In the previous entry, I covered the options for acquiring art for your project – once you have successfully gained an artist (please note that kidnapping is not recommended), you need to know how to get what you want.
Hopefully, you have done the following step in your quest to acquire your own Artist Bob:
- Ensure Artist Bob’s style matches your project.
Sorry the list isn’t longer, but that step is one of the most important elements moving forward – as pointed out in a comment on the previous entry, someone who draws art deco cats isn’t going to be able to suddenly draw a line of superheroes.
So, hopefully, Artist Bob style is what you want. Even with that, you need to be able to articulate what you want.
In your commission information to Artist Bob, you should give this information, at minimum:
- This seems unnecessary, but I’ve found that naming the subject can help make them more real to the artist.
- This isn’t as strange – a character’s personality can determine a tonne of little things, from the angle of their head, to the look in their eyes. If Artist Bob knows that Character A is flirty, they’re going to treat (and draw) them differently from someone who is paranoid.
- Body Type
- I’m going to have a section on this lower down, but be specific with what you want. Don’t just say that you character is “normal” or “muscular” or “athletic”. For starters, there is no “normal”, and “muscular” can be any body type from Jason Mamoa to wrestler-era Dwayne “The Hufflepuff” Johnson.
- Provide references – sit on Google Images for ten minutes, and find a few pictures of body types that match your character – you aren’t going to get what you want, unless you ask.
- Be specific – you’re going to get a different image if you ask for smiling rather than smirking, or angry instead of wary – in some cases, depending on the project type, this may be your only chance to show an image of your character. All characters (okay, most characters) experience a wide range of emotions – for your piece of art, pick one that best represents that character.
- Skin Colour
You’re going to think I’m a bit of a stuck record here, but be specific. No matter a character’s race – real or imaginary, you’re going to want to give references. If your character, is for, example an African-American woman, you can get a skin tone anywhere from Lupita Nyong’o to Halle Berry. Use examples. Be specific.
- Hair Colour
- Your character might have blue hair. What kind of blue? Navy blue? Cyberpop blue? A specific Pantone shade? Provide a reference – but at the same time, be prepared for your character’s hair not to be a uniform shade, given the lighting of the image.
- Hair Style
- Short hair isn’t short hair, long hair isn’t long hair. Provide references, especially if it’s a complex style.
- Provide detail for what’s covering your character’s feet, bottom, top and any accessories – don’t forget to mention a character’s fingerless gloves if you want fingerless gloves.
- Providing that your commission covers a background – and that is something you need to ask Artist Bob – with commissions of any kind, never assume any inclusions – this may impact on your lighting. A character standing in a dark alley is going to be lit differently to standing in a ballroom.
- Standing, kneeling, skulking? Consider how this will impact the rest of your commission – if you need to show off the graphic or words on a T-shirt, don’t have a character leaning on a bar, entirely obscuring all that detail.
- Other References
- If you have ever had any previous commissions done, or fanart, provide these too – they aren’t always useful, but they show Artist Bob other interpretations of your character.
The Importance of Fat – Diverse Body Types
I’m a fat girl, so I come into this with a bias. In my fiction – and now, in my games, I like to try and show a range of body types. Stef, as the main character of Require: Cookie is thin – but it’s a sickly, scrawny kind of thin, rather than anything approaching attractive (not to mention that she’s covered in scars).
Characters in fiction, and in art, tend to be attractive. Most characters fall into the narrow band of thin, white, able, and magazine pretty. In a world where white-Katniss herself, Jennifer Lawrence, can be considered “overweight”; and Julia Roberts can cry about fat jeans in Eat, Pray, Love…sometimes, getting a more diverse body type can be difficult.
The artist I contacted to get art for Sequence: Start has a beautiful gallery full of beautiful people – and one of the first questions I asked them was “can you draw a fat girl”? It was important to me, as someone wanting to portray diverse body types that the artist be willing and able to draw someone who wasn’t thin.
I provided a couple of references, and got the first sketch – I asked for a chubby bunny, and I essentially got…Brienne of Tarth. The character looked great, but she wasn’t Screen. She didn’t have a large chest that hurts on some days, she didn’t have a tummy that one could fall asleep on.
In this case, I blamed myself – I should have provided more or better references to display her body type – on consultation with the Thinktank (my inner circle of minions/first readers), I asked for their help.
I was able to get a good piece of reference art – in this case, it wasn’t a photo of a real person, but a frame from a web comic – and asked for a new sketch, with the body typed pushed further towards this new reference.
And what I got back was amazing.
You get what you ask for, so if you want a character to look a certain way, Be Specific.