Friday, April 27, 2012

Creating a Character Board

By Jill Williamson
When creating your characters, it helps to be able to look at them. This is why I create a character board for each novel I write. I like to have my characters out where I can see them. I have a sandwich board sign that I use for book signings, but the rest of the time, it’s covered with the characters from my recent work in progress.
You could also create a notebook for your characters or pin them up on the wall or a bulletin board.
Pictured is my character inspiration for Captives, the dystopian novel I’m writing for Zonderkidz. When I look for images of my characters, I have the tendency to pick famous people who pop into my head and are easy to find pictures for. Sometimes I spend a lot of time on iStockPhoto or Shutterstock looking for characters. FYI, you don’t have to pay for images you print out and look at in your home. You only have to pay for images you are going to put on a product and sell. You also have to be careful putting images on your blog.
So what do you think of my character board? Click here to view a bigger image that you can click on and zoom in to see and read.
I try to find a few pictures of each main character with different expressions. Have you ever made a character board? Do you find them helpful? If you have a blog, post a link to one of your characters.

28 comments:

  1. Cool! I love this kind of stuff. :D

    And I have a quick question. :)
    You have characters like Jemimah and I think two other girls that underneath them have a boys name. (Like Jemimah and Levi) The boys also have that girl's name under theirs. Is this to show relationships or are the boys and girls the same person? Or is it something else entirely different?

    And I think your character board is awesome!

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    1. Thanks, Leila!
      That is to show relationships or potential ones. Jemimah and Levi and engaged. Jordan and Naomi are married. And the others... I've got to wait to see what they decide to do in the story. Ha ha ha.

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  2. It looks awesome! My problem is finding the right people that fits what I want. For instance, I have the perfect image for one of my characters Evy (an early picture of Taylor Swift, actually!), but in another storyline, I can not seem to find anything for my character Lyddian!! I guess my question is how do overcome this? Where do you look to find the right image? Is there a way to move around this?

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    1. It just takes time. Like I said, I use Google and iStockPhoto for most my pictures. I've looked through my Facebook friends too, but usually if I use a picture of someone I know, I don't tell them. Because then they think that I'm basing the story on them, which isn't the case. Sometimes I've taken two pictures, used the face of one and the hair of another, to give me a visual. Hope that helps. :-)

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  3. Jill, I do character boards too :D. They're really fun to make, and help me keep all of my characters straight. I don't just do faces. I add things in their favorite color, hobbies, etc. For example if a character plays soccer, I add a soccer ball, cleats, and/or a water bottle. I'll put a pic of their favorite band or favorite food. That way, I'm not just looking at them, but getting into them.

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    1. That's fun, Laura. I have character charts for each that list that stuff, but I like the idea of putting the images up with their faces. Cool.

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  4. I've always wanted to try this!

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  5. I love finding pictures of my characters. I am a visual person and to see my characters with a face really helps me.

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  6. Oh, this is cool! I've never tried making one of these, but I have struggled with finding pictures that will fit my characters. I picture them exactly, but I'm no artist and it can be very frustrating. I'll have to check out some of these websites! Even though I can't dry my character's entire face, sometimes I find I can draw one characteristic, like their eyes, and I find that very helpful.

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  7. This is a fantastic idea! I am SO going to do this! My mom and I were just talking about character design yesterday, and this is such a great way to do it ;)

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  8. Neat! It's always hard to find the right person though, there's always a little detail that is off, like the eyes or something. But I'll take what I can get. :)

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  9. I'm just stuck on one of your characters being like Hugh Laurie. :)

    I can't say that I've ever thought about doing this. I usually have such a strong picture of the character in my head that I don't really need outside inspiration. But it is a great suggestion that I'll have to try sometime.

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  10. AHHH I LOVE THESE TYPES OF POSTS! ^_^ I love making character boards! They really work and I like casting my characters/ having their image right in front of me.
    I use a lot of the actors you had on your board. I don't have a board for my characters yet, but they are cast. Here are mine (in case you're curious)-

    http://figment.com/groups/6918-S-J-Bouquet-and-C-R-Chamberlain-Fans/discussions/29630

    Have a lovely day ^_^

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    1. Great pictures! I love that Anthony Hopkins is your headmaster. :-)

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  11. Oo, you have a character inspired by Chace Crawford, good choice! Haha
    Actually, i like this post, I as toying the other dating with having a character like wither Scotty Mccreery or Tim Tebow but I'm not really sure?

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    1. My favorite picture is that one where he got arrested. Now that's some real emotion on that face, huh? Poor, dumb guy, anyway...

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  12. I do the same thing, only I also print off pictures of specific outfits I want to include (I write historicals, so it's easy to find good photos on costume sites and from movie stills).

    LOL about Hugh Laurie being a "Taskmaster General." That would seem to fit very well. :-D

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  14. I love your character board! I actually made one, too, but I've come to the conclusion that it was only an excuse to look at Lucas Till, because my leading guy looks nothing like him.

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  15. I spy Boone from LOST! lol. Sorry me and my parents watched that TV series, love it :)

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  16. I made a character board for my last novel, but for my current WIP (oh, it's so nice to use that term and be writing again!) I'm using Pinterest. :) Works nicely without the cost of ink. :)

    Beautiful board!

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  17. I love this! When I write a novel, I tend to talk about it on my blog, and so I like to find character visuals for those posts. A character board is an amazing idea - and I love your characters! Of course, all I'd be able to see when looking at Naya Rivera would be her character in Glee, Santana, but so long as it works for you then that's all that matters. :)

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  18. Oh, my gosh, I always do this for my characters! Well, I don't create a real board, but I always save photos onto my computer of actors or models that I think my characters would look like. :) Too funny!

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  19. I use Pinterest to make boards for all of my important characters, as well as settings! Not only do I put pictures of people I think fit the general idea of my character, I can also put in phrases and quotes that I feel describe something about their personality or relationship with another character! It's really useful and it lets you avoid paying for paper and ink to print out stuff.

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