Materials! Here are the things I use the most often:
Sketchbook: Stillman & Birn Gamma (I think 5.5x8.5”). It’s a nice cream-coloured paper, and takes even heavy watercolour washes beautifully. I don’t like their heavy covers, though, so I generally recover it myself with lighter chipboard (this one covered in leather for travel beat-ups), and also round the corners with a corner punch. On the right you can see what the cover usually looks like.
Onto my little zip bag of materials, and where to get such materials:
1. Jetstream 0.7mm ballpoint. I really like sketching and writing with this, even though it gets gloopy from time to time. Smooth and sexy, exactly what people look for in a ballpoint, right? Jetpens.
2. White uni-ball Signo - for pattern details, highlights, etc. Jetpens.
3. Pentel pigment brush in…medium? Small? I don’t remember. Nice, dark waterproof ink. Jetpens.
4. Col-erase, carmine or scarlet red. Most art stores carry this.
5. Pitt Oil-based pencil. Buttery, less smudgy with watercolours than regular graphite. I’ve only been able to find this one at Opus in Canada.
6. Tri-tone coloured pencil - I’ve only started using this recently, but I love the coloured line variations you get with this. Also harder to erase, so I use it to “ink” my col-erase drawings. Most craft/art stores seem to have this, too.
7. Watercolour paints (top two rows) - mostly Daniel Smiths now (WOW these are pigmented), a few W&N and Holbeins to finish, still. danielsmith.com
8. Gouache paints (bottom two rows) - M. Graham. I squeeze all of these out into little half pans and let them dry for transport. Two whites - one opaque one not so much. dickblick.com
9. Derwent Inktense blocks - broke these off to use as transportable ink from time to time. I don’t find myself using these often so I may remove them. dickblick.com
10. Small metal watercolour kit from Kremer Pigments. I’ve removed the middle metal thing that limits you to how many pans it can hold. Not a lot of mixing space but you can’t expect too much for how small it is. I also stuck magnetic tape on the bottom of the half pans to attach them to the palette.
11. Tiny bullet pencil sharpener. dickblick.com
12. Little flat-ish water container (probably originally for oil paints) I use to refill my brushes. Michael’s, art stores.
13. Mono eraser! I used to have to hoard these from Asia any chance I could. Now they’re everywhere.
14. Small Piston waterbrushes. These don’t hold a point super well and I’m always needing to refill, but I like the feel and they don’t constantly leak water like the nylon waterbrushes do. Blue Heron Arts
15. Global canvas pencil case to hold it all! dickblick.com
And of course I forgot to number my disgusting blotting tissue in the back there - I smuggle these from super nice restaurants whenever I get the chance, and they last for years!
And there you go - this kit is small and portable for me and I love it.
Is heterochromia too cliché for a character?
The trait of heterochromia (iridum, I assume) is kind of overused in character design, particularly in manga/anime, because it looks damn cool, and sets a character apart by making them a bit asymmetrical (and there’s nothing wrong with that- it just happens a lot).
However! Whenever people ask me if something is too cliche to use, I start thinking about ways in which something a bit tired or overused could be fresh and useful to a story again.
So, I’ll counter your question with another question: What is heterochromia doing for your character, if they do have it? What is it doing in terms of visual design? Does it have any useful symbolism?
Also, though I’ve seen some real incredible examples of non-human eye colors for people with bicolored eyes, because that’s also a stylistic thing in many animes, I think it’d be good if you looked into the genetics, causes, and reality of heterochromia. For example, eyes can change color after an injury, but do so in somewhat predictable ways. It can also be genetic, and passed down as a dominant trait. There are also a few types of heterochromia, such as sectoral, or central heterochromia. (Read more).
So! I say, if it’s something that you want to do, go for it! Just take some extra time and work to make your character design meaningful and interesting enough that it feels less tired, if you’re worried about a cliche.
Edit: How could I forget, while we’re talking about anime: if you’ve seen Cowboy Bebop, the main character Spike has heterochromia- which isn’t super noticeable, but one eye is a freaking robot eye, and you can kind of tell the imperfect color match in certain lighting/when it’s plot relevant. And oh, is it plot relevant.
GUYS GUYS DO THIS OMG →
#paint tool sai
Once you get all your flats down, throw them in a folder, create a layer above that set to whatever weird blend mode that is (the one like multiply, yo), add a motherfuckin’ fringe set to two (assuming your canvas is like 8.5x11 at 300dpi), and put a layer clip on it.
Then pick this color and…
Lights and Darks: Contrasting Characteristics
Chapter 2 - Character: Casting Shadows (Part 3).
Update: Changed the contrasting characteristics.
Think about people you know. Some may be patient, but have a drinking problem. Your best friend may be cold, blunt and outspoken when you go out to the bar, but will stop to pet rabbits at the park.
Your cousin may be brilliant, hard working and funny at work, but selfish and confrontational at home.
Contrast adds another layer of depth to your character cake.