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the #NonIdentikit challenge

Yesterday I was bemoaning the lack of variety in the faces I see comics people and illustrators drawing for their main 'beautiful' characters. When teenagers show me their sketchbooks, so often they've drawn one face, over and over, often inspired by Japanese anime. I grew up with Betty and Veronica, who had the same faces in their comics, and you could only tell them apart by their different colours of straight long hair.


Betty and Veronica, Sailor Moon

I'll do a longer blog post here about it soon, and include more images, but I've set a challenge for myself to draw 20 faces that don't fit the identikit model but are still strikingly beautiful, enough to make you turn around and think, WHOA. Faces that you look at and they're not your standard Hollywood ingenue or female superhero, but you can't stop looking. Sometimes they'll be from non-white ethnicities, sometimes they'll be the white teenage or 20-something women people seem to prefer drawing, but with a difference. A heavier chin, a big nose, a monobrow, the variations we get in real life.



Check the Twitter hash tag #NonIdentikit for updates, and feel free to use the hash tag to contribute your own! You can do detailed portraits or a bunch of quick doodles on a single sheet of paper, head portraits or full body, awesome outfit, plain clothes, whatever you like. (Keep in mind that some kids might be browsing, and hopefully be inspired.)

I'm hoping to learn a few things by doing this; practical considerations, how to create characters who aren't identikit but still have powerful visual appeal.

Edit: Here are a few experimental sketches I've posted on Twitter:


Comments

jinty
Jan. 26th, 2015 03:33 pm (UTC)
In fact, of the faces on the Twitter hashtag generally, there's a lot of them that I don't find beautiful per se - interesting, different, striking, strong, worth looking at, etc etc - but mostly not beautiful, actually.
jabberworks
Jan. 26th, 2015 03:45 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it's a lot harder than drawing an identikit beauty. But I guess the only way to get there is for people to have a play with it and try, and make mistakes. I love that the Internet can be a sketchbook that way, it's not like having something printed in a book, when there's no escape.

I don't think people have to throw in all the variations at once; it might be an identikit with one thing different. And there's a big difference between drawing someone traditionally beautiful who just happens to be non-white (say, a supermodel such as Naomi Campbell), versus someone who's disfigured, diseased, obese, etc. Tank Girl is kind of interesting because her body type would be identikit, but she's altered herself so that she's not. That's one route to go, there must be loads of different ways.

I don't know the answer, I'm trying to work out how books and comics can have unusual human main characters and still appeal to wide audiences.

Edited at 2015-01-26 04:06 pm (UTC)
jinty
Jan. 26th, 2015 04:07 pm (UTC)
The Hernandez brothers famously are great with this. Their characters are striking and beautiful, and most of them are non-identikit. Jaime Hernandez started off with one of his main characters, Maggie, being standardly beautiful, and fairly rapidly changed her from 'Archies comics type' to having more of her own style - big bum & thighs and all.
jabberworks
Jan. 26th, 2015 04:13 pm (UTC)
Yes, I love that he has characters with big thighs! :D I never really got into his work, I remember two characters looking so identical that I had a hard time working out who was who. But I should go back and look again.
jinty
Jan. 26th, 2015 04:53 pm (UTC)
I wonder which two characters those were?
I think with Jaime it is sometimes difficult to be sure who you're looking at, but I find it's more to do with the fact that his characters age and change, so the same person at 16 looks quite different from them at 26 or 36 (rightly, of course). Having said that, his main characters Hopey and Maggie, when drawn as 16 year olds, did look quite similar - again actually quite realistically, but the older versions of those characters look noticeably different.

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