To the anon who is looking for references on writing characters with limited/no sight, I’ve been developing and writing two characters who both lose their sight completely for about six years now, and have wracked up some great information over the years!
One awesome reference is the 33 Worst Mistakes Writers Make About Blind Characters ebook, written by Stephanie Green. It’s only nine dollars, and completely worth it. It details a lot of the things that sighted people assume, or don’t even think about. It also has tips for further research, and where not to get your facts. A must for anyone writing visually impaired characters.
Future Reflections, a magazine for parents or teachers with blind children, is also a really good one! The subscription is free, too. For example, there’s a great article on blind cooking in the 1985 July-September edition that i found particularly helpful, because one of my characters takes up cooking after being blinded. It’s great because it’s written for sighted people looking into a blind child/student/person’s life, so it’s ideal for the sighted writer getting a feel for their blind character’s world.
I would also visit the National Federation for the Blind’s website, and poking around other country’s sight-loss associations wouldn’t hurt, either!
There are plenty of other resources out there, but the absolute best source is someone who deals with legal or complete blindness themselves. I’ve found that most people that have a visual condition don’t mind answering questions or helping you out (as long as you’re polite, which, duh), because there are a lot of books out there that represent blindness with a lot of inaccuracies, and that can be frustrating! It’s like a POC dealing with constant racial stereotypes, or a gay person dealing with constant Kurt Hummel characters, except there’s even less mainstream representation through blind characters. Keep in mind, however, that everyone’s experience is different, and speaking to just one person might not cut it! Multiple opinions are always better than one.
If you don’t know anyone with visual issues of the top of your head, you can visit your city’s blind and visually impaired association; most well-populated areas have one. Speak with professionals and visually impaired people alike. And, when all else fails, read blogs! There are plenty of blogs written by people that have been blind from birth, or blind due to illness/accidents. A lot of details about guide-dog training and handling, problems with school systems, courteous methods of aid, and awful inconveniences all in raw, cite-able, interactive corners of the web!
But, as you probably know, it’s important to keep in mind that, just as a person with visual impairment is more than just their impairment, your blind character is a character first and foremost! Don’t ignore development or characterization and cover it up with disability stereotypes! That only leads to more harmful misrepresentation.
I have plenty more sources, if anyone would is curious or would like to inquire about them. Thanks!
PDW - TOSHI
6 Color Scheme Tools
The biggest resource community for colour palettes as well as patterns. Plus points that they spell “colour”correctly my British way.
From Adobe it pretty much works the same way as COLORlovers where you also create your own schemes or edit others accordingly.
This site is a little more interactive and fun with the 3D elements. In addition there are few fun mixing/blending options.
Color Scheme Designer
The Wheel! A great resource for creating schemes as well options for “light-er” or “dark-er” versions.
There are a few picture-to-colours applications but this is my favourite as, in my opinion, its most accurate. In addition to finding you colours from an image you’ve uploaded, it suggests other similar colour schemes from Colourlovers and Kuler. You can also download swatch files which I find useful.
Color Palette Generator (DeGraeve.com)
If you’re lazy or don’t have the image on your computer, this site lets you use URL’s instead.
If you don’t care for my chosen color palette, here are some tools to help you create your own :)
One thing you’ve probably heard before is how important a characters’ silhouette is. Ideally, when creating a cast of characters, each of them has a shape that is distinct from one another. I suppose this may hold true more so in animation than in the creation of characters intended for comics, but I think there’s a lot of merit to it either way. A distinct character is a memorable character.
I’ve seen artists begin work with silhouettes. Putting down blots of black in Photoshop, then alternating between cutting away and adding shapes, lines and scribbles until the result is an appealing shape. I don’t work directly into Photoshop myself, but I do use roughly the same process on paper. When I’m trying to get a feel for a new design, I tend to doodle tons of forms like the ones above, in the second picture. Eventually you’ll start running into shapes that stand out to you, and you can experiment with piecing them together into a single design. And then those shapes can become bits and bobs of clothing, accessories and other features. (It helps of course to have a rough idea of the kind of character you’re looking to create.)
Granted, what you see above are all supposed to be humanoid female designs, so the shapes aren’t nearly as varied up as they’d be if I showing the difference between like.. hulking super muscle characters, spindly aliens and/or squat koala people. But it’s important to be able to differentiate characters with similar features as well. You won’t always have a cast of such varied, intergalactically inclined individuals.
Try breaking some of your existing characters down into shapes. Incorporate their outfit and features into the shapes themselves, rather than just sticking to their basic anatomy. (Though anatomy is crazy important! Do NOT neglect the basics, or all of this stuff becomes a heckuva lot harder!) Think about how they would look if they were in motion, even if they’re standing still. It’s important, considering you’re going to be drawing them a lot, and in many more positions than just this one!
This is an excellent way of warming up before doing full illustrations, I find. Draw an entire page full of figures. They don’t have to be established characters of yours, either. Half the time it’s better if you warm up with shapes you AREN’T familiar with, as it starts your creative gears a-turning. Don’t get too caught up detailing either, it’s about loosening up with body shapes. They don’t always have to be doing extravagant backflips or Figure Anatomy model poses either. There are many different ways of doing what are normally ‘static’ looking poses, if you find a way of varying up the shapes and curves involved.
More on character design later. It’s a big question I’ve been posed a few times, about designing characters, and truth be told it’s waaay too much to cover in one or even ten posts like this, haha. So I will chip away at the subject bit by bit! Hope anyone out there finds this useful!