Hello everyone! I’m Yoru and I’m back with another tutorial, this time about drawing characters of different generations!
Characters are an indispensable part of a story. They are an essential component of any story, whether they are innocent children, moody teenagers, ambitious young adults, or sophisticated elders. They can either move the plot along or simply leave an impression. But how do you illustrate these characters? In order to better understand the traits of the different ages, I separated these qualities into several stages.
The faces of characters are an integral part when designing a character. The audience remembers characters' faces the most, and we frequently search for distinguishing visual characteristics, such their eyes, to identify them.
Let's begin by learning how to depict the faces of our characters by their age group.
With children, their faces are rounded. Whether it’s facial features or hair, when drawing them with round lines, they give off a soft feeling.
Rounder outlines make the character look younger compared to sharper ones.
First, I start by drawing the head. I tend to not add much contour to the shape of their faces and ears, as it can make the character look less soft.
When drawing children, I like to draw their facial features on the lower half of their heads. This way, the forehead looks relatively wide, and when I add the hair, there is more volume to it, which makes the character look cute.
Starting with the eyes, draw them round and large! I like to make their iris larger than normal. The larger eyes give them a more innocent and honest feeling.
Next, I draw the bridge of the nose and the middle area short. The distance from the forehead to the eye to the chin is equal.
Finally, I draw the eyebrows thinly and further apart to give the sense that the hair still hasn’t grown much.
Tip: When it comes to their personalities, young children tend to have a simpler thought process. This tends to make them more direct and honest about their emotions, so their faces tend to show it more. In normal life, children usually don’t form one set demeanor as they are still learning and experiencing new things. But in drawing, we can add certain tendencies according to their stories. For example, having a child character act mature may make people feel that they’re more advanced or that they’re special.
I like to define teenagers as children from late elementary school to high school, so around 12–18 years old.
With age, the facial features will become more open and fill up more areas of the face, so the ratio of the facial features changes a lot.
The contours of the face become more visible, and as the character gets older, sharper corners begin to be more prominent. For example, the nose gets sharper and the chin becomes more pointed.
When drawing characters in this age range, I like to put an emphasis on the bridge of the nose and the width of the forehead.
Other than the bridge of the nose, it's important to pay attention to the shape of the face as it will go through some subtle changes. Younger teens tend to be depicted with a rounder face shape that will slowly contour with age.
For example, when drawing a 12-year-old, there is no need to emphasize the bridge of the nose, but when drawing an 18-year-old, the nose becomes sharper to give the character an older feeling.
Another thing I like to change is the distance between the eye and the eyebrow. Characters with shorter distance between their eyebrows and eyes tend to look more mature as their eyes look sharper and smaller.
Finally, for masculine characters, make the necks thicker and add more contours to depict the muscles developing more.
When you’re drawing the same character as they grow, the changes may be less noticeable, so it is better to keep a reference in mind.
a. 20-30 years old
Compared to their previous years, the faces of middle-aged characters only go through small, subtle changes. However, they have a great impact on the character’s face.
One difference is that their eye socket may deepen and the lines of their lower eye socket may be more visible.
The cheekbones are more prominent and the contour of the area around their mouth starts to be visible. A way to show how the cheekbones is starting to look more prominent is by adding a light shadow of the jawbone
The chin and mandible area also start to change. The shape of the chin thickens and becomes more square, and the connection between the mandible and ear is more obvious.
The neck becomes thicker, and structures of the neck, such as the muscles or the Adam’s apple, become more visible
There are other minor changes you can make to give a sense of maturity. For example, making the edges of the face sharper and elongating the length between the chin and eyebrows may make it look like the character has aged slightly in comparison to their late teen selves. Or adding more lines to the shadow around the jaw and neck to give the sense that the muscle has deepened.
b. 30-40 years old
Going from late 20s to late 30s is where characters will undergo more obvious changes. Compared to the younger years, the skin will loosen more, which creates more visible wrinkles.
Because the skin loses its elasticity, the skin isn’t as plump as before, and there are more obvious contours on the face. The folds and wrinkles around the mouth become more visible, and the lines around the cheekbone should be more visible than in the previous stages.
In addition, the eye bags and upper lids will slowly sag and crow's feet become more visible
In reality, there are older people who still look younger than their age. The details can be determined based on the setting and the personalities of the characters. For example, characters who often do skin care or make-up may look younger while characters who live with an unhealthy lifestyle may appear older. Remember to adjust the details depending on your character setting.
c. Seniors (50+ years old)
When drawing characters over 50 years old, I used the design from the late 30s and merely deepened the loose skin and the wrinkles.
After thickening the lines of the crow’s feet and deepening the eye bags, I also added some wrinkles on the forehead.
The line around the mouth also becomes thicker, and the skin at the corners of the mouth sags even more.
When it comes to character designs, it’s important to focus on the character's personality themselves and emphasize those characteristics when aging them instead of trying to be anatomically and realistically correct. For example, emphasizing thick jaws for strong and masculine characters.
Or add thicker crow’s feet around the eyes to give a sense of a kind jovial character who has laughed a lot.
Having facial hair can also enhance the sense of age.
Now that we know how to draw the face, let's continue with the bodies of our character.
In young children, their neck and shoulders are thin. I like to use the pupil of the character’s eyes to determine the width of the neck.
Next, the shoulders shouldn’t be too wide. I like to have it be equal to the size of one and a half heads.
When connecting the next to the shoulders, the line shouldn’t have too much contour as it could look like you’re emphasizing the muscles. Children at this stage haven’t fully developed their bodies, so having a short thin line to show the clavicle is enough.
