagined him.
I turned to a how-to book I had — Mastering Manga by Mark Crilley.
In this book, Mark Crilley gives a step by step lesson on how to draw elderly characters. He also gives an example page of various older character types — just what I was looking for, as I was struggling because I wasn’t used to drawing anyone older than middle-aged.
There was one drawing in particular that helped me design Roshbel — an old man with glasses, hollow cheeks, and a fierce scowl.
I also drew inspiration from a character from the animated movie Ballerina — the dance teacher who is highly sarcastic. His personality reminded me of Roshbel’s, so I borrowed ideas from his design. Anyone who’s watched that movie can probably detect the resemblance …😅
So, by looking to experienced artists for guidance and using a different character for reference, I was able to hit much more accurately my vision for Roshbel. This time, the picture definitely was Roshbel.
In Conclusion …
I’m still really happy with this drawing. It captured what I wanted Roshbel to look like, with all his sternness and disapproving scowl. He just looks so unimpressed it’s funny! But I never would have got to this drawing if I’d settled on the first one.
I want to really encourage all you artists out there: if you don’t feel happy with the way your character looks, then don’t settle. Try again. Find a reference picture. Watch a tutorial on the type of character you’re drawing.
Try multiple iterations, different designs. (For me, I changed Roshbel’s hairstyle and opted for slightly more realistic proportions.)
But make sure you’re happy with way your character looks.
It’s easy to feel pressured, like you don’t have time to try again, but anyone who loves your characters will be grateful if you spend extra time getting them right. And you’ll be grateful to yourself.
Cause a drawing of your character that captures their exact essence is epic. And you will feel so satisfied with it.
What about you, Storykeepers? Have you ever been tempted to settle on your character’s design, even though you weren’t happy with it? How did you solve the problem? Let me know in the comments below!