Book Review: Exploring Character Design

Book Review: Exploring Character Design

The authors Kevin Hedgpeth and Stephen Missal may have lots of experience in illustration and character design, but intended audience for this book is not clear.

It is way too heavy on the character design theory. That is not a bad thing since the authors understand in depth what they are talking about, things like bone structures, how different animal moves, facial expressions, using basic shapes as guides etc. In fact, it's very detailed about all the things that can be changed in a character.

But the book says it "shows how to create characters and creatures through a step-by-step visual process". I don't see any. Maybe there are there, but I really just cannot see them. Readers looking for an instructional approach will be severely disappointed.

There's no call to action to put pencil on paper until the end of the long chapters. And the exercises I think are a bit generic.

I've also some problems with illustrated examples shown, especially those created out of imagination. Take the character design on the cover for example, what do you think is the context that require for a character like that?

The only consolation for the book is probably the professional artist profiles included, which are unfortunately too few and brief. They talk about real work industry tips, like making sure design looks good in every angle. E.g. 2D Bart Simpson's hair will not well into 3D.

In essence, this book is like watching an academic documentary on character design. This is a textbook, not an instructional art book.

I would highly recommend borrowing over buying.

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