How I Make a Hand-Colored Drawing of a Character

Preliminary Drawing

Character creation preliminary drawing

To begin creating a character for a book or a story, first I make a few rough graphite sketches of the character.

After that, using a list of the qualities of details from the written material provided, as well as the verbal ideas shared during meetings with the client, things like facial expression and body position as it applies to the character within the story or to the character’s purpose, I then draw and redraw many versions using those details to bring out the the personality.

Many hours of creative contemplation go into this phase of character building. The garment design is so important. I ask my client to consider this question, “How do you see your character’s clothing or costume?”

The first sketches are my form of visual note-taking and it’s my starting point for every new character I create.



Adding Details

Adding details to the character

All of the character’s details mentioned above are points of consideration at this point.

Once the character’s sketch is approved, I can really work at refining the drawing and bring the character’s image up to the client’s vision.

I use graphite, drawing the character with all or most of the agreed upon details. I will then use ink at this stage to “finish” the drawing of the character.

Refinement is the real art of the work, as the most subtle of detail inflection in the characters face and body language can alter, enhance and bring forward the purpose of the character within the context of the client’s story

Note the fine lines used in the flower wreath, dress, and wings. Now the client’s character is starting to take shape.


Highlights & Shadows

Adding highlights to the character

This is the point where the inked character drawing becomes much more 3 dimensional.

I use an under-painting to add the dark and medium range shadows.

The character really begins to look much more believable.

Where there are details in the cloth or other refinements, I use a tiny brush to define the little details, and also add highlights as another layer to create more depth to the character.




Finishing Touches

Finished character illustration

The character image really starts to come to life now as the various colors are very carefully, with consideration of hue and transparency, delicately applied over the under-painting.

This is the process I use for creating an original character for a client.

Note: For this character creation example, I used graphite, ink, and watercolor as my mediums.






If you have any questions about my illustrations, artwork or art classes and want to know more… just contact me.

Elizabeth Berg
Make everything you do an ART,
Elizabeth Berg