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Designing Characters Using Copic Markers

The Ghostly Captain and His Parrot: My Character Design Process

“Out on the sea with a crew planning mutiny, no pirate captain is complete without at least one faithful companion. Meet Malice, the Ghost Captain’s feathered friend. Ever since the Captain found him when he fell from a nest on a tropical island as a young parrot, the two have been on many adventures. Malice is all too fond of catching the rats on the ship, as well as chasing after the crew to bite their ankles. He was a source of amusement for the captain, a companion on the lonely seas.”

Character design has always been a very important aspect of my art. I prioritize storytelling in my drawings, so that those who look at my pictures see not just the characters, but their personalities, their relationships with one another and see them as they are in a moment of time.

The Ghost Captain and his companion, Malice, are a duo who were well known on the seas during their lifetime. Malice was known for being chaotic and humorous, while the Captain was more stern and serious. Although this is easy to depict in writing, it is not so easy to convey in a drawing.

For this specific illustration I decided to use a purple pencil for sketching. Using colored pencil for the base of your artwork can often drastically alter the final results, especially when coloring skin-tones. The Captain needed a more ghostly skin tone. Thus I opted for using purple erasable coloring pencils. Pink, orange and peach pencils tend to give your characters more lively skin tones when using markers. Purple, blue, grey and green pencils give your character more pale, undead looking skin. That was exactly what I had in mind for the ghostly duo.

After I started adding in the marker, I could slowly work more and more details into the illustration. I easily used over thirty different markers in this drawing, however, if you are just starting your Copic Marker collection, you can use colored pencils and pastels for shading instead.

Finally I added the white details to the eyes and background with a white Posca Paint Pen.

This is definitely my favorite illustration at the moment. I have gotten more ideas for their story and this won’t be the last we see of them…

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