Character Construction

Step 1

First begin with a LINE OF ACTION(1). Keep it loose; it will help give your character a sense of movement and attitude.

The LINE OF ACTION should always be active. Avoid vertical lines — they are still and can make your character wooden.

Try a sweeping curve, a diagonal or horizontal LINE OF ACTION.

TIP: Use your whole arm to draw instead of just your wrist.

Step 2

Add some SIMPLE SHAPES to theLINE OF ACTION. Think of these shapes as three dimensional, i.e., as FORMS with depth (2).

TIP: Add axis lines like a wire frame to help you see the dimension.

Step 3

Build some STRUCTURE...
We now need to build someSTRUCTURE in our character. Draw simple lines for the structure of the arms and legs (3).

TIP: The hips are always attached across from each other and they are always opposite each other. If one is forward, the other is back. If one is up, the other is down.

TIP: Draw the structure lines for the arms off the top of the ball. Unlike the legs, the arms are independent of each other.

Step 4

Create forms around the line of structure for the arms and legs. Most of the time you will be using cylinders (4).

TIP: Experiment with different shapes of cylinders (4a). Curved lines against curves or, better yet, curved lines against straight lines form more dynamic and interesting shapes

Create forms around the line of structure...Experiment with different shapes of cylinders.

Step 5

Know which direction the cylinders face (5).

TIP: The neck is always on the front side of the body and not on the top of the shoulders (5a).

Know which direction the cylinders face.

Step 6

Finally, hang the clothes over the forms. The details are the last elements you add to a character design (6).

TIP: Work RUFF and LOOSE; it will add more action attitude and spontaneity to your designs.



  • Start with aLINE OF ACTION.
  • Define the character’sSTRUCTURE.
  • Add theFORMS.
  • Finish off with the clothes, fur, etc.
  • Details are added last.

  • Play with lots of designs.
  • Keep it RUFF and LOOSE.
  • Use Proportion and exaggerate the LINE OF ACTION andSHAPES.
  • Hey, play some more and have fun!!!