A discovery of headstrong, obstinate girls (or: simple time-travel)

The people in yesterday’s post (Sketching the people glimpsed from the corner of your eye) were all in roughly current clothing, because 75% of the time that is what the people I sketch from life are wearing.


Decorative metal tree/hanger

One of the ways I sometimes develop characters and/or story ideas, however, is to sketch and/or imagine passersby into the clothing of another era. The rules of that game are very simple (see below).

So, for the purposes of the people-less people-watching exercise, and my offhand reference to character design, I picked another style/era for the same experiment:


L-R, top to bottom: Paint-water jug, Cottee’s bottle, kettle, vase of proteas, thermometer, Rork Projects reusable coffee cup, SodaStream.

Similar principles apply, but with the specific constraints of a chosen field of fashion/awareness/visual retention.

They very quickly gain their own opinions, and it is a truth universally acknowledged that young women with decided opinions must be in want of a plot.


The kettle

But neither youth nor beauty are a prerequisite for opinions or designs.


The Cottee’s cordial bottle, again

I find that characters who first appear in motion often gather story to them as they move along.

Writing/Illustration exercises:

  • The original version: If you are in a position to watch other people go by: Choose genre and era, and draw or mentally insert the Very Next Person you see into appropriate clothing. They are now your main character. (For this exercise, it’s important to do it this way — if you pick and choose your hero/ine, or cast people according to type, there are far fewer surprises).
  • The home-alone version: As above, but with the personifications of household appliances (a la yesterday’s post).
  • And then? Find a secondary protagonist by the same method. Give them a little push and put them, with all their attitude, into a sketched or written scene — just a few lines. What are they scheming together? Who are they wrong about?

10 thoughts on “A discovery of headstrong, obstinate girls (or: simple time-travel)

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