Why I Make a 3D Model of My Characters

//Why I Make a 3D Model of My Characters

Why I Make a 3D Model of My Characters

Drawing my characters’ head rotating on the X, Y and Z-Axis


When creating a new character, I like to start by using my hands to quickly and effectively sketch the shape and form using clay. My view… I’m experiential learner and making a 3D model takes me through the process of building my character from the ground up. The tactile experience of adding, pressing and shaping the clay offers a multi-sensory experience and offers me a deeper understanding of my character.

You may only need go though this entire process once before the penny drops. However, over the years, I’ve created a number of generic models which I find very useful when illustrating picture books. I have a model of a baby, a young child (which I can then make into a male or a female character at a later stage), and any animal or made-up characters that I’ve struggled to ‘see’. I’ve found that these generic models can be applied to a whole range of characters.

How to Draw the Head From Every Angle

In my three part series ‘How to Draw the Head From Every Angle’ I show you everything you need to know to transform your flat character drawings into three-dimensional looking forms. This series is a must for anyone wanting to develop and explore character for a picture book or storyboard project.

Below, is a break down of what to expect. You can also head over to my ONLINE CLASSES for a preview and to find out more about Skillshare (the platform that I host my online classes).

Part 1: You’ll learn about the basic structure of the head then apply this information to your own character. Seeing how to draw a characters heads rotating on the Y-Axis, then apply this information, to draw the front and side view of your own character.
Here is a link to the Skillshare class How to Draw the Head from Every Angle – Part One

How to Draw the Head From Every Angle – Part One


Part 2: I will show you how to use the front and side view drawings of your character (that you completed in Part One) to make a simple 3D clay model of your characters’ head using Polymer clay. This may be something that you’ve never done before, but in this class, I walk you through the entire process of making three very different looking character clay models. Because each character is unique, I cover a wide range of modelling technique in this class.

Here is a link to the Skillshare class How to Draw the Head from Every Angle – Part Two

How to Draw Your Character Head From Every Angle – Part Two


Part 3: Here is where all of your hard work pays off! The reference that you create in this class will guarantee to save you hours of time and potential mistakes when moving forward with any project. In this class, you’ll learn to use your clay model as reference to draw you characters head on the X,Y and Z-Axis. Then taking this one step further I’ll then show you how to layering-in facial expression that literally brings your character to life!

Here is the link to the Skillshare class How to Draw the Head from Every Angle – Part Three

How to Draw Your Character Head From Every Angle – Part Three


After working through Part One, Two and Three of ‘How to Draw the Head From Every Angle’, you’ll know your character enough to start moving away from the practicalities of how to draw your character correctly, to feeling confident enough to focus on expression and artistic style.

This will make all the difference to your characters and illustrations. When you know your character, your drawings become more confident and expressive as you layer in your own artistic interpretation. And this wis key when illustrating picture books and story.

Have you ever tried making and working from a 3D model?
Did it improve your character drawings?

I look forward to hearing what you think.

By |2017-02-05T01:33:07+00:00January 2nd, 2017|General|2 Comments

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  1. Anita Waugh February 3, 2017 at 8:13 pm - Reply

    I love your work, Nina! I have some questions… I have a friend who has asked me to consider going in with her on a book she wants to do… and it’s probably a self-published option. She’s a friend, so we have an established trust, but I want to be fair with her in the ratio of payment we would have between each other as she is the author and I would be the illustrator. How does that work out usually under a general contract as a children’s picture book between author and illustrator? I am aware that if we self-publish, it may be a fair split in costs as well as profit. What is the ratio of royalties one would usually receive for each role in the book production?

    • admin February 28, 2017 at 1:54 am - Reply

      Hi Anita. With any picture book publication, the split is usually 50/50. So it would only seem fair to also split costs and profits for your e-book publication. Best of luck with your venture! And let me know how you track…I’d love to hear more about your story 🙂

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