Play along with me as I design a character! For the first segment of this series, I’m going to work on inspiration and thumbnails.

I want to design an evil gentleman occultist male wizard, from Britain, 17th or 18th century. I’m thinking he should be handsome but a little odd, able to look dark and twisted. I started out by gathering reference of British actors like Bertie Carvel (who played Jonathan Strange in Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrel, I love both the book and the BBC show and it’s certainly an inspiration for the idea), Johnny Flynn (Emma), Josh O’Connor (The Crown), Colin Morgan (Merlin)… The search for inspiration is often pretty time consuming, and I give it the space it needs.



I do the same for the costume. I’ve picked up a lot of costume grammar, which is super useful for reference gathering, and it expands as I add to my libraries. In this case I started out with frock coats but discovered a long robe that’s perfect for a gentleman wizard, called a “banyan.”


Then I start on rough thumbnails. I do a loose gesture first, then a slightly tighter body outline, then start blocking in costume elements, focusing on the silhouette.


To be continued…