Sweet Jasmine, Nice Jackson

Twins were a bit difficult to keep track of. On top of making them look like they were growing up slowly from age two to age three, they had to look like family as well. It is harder than one would think drawing a character that looks the same over and over. Imagine the effort in a long comic book when you would have to draw someone a hundred times. Using particular traits like hair cut and clothing style helps but when it’s supposed to be a year going by you can’t have them wearing the same clothes in every picture!

text © Robie Harris/Bee Productions Inc.

Some artists use models and this clearly makes it easier to be consistent. But relying on models means you are stuck with what images you thought of originally or keep making appointments to sketch or photograph your model when you want a new pose. I prefer not to have the added complication of using live models so I can change things on a whim, or if the publisher or author requests a change. Some people are surprised when they hear you can draw people without models but it is not as hard as you would think. First, you do not use a pose you cannot make look right. And models can make the drawing look a little stiff or clinical like the people in an ad for auto parts or retirement funds or something.

You do end up relying on images in your head of friends and family or people you met that day or sketchbooks. There is a scene of a pediatrician’s waiting room in this book that is an example of the “crowd scene” challenge. There are about eight parents and children sitting on a bench. Whenever there is a group of people to draw I tend to make at least one person look like me, and then it’s amazing who else comes into my head: someone on a bus, someone from the coffee shop, someone I am going to see later. I can get carried away trying to make each person an individual with a life of his or her own.

One thing that’s hard for me is to come up with all the outfits – to dress people. I have a blind spot about clothing, but I am working on it. Making all the clothes colorful without being unrealistic can be tough. Most people wear pretty bland colored clothing these days and to be truly accurate it might make a boring picture. In a big crowd I often have people wearing outrageous color palettes so things look interesting.

Each two page spread needs to have a cohesive look, so that often dictates who gets purple pants or lime green shoes. It has to balance.

Text © Robie Harris/Bee Productions Inc.