© Traci Van Wagoner, All Rights Reserved

Step Two: Character Development

Creating characters for readers to love

Creating a character page of Willie

Thanks for your patience in awaiting the next installment of the creation of Eensy, Teensy, Teddy Bear's Adventure. I had a work deadline interfere with my progress and it wiped me out. I'm getting back into the project and today I'm sharing a peek into my character development process.


After completing to text dummy, it’s time to explore the characters in the book. I take several pages in my sketchbook to play with shapes, sizes, proportions, all trying to capture different personalities and emotions.


Initial sketches for Willie

I doodled many different bears trying to get a feel for how I wanted to portray Willie. Many of his details are dictated by the text. At one point he shakes in his boots, so he needs boots. Another scene he stuffs his pockets with cookies, so he needs pockets somewhere. Besides being teensy, teensy, he’s also woolly and cuddly.


As you may know, (and as you see on the header of my website), I have a blue bear as a sort of company mascot. He appears in every book I’ve illustrated. I must thank Kurt for his donation of his childhood teddy bear to the cause. I wanted Willie to reflect this, but not to actually be Blue Bear. So I made him blue, but gave him his own personality.


Willie character sketech page

After sketchbook pages of doodling and drawing, and after I feel I have exhausted my options (at least for now), I take the sketches I like the best and create a character page for all of the main characters. I started with Willie as the Main Character, showing him from different points of view, angles, actions, emotions and positions he might be found in within the story. Several of these are the starts to scenes that you will see later.


Mom and Dad character pages, exploring their emotions, clothes (or no clothes), and colors.

Mom character page

I'd love to hear if you have preferences for Mom and Dad. Dad in overalls or shirt and boots? Mom in a polka dot dress or an artsy apron?

Dad character page


I hope you enjoyed seeing a glimpse into my character development process. Feel free to ask any questions about my process, or anything else for that matter. Thanks for being here and sharing in my journey!





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