Do I Need to Master Drawing People? Unlocking the Potential of Human Characters in Picture Books

Drawing animal characters is fun and exciting, but if you aspire to be a children's picture book illustrator, it's essential to also master drawing human characters. In this blog, we'll explore the significance of incorporating human characters, expanding artistic skills, and building a well-rounded portfolio.

Why Being Able to Draw People Is So Important

Human characters in picture books help children relate the story to their own lives and experiences. Human characters provide a sense of familiarity, allowing young readers to connect with the narrative more easily. They can see themselves and the people they know in the characters, making the story more relevant and engaging. Human characters in picture books help children connect with the story on a personal level, fostering engagement and relatability.

Expanding Artistic Skills

By venturing into drawing human characters alongside animal characters, you open doors to enhancing your overall illustration abilities. Mastering both with ease will make you a sought-after children's picture book illustrator. The benefits of learning to draw people extend beyond just human characters – it positively impacts your skills across the board. Personally, I've found that practicing how to draw the human form in regular life drawing classes has greatly improved my drawing skills.

Cultural Representation and Diversity

While animal characters provide a wonderful opportunity to avoid references to sex, race, and age, incorporating human characters in picture books supports representation and diversity. By featuring human characters from diverse backgrounds and cultures, you have the power to celebrate the richness of our world and promote inclusivity. Embracing human characters as well as animal characters in your illustrations expands the horizons of your storytelling, creating a more inclusive and enriching experience for young readers.

Balancing Personal Style and Market Demand

Balancing personal interests and market demands can be a creative challenge. Look for areas where your personal style and market demands intersect. For example, if you love creating whimsical animal characters, explore how you can bring that whimsy into your portrayal of human characters. Experiment with different styles, techniques, and approaches that incorporate human figures while maintaining the essence of your personal style. By finding this balance, you can create illustrations that are both visually captivating and commercially appealing.

Building a Well-Rounded Portfolio 

Including both animal and human character illustrations in your portfolio opens doors to a broader range of clients. While some projects may require illustrations centered around animals, others may call for human characters. By showcasing your proficiency in illustrating both animals and humans, you increase your chances of attracting clients with different needs and preferences. This versatility positions you as a well-rounded illustrator capable of handling a variety of projects.

Overcoming Challenges and Gaining Confidence 

Transitioning from drawing animals to people can pose some challenges for aspiring illustrators. While you may feel confident in your ability to depict animal characters, human figure drawing requires a different set of skills and understanding of anatomy. The key is understanding the concept of proportion and how it varies in different age groups. 

Observe people in various activities, such as walking, running, or interacting with objects, to understand how the body moves and how weight is distributed. Set aside regular time to focus on improving your skills, whether it's through regular life drawing sessions or sketching from life. Be patient with yourself and embrace the learning process, knowing that learning how to draw human characters will improve your overall illustration skills and confidence.

If you're happy focusing solely on drawing animal characters, that's perfectly fine! However, if you embrace the opportunity to learn how to draw both animal and human characters, you'll not only expand your artistic skills but will also become a versatile and highly sought-after picture book illustrator. 

Whichever path you choose, remember to enjoy the journey and keep nurturing your creativity. Happy illustrating!

PS – To join the waiting list for my Picture book Illustration e-Course, PBIC LIVE, an 8-week program starting February 2, 2024, CLICK HERE.

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