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Advice for Character Consistency at Angles

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I was talking to an art friend of mine after having drawn a picture of one of my characters. I expressed to him while I think he looks good in that particular depiction, I was struggling to get the cuteness I got for him the very first time I drew it. This has happened before with a depiction of a girl I drew too. I got her facial structure as perfect as I wanted, but I could never emulate it at different angles in future attempts. And my friend's solution was so backwards and counter intuitive that was sensible.

He literally told me that at different angles to draw them...wrong.

Now obviously there's rules to follow and fundamentals to adhere to but the basic premise is that when you draw characters, it's important to balance believability (that's not a word), how something is "supposed" to be drawn VS. what works for your character; What needs to retain it's shape, placement, and angles as often as possible for your character to keep it's charm. And after thinking about it, it makes perfect sense.

Have a look at Mickey Mouse. His iconic shape is his near perfectly round head, and two big dinner plates for ears. He needs to look like that constantly to be instantly recognizable in all scenarios he's in. This must always be visible for Mickey. download.png.187ef435ecbd4734ee610e1d9e7f929f.png

It makes sense from the front, but watch what happens when he turns to the side. I'm sure you've noticed this...


Even his 3D appearances (which I'm actually curious how that's done)...


Even with his facial features, any official depiction of Mickey ensures his head retains that iconic shape as it's critical to his design and marketing. 

This also partly boils down to what's called silhouettes. Removing all features of a character, and making them a solid color, you should be able to tell immediately what or who they are based on their outline alone (that's not the complete purpose of this, but more on that another day). You can even see it in more "serious" cartoon characters. Like Goku. Goku's hair is instantly recognizable and if you were to see it alone, you will immediately know who it belongs to. This is his most important visual trait when it comes down his silhouette. If nothing else on him were available, you will still know this is Goku so long as his hair retains it's shape at all angles.


So if you're ever stuck wondering why a character of yours might actually be drawn really good at a different angle, but something still seems off, look at it again and try to draw their more key features "incorrectly". "Realistic" doesn't necessarily equate to appealing. It takes some experimenting and skill to get a good balance as it doesn't work for everything particularly more serious characters (Goku is an exception), but it's good advice to be aware of. Be on the lookout for those examples like Mickey and Goku when watching cartoons or playing a video game and see how the designers might go about this. You can pick up on when and where this can be applied!


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Eh, I'm not even immune to it myself, as much as a stickler as I am for consistency and realism.
Gotta keep those shapes intact.


His hair would look fucking ridiculous if I drew it the way it was "supposed" to look from the sides, pointed at such a forward angle.
But it maintains the sloping "dragon horns" look and theme I associate with the character.

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