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About Deviant Tracy ButlerFemale/United States Groups :iconlackadaisycats: LackadaisyCats
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Lackadaisy Switchback by tracyjb Lackadaisy Switchback :icontracyjb:tracyjb 1,058 78 Lackadaisy Noir by tracyjb Lackadaisy Noir :icontracyjb:tracyjb 2,571 86 Lackadaisy Look-see by tracyjb Lackadaisy Look-see :icontracyjb:tracyjb 1,078 75 Lackadaisy Dream-diary by tracyjb Lackadaisy Dream-diary :icontracyjb:tracyjb 1,708 161 Lackadaisy Heebie-jeebies by tracyjb Lackadaisy Heebie-jeebies :icontracyjb:tracyjb 1,239 72 Lackadaisy Catapult by tracyjb Lackadaisy Catapult :icontracyjb:tracyjb 3,309 138 Lackadaisy Liaison by tracyjb Lackadaisy Liaison :icontracyjb:tracyjb 2,228 227 Lackadaisy Winterling by tracyjb Lackadaisy Winterling :icontracyjb:tracyjb 3,569 106 Lackadaisy Farce Awakens by tracyjb Lackadaisy Farce Awakens :icontracyjb:tracyjb 5,416 262 Lackadaisy Fordor by tracyjb Lackadaisy Fordor :icontracyjb:tracyjb 3,381 107 Lackadaisy Calculation by tracyjb Lackadaisy Calculation :icontracyjb:tracyjb 3,962 91 Lackadaisy Jazzwitch by tracyjb Lackadaisy Jazzwitch :icontracyjb:tracyjb 4,287 102 Lackadaisy Doggerel by tracyjb Lackadaisy Doggerel :icontracyjb:tracyjb 1,550 117 Lackadaisy Lucidity by tracyjb Lackadaisy Lucidity :icontracyjb:tracyjb 3,323 92 Lackadaisy Morphia by tracyjb Lackadaisy Morphia :icontracyjb:tracyjb 2,874 139 Lackadaisy Civility by tracyjb Lackadaisy Civility :icontracyjb:tracyjb 1,260 67


The P's in a pod (lackadaisy oc 2) by NursePuppo The P's in a pod (lackadaisy oc 2) :iconnursepuppo:NursePuppo 43 0 Homegrown Lackadaisy by KylerInvention Homegrown Lackadaisy :iconkylerinvention:KylerInvention 30 0 Lackaball by PotatoHunchback Lackaball :iconpotatohunchback:PotatoHunchback 10 0 Mitzi by DragongirlieKayKat Mitzi :icondragongirliekaykat:DragongirlieKayKat 8 0 Picture by DragongirlieKayKat Picture :icondragongirliekaykat:DragongirlieKayKat 5 0 Persian cat ( me )  by Jack-Lila-27 Persian cat ( me ) :iconjack-lila-27:Jack-Lila-27 7 13 Rockey action figure by BigBoss1233 Rockey action figure :iconbigboss1233:BigBoss1233 4 0 Rocky Rickaby by CZProductions Rocky Rickaby :iconczproductions:CZProductions 14 0 Lackadaisy dorks by Plagey Lackadaisy dorks :iconplagey:Plagey 20 9 The Warrior, The Tornado, And The Freckle by AgentOfTheMessiah The Warrior, The Tornado, And The Freckle :iconagentofthemessiah:AgentOfTheMessiah 12 6 Wick v.s. the Duck by PotatoHunchback Wick v.s. the Duck :iconpotatohunchback:PotatoHunchback 8 3 Mitzi May-Drawing by FlapperFoxy Mitzi May-Drawing :iconflapperfoxy:FlapperFoxy 49 27 Lackadaisy fan cat by Enkida Lackadaisy fan cat :iconenkida:Enkida 8 0 Cat Rogue Ezra (Lackadaisy'd) by AirFreshenerFuture Cat Rogue Ezra (Lackadaisy'd) :iconairfreshenerfuture:AirFreshenerFuture 28 9 Lackadaisy Firefight by A-Fox-Of-Fiction Lackadaisy Firefight :icona-fox-of-fiction:A-Fox-Of-Fiction 34 5 Mitzi May by GardeniaSnughop Mitzi May :icongardeniasnughop:GardeniaSnughop 7 0


Lackadaisy on Patreon

Journal Entry: Fri Aug 11, 2017, 6:35 PM
Uh...something's up with the Journal widget here. Apologies for the repeat journal entry. I tried to edit my old one and it disappeared entirely.

I've recently left my job in the game industry so that I could focus more of my time and attention on Lackadaisy.  Patreon is my weapon of choice in trying to see this to fruition.

If more Lackadaisy comic updates, illustrations, tutorials, mini-comics, books and other things interests you, please do check it out!

Support Lackadaisy on Patreon

Notes on Character Design

I received the question pictured below at my tumblr blog.  In case it's useful to anyone here, I decided to go ahead and use this otherwise dormant journal to share the article I put together in response.

character design question

Character design and drawing are tome-sized topics and even if I had all the answers (I don't - I have a lot to learn), I'm not sure I could communicate them effectively. Here are some thoughts an ideas that might help, though.

