Sunday, March 16, 2014

How Drawing Can Help You Write

Believe it or not years ago I hated drawing. I always preferred painting during the few years of art classes I took. After my art classes ended, I picked up a how-to-draw manga book from Hobby Lobby with one of my best friends because we loved anime and wanted to draw our characters.

Now I love drawing. Since I was fifteen I've mostly self-taught myself from books and YouTube videos. I've noticed a lot of writers are multi-talented in different forms of art and drawing is a great talent to help with writing.

When I was at DragonCon this past year (Yes, geek here), I attended a drawing class. During it, the teacher/comic book artist said, "What your character wears shows who they are." I thought about that and realized that's very true. Clothing reflects personality, lifestyle, and more. It made me think about my character drawings. What my characters wear tells much about them. I'll give you some examples.

Caleb is one of my main characters from the first book of my science fiction series Subsapien. He's nerdy, insecure and a bit awkward.

Brian is a side character from my second book of Subsapien. He's a boy genius and very mature for his age, but he's not very sociable.

Sting is a villain from the the second book of Subsapien. He's a psychopath and likes to toy with his victims.

Can you see their different personalities in their appearances?

Try putting a little more effort into describing your characters clothing in your books. Don't give every detail. That will get boring. Give us what mainly makes them stick out. A black skull hoodie. A navy polo shirt. A vest.

Drawing helps me get a better picture of who my characters are while writing. I can describe them easier, and, well, they make good wallpapers to motivate me. While I'm drawing them I often get some ideas about the character's personality because I'm focused on him or her.

Maybe you don't have a huge talent with drawing. Perhaps you can ask a friend.

A chibi of a friend on gimp
If you'd like to try your hand at it yourself, I'd suggest reading up on it either in books or online and watching YouTube videos.

Lemme tell you one secret about drawing that took me forever to find out: proportions. If you focus on guidelines and how big or small each body part is and where they're placed instead of just shapes then you can get your drawing to look right far easier. I learned this from YouTube guru Mark Crilley. He really focuses on proportions. Though he mostly focuses on manga-style (my style also), he has some realistic drawing tutorials also. His book Mastering Manga is fantastic. It changed my drawing for the better.

Though many people have different methods about how they go about their drawings, I use a mechanical pencil, a sketch pad, and a knead eraser to do the basic sketch. Afterwards I scan my drawing into my computer and using my WACOM Bamboo Tablet and the free graphic design programs gimp and Photofiltre I edit my drawings into what you see in my gallery and album. :)

Drawing isn't easy but with practice you can get your drawings to look great. If drawing a person sounds too daunting for you right now, how about you try sketching a floor plan or maps for locations of your story or try drawing objects like special robots or magic swords? Tapping into another side of your creativity can help get the inspiration juices flowing.

Have you tried drawing your characters? Does it help your writing?

You may also like:
Finding and Taming Inspiration Part 1
Finding and Taming Inspiration Part 2
Fall Update 2013!
Summer Summary!
What Anime Can Teach Us About Writing


  1. I finished painting one of my characters in my art class a few weeks ago. It took months, but I love how it turned out!

  2. I love Mark Crilley, too! And I love to draw. I don't try my characters very often, though. It's hard for me to draw them out.

    1. Oh cool to know about another Mark Crilley fan! I don't know too many people who know about him. Aw. I bet you can do it. It's hard but so worth it. :)

    2. I actually tried today. Didn't work out as well as I hoped, but I'll keep going at it. :) And it definitely sounds worth it! :D

    3. That's awesome! Keep working at it! :D

  3. Great post. :) I find drawing really does help my writing. I can picture ideas and character in my head but seeing them physically in front of me definitely helps. I love drawing my characters when I have the opportunity. :) And coolio! I didn't know you liked Mark Crilley too!

    1. Thank you. :) Awesome! Yay another Mark Crilley fan!

  4. Woohoo! Drawing FTW!!! I make it a point to draw my characters, but most of the time end up getting lazy and going on Dolldivine...XD This is a GREAT post!