I don't know exactly when it happened but at some point in my days as an art student I decided I wanted to illustrate children's books. As strange as it may seem, it took me much longer to realize this would include drawing and painting children. Not only should these children look healthy, non scary, happy, loving, normal etc. but they should depict an age, an ethnicity, and flow rather than be stiff. Publishers often want to see illustrations of children in action. I had no idea how hard it would be to achieve this outcome when I first started but I enjoyed the challenge. I first realized how hard children are to depict in my Senior year portfolio class. I brought in a painting of some children playing in the snow and a few people pointed out that the children looked stiff and even a bit retarded. I've often heard it said that an artist is there own worst critic. As an artist I tend to criticize my art so drastically that I don’t want people to see it until I’m happy with it. There have been times I worked on an image for hours and think it looks fine while someone else will come in and immediately spot problem areas. This happens when I look at individual parts of an illustration but don’t take the time to step back and look at the work as a whole. One good technique to help see problem areas is to either turn the drawing upside down or look at it in a mirror.
Over the past couple of months I have tackled what I feel is the most crucial element of any children’s illustrators portfolio, the children. I worked a bit on drawing children and plan to continue this process until I feel confident drawing children in any pose, and ethnicity, any age, gender, perspective etc. without reference. I will be happy to receive any advice or techniques that people have discovered in there own art making process. Some samples on the right.
These are all under one hour sketches and they are freehand drawings from photos. Click on the image to enlarge.
Just a few quick things I’ve learned to keep in mind. The younger the child, the rounder the face. Children have bigger eyes, ears and mouth in comparison to size of face than adults. Children have bigger foreheads. Children’s heads are bigger in proportion to their bodies than adults, often having four to five heads height while adults are seven to eight heads tall. Their eyebrows and hair tends to be very light and thin, particularly on young children. The line under children’s eyes tends to be less pronounced. Teenagers tend to have longer faces with more chiseled features, not so round. Younger children have short necks.