sketchbook: how i keep track

I’ve never done this before but for the latest run of comic strips, I’ve been keeping track of characters in my sketchbook. Is this something actual artists do?

I knew I wanted to take the opportunity of focusing on one class to create a couple of memorably designed student characters. In that way, when the same students pop up again and again… it’s easier to notice. Before this year, I always drew whole classrooms of random students, many who ended up looked exactly like one another.

Oh once and awhile I tried to shorehorn in a couple of characters (like Cassie and Winston), but by and large, I stuck with the “large random assemblage” idea. I wanted to try and convey to my readers the feel of how huge being a teacher is these days. I don’t mean the importance of the job… I mean the sheer size. You teach like 150-160 kids a day. Sometimes it seems like one big crowd of kids.

Doing the journalism comics offered me the opportunity to zero in and focus these strips. As you can see, I’ve introduced about twelve recurring students. I find myself often referring to this page to “take attendance” of which characters I’ve used in what capacity and where. I still have the problem of creating similar looking designs for my characters (see the entire right hand column if you don’t believe me) but having something like this page living in my sketchbook has been quite helpful!

I’m afraid I haven’t given them very sharp personalities beyond surface stuff (Devin is sort of negative all the time, Tami is a go-getter/apple polisher) but perhaps that’ll come with time.


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