Finally, for their height, I aim to have the total height be somewhere within the size of three heads or four and a half heads.
ii. Teenagers and Young Adult
In their teenage years, it’s important to remember that they usually have yet to reach their peak growth. The height of the character is subjective, but teenage characters nearing the peak of their growth tend to be 7-8 heads tall.
The difference between teenagers and young adults is subtle. The main way I like to distinguish them is through their muscles. Having teenage characters with a more slender frame makes them feel more youthful, and the muscle definition is slowly increased as they grow.
Of course, this would depend on the character as well. Characters who work out may have more defined muscles and have a bigger outline, thus making them look more mature even if they were younger.
iii. Middle-Aged Adults
Middle-aged adults and older bodies are where the contours need to be fully emphasized. As we grow older, the bones and joints become more prominent, and sagging skin also occurs in different areas of the body. Muscles may also be weakened with age.
There would be more wrinkles and folds in areas such as their knees, and some may even have more belly fat as fat accumulates.
Unlike the body shape of young people, the overall body is less toned and less neat.
After the face, hands are the next most expressive parts of a person. The way they move and the poses they adopt can do a lot to indicate which character is talking and what kind of person they are.
The bone and muscle structure of the hands are complex. In addition to the face, the way hands change with age should also be given attention.
Children's hands are softer. They have shorter fingers, smaller nails, and subtler knuckles. The silhouette is also rounder and there aren’t as many contours.
ii. Young Teens
Young teenagers (age 12–15) have a bit more knuckle structure. They’re more slender than those of children, but there is still some baby fat.
Quick Tip: Making Contours
To make the contours of the fingers, first prepare the drawing of the hand.
Next, look at your hands. Notice how each finger hand lines on your hands? If you bend your fingers, those lines are where your fingers bend. Draw those lines on your hand, we will use this to indicate where the joints are.
Draw circles on top of those lines, and on the base of your fingers, draw a diamond shape for the knuckles.
Now that you have your guidelines, it's just a matter of following it.
On the area of the joints, keep the finger wide and the lines curved outwards. And on the areas between those joints, erase the lines and make the lines curved inwards. The end result will look slightly wavy.
Draw lines in the knuckles area, the thickness and amount of lines would depend on how skinny and how old you want your hands to look. Adding more lines there would make the hands look thinner and give off the impression that it's losing elasticity.
Now just clean it up and you have contours on your fingers!
iii. Older Teens
Older teens to young adults have longer fingers. Their knuckles are more defined. The contours and bones begin to be more emphasized.
Continue to emphasize the joints as they grow older. There is a richer sense of detail, such as more defined joints, blood vessels, and even body hair. Wrinkles have also begun to appear.
I like to use this brush to add the body hair details:
To draw veins, this is how I like to do it. First, prepare the drawing of the hand.
Next, on a new layer, turn on the border effect on the layer properties. I like to set it to a dark grey since the color black may make the veins look too thick.
Then, start drawing lines with a pen with the color white. Remember to make the lines imperfect and shaky/wavy. A straight line would look too unnatural.
Once you're happy with the shape you have. Right click on the layer and click 'Rasterize'.
Once it's rasterized, you can start cleaning it up by adding more white lines INSIDE to make the veins look wider, ERASING the OUTSIDE to make the veins look smaller, and erasing the edges to make it look blended in.
Next, lower the opacity so that it looks subtle.
And you're done!
Now that we’ve gone through the basic differences, it’s time to start adding personality to your character. For me, the two most important things to use to make a character stand out are their hair and clothing.
Hairstyles also influence people’s first impressions of a character. For example, hairstyles that cover a lot of the character’s face can indicate that he’s more introverted or that he’s more mysterious.
Characters with shorter hair can seem more outgoing and sociable.
And characters with a cleaner hairstyle seem more serious and mature.
It's better to think of hairstyles that would best fit your character. Just using the same hairstyle would not work on the different age groups.
It's important to refer back to your character setting and personality. For example, children may fit messy hairstyles more compared to adults in working setting.
Or maybe the old characters have dexterity issues due to age. In this case complicated hairstyles might not fit them, so it would be better to use a simple hairstyle.
Clothing can be used to enhance the first impression of a character.
For example, characters that are dressed in house clothes or wearing an apron can come across as warm and inviting.
Or characters that dress in a tidy suit, looking more ‘elite’ and elegant.
And wearing a suit messily makes him look tired and overworked.
The most important thing about clothing is to reflect their clothes on the identity and age of the wearer. Children's clothes are tailored differently than adult clothes, not only in the size but also in the design.
Even casual wear, which can seem similar to an adult’s at first glance, looks softer. They’re made with materials like cotton so that they're more comfortable, which makes their outline look less crisp and smoother, less rigid.
With the casual wear of young adults, there is a lot more diversity. Fashionable but comfortable hoodies, various accessories, graphic shirts. There are many unique items and combinations that can be used to highlight the characters.
To give off a sense of maturity, you can make adult characters wear plain clothes, such as T-shirts, sweaters, etc. Of course, adults can also wear similar styles of clothes as young adults and look trendy and hip as well, but it’s important to remember the type of character you’re drawing.
For example, a serious-looking older man wearing a shirt with a cute mascot may come across as weird if it’s not in his character. Of course, this can instead be used to deepen his personality and add quirks that make him stand out more.
Thank you for reading until the end! I hope I explained everything well! Please remember that there are many ways to design a character, and that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Have fun designing your characters!