First, some general things...

- Relax.
Let some of that anxiety go. This isn't a hard science. There's no wrong way, no rigid process you must adhere to, no shoulds or shouldn'ts except those you designate for yourself. This is one of the fun parts of being an artist, really - have a heady good time with it.

- Be patient.
A design is something gradually arrived at. It takes time and iteration and revision. You'll throw a lot of stuff away, and you'll inevitably get frustrated at times, but bear in mind the process is both inductive and deductive. Drawing the wrong things is part of the path toward drawing the right thing.

cat sketches

- Learn to draw.
It might seem perfunctory to say, but I'm not sure everyone's on the same page about what this means. Learning to draw isn't a sort of rote memorization process in which, one by one, you learn a recipe for humans, horses, pokemon, cars, etc. It's much more about learning to think like an artist, to develop the sort of spacial intelligence that lets you observe and effectively translate to paper, whatever the subject matter. When you're really learning to draw, you're learning to draw anything and everything. Observing and sketching trains you to understand dimension, form, gesture, mood, how anatomy works, economy of line; all of the foundational stuff you will also rely on to draw characters from your imagination. So, spend some time honing your drawing ability. Hone it with observational sketching. Hone it good.

  • I don't think I've ever seen anyone do this sort of thing better than Claire Wendling. In fact, character designs emerge almost seamlessly from her gestural sketches. It'd be worth looking her up.

- Gather inspiration like a crazed magpie.
What will ultimately be your trademark style and technique is a sort of snowball accumulation of the various things you expose yourself to, learn and draw influence from. To that effect, Google images, tumblr, pinterest and stock photo sites are your friends. When something tingles your artsy senses - a style, a shape, a texture, an appealing palette, a composition, a pose, a cool looking animal, a unique piece of apparel, whatever - grab it. Looking at a lot of material through a creative lens will make you a better artist the same way reading a lot of material makes a better writer.
It'll also devour your hard drive and you will try and fail many times to organize it, but more importantly, it'll give you a lovely library of ideas and motivational shinies to peruse when you're conjuring characters.

- Imitate.
It's a powerful learning tool. Probably for many of us, drawing popular cartoon characters was the gateway habit that lured us into the depraved world of character design to begin with. I wouldn't suggest limiting yourself to one style or neglecting your own inventions to do this, but it's an effective way to limber up, to get comfortable drawing characters in general, and to glean something from the thought processes of other artists.

- Use references.
Don't leave it all up to guessing. Whether you're trying to design something with realistic anatomy or something rather profoundly abstracted from reality, it's helpful in a multitude of ways to look at pictures. When designing characters, you can infer a lot personality from photos, too.
horse reference horses

And despite what you might have heard, having eyeballs and using them to look at things doesn't constitute cheating. There's no shame in reference material. There's at least a little shame in unintentional abstractions, though.


Concepts and Approach:

- Break it down
Sometimes you have the look of a character fleshed out in your mind before putting it to paper, but usually not. That doesn't mean you have to blow your cortical fuses trying conceive multiple diverse designs all at the same time, though. You don't even have to design the body shape, poses, face, and expressions of a single character all at once. Tackle it a little at a time.

The cartoony, googly eyed style was pre-established for the simple mobile game goblin character below, but I still broke it into phases. Start with concepts, filter out what you like until you arrive at a look, experiment with colors, gestures and expressions.

Carl the goblin accountant cyber-monkey-death-bots

- Start with the general and work toward the specific.
Scribbling out scads of little thumbnails and silhouettes to capture an overall character shape is an effective way begin - it's like jotting down visual notes. When you're working at a small scale without agonizing over precision and details, there's no risk of having to toss out a bunch of hard work, so go nuts with it. Give yourself a lot of options.

Above sample silhouettes from an old cancelled project in which I was tasked with designing some kind of cyber monkey death bot. I scratched out some solid black shapes then refined some of them a step or two further.


- Shapes are language.
They come preloaded with all sorts of biological, cultural and personal connotations. They evoke certain things from us too. If you’re ever stuck about where to go with your design, employ a sort of anthroposcopy along these lines - make a visual free association game out of it. It’ll not only tend to result in a distinguished design, but a design that communicates something about the nature of the character.

Think about what you infer from different shapes. What do they remind you of? What personalities or attitudes come to mind? How does the mood of a soft curve differ from that of a sharp angle? With those attributes attached, how could they be used or incorporated into a body or facial feature shape? What happens when you combine shapes in complementary or contrasting ways? How does changing the weight distribution among a set of shapes affect look and feel? Experiment until a concept starts to resonate with the character you have in mind or until you stumble on something you like.

Lucky Charms rejects

If you don’t have intent, take the opposite approach - draw some shapes and see where they go. (It’s stupid fun.)

monster shapes

- Cohesion and Style.
As you move from thumbnails to more refined drawings, you can start extrapolating details from the general form. Look for