Easy to use character modelling for the budding comic artist?

Had a moment of, what passes with me for genius, the other day. Of course it’s something that I’m totally, absolutely, completely certain every artsy-sketchy geek type person has had before, but just in case it’s a trick that has passed some of you by, here it is.

If you’re kind of an inexperienced artist like I am, creating the look of a character, faces, body-type and all the rest  from imagination is kind of tough challenge. I mean sure, once you know what they actually look like you can, with considerable effort, do it. But it’s creating that first, something lifelike from nothing, that kills brain cells.

Well anyway, there I was playing Skyrim. I’d decided to make a new character and had just made it through the opening. I was standing in front of the executioners block, and the game had just asked me to create my character. So I started building how she looked, dark hair, white eyes, pale-dirty skin, kissable  lips, ox-blood war-paint and of course a nice sexy scar running down her right cheek, when it suddenly hit me. The games character generation, and even more so the preceding game Oblivion, gives you the ability to create life-like faces that you can screen-capture and use as baseline references for drawing character faces, and even bodies.

You can then modify them as you wish to make them unique, but the crucial part, creating the basic face has been made much easier. Best of all even creating the models themselves will give invaluable experience in understanding what makes a face look more or less real.

And while I am sure there are plenty who will moan and say that this is cheating. But is it really? Yes, you are using an existing system in a way it was never intended, but you are creating the look of the model even if you don’t necessarily understand how the system itself works. And don’t most artists use references? What makes a photograph purer? Surely it’s better to use an image of someone who never existed. To learn by manipulating a malleable, resettable model when a character starts, and stops looking real?

Anyway thought I’d share that. Maybe it’ll help someone else out.

Oh and an afterthought. So many games have this sort of character creation now, but there’s actually one particular free-to-play PC based MMORPG named Perfect World International. It’s okay to play, a pretty standard Korean grind-fest. But it has the most near-infinitely adjustable character creation system I have ever seen. You can with effort make character models which are anything from divinely beautiful to hideously ugly with it. And as I said free to download, free to sign up, and free to play (if the grinding madness happens to strike.).

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