Today, I’m going over mental models with simple shapes that will help you draw characters. When you have a mental model to build from, you can draw any age, baby to adult.





Mental models for babies have bigger heads in proportion to their bodies. Limbs can be stubby or skinny. That's kind of style thing. Overall you want your lower limbs to be shorter. You want a bigger head. In terms of stylizing, you can make small bodies with small feet or small hands, stubby arms and legs. You can exaggerate it even more. Depending on how cartoony you want it, and you can play with different sizes and shapes.




When babies get older, their heads don't actually get bigger, but their bodies get longer. Their limbs get longer. Everything grows more. Their heads do get bigger, but not in proportion to everything else that’s growing longer. The mental model for a two-year-old and a five-year-old are pretty much the same. You're using the same shapes, just changing the sizes of the proportions.




The more that you recognize the diversity of shapes, the more you can play around with those. Can you come up with a mental model and proportions for a little girl. Don't worry about pudginess and whatnot. Just really simplify it. Let’s make this kid a little bit older. Or if you want, you can make it more baby-like. I wouldn't really worry about posing right no. I mean, at some point, you have to figure out posing, but it’s better to think of the basic shapes first. That way, you can get the proportions right. Simplify everything to basic shapes. If you can do this, then it's a quick formula for your brain to be able to draw it. You won't have to spend a lot of mental energy figuring out how to draw your characters in the beginning. Then you can really play around with them. From playing and sketching, the next step is to start designing. Once you get this down, as you become more experienced, you won't have to go through as many steps because you’ll already see it in your head.




For teenagers, practice drawing two rectangles the same size, or practice drawing parallel lines that are the same size. When we hold our arms down, our elbows usually hit around our bellybutton. What we're drawing basically looks like those little mannequins that they sell in art stores. Focus on drawing the basic shapes first, so that you can focus on the proportions. If you're unsure what to do with the hands, you can draw straight lines first. Then we can then make the hands into rectangles.




Finally we're going to draw an adult. An adult is taller and wider. Same shapes as our teenager model, but adults are thicker. You’ll also want to have more angles with men because men have less fat. Another way to think about it is that you're drawing tapered lines. As you draw characters, visualize the simple shapes and their proportions to one another. If you're struggling with visualization, we recommend that you watch the YouTube video at the beginning of this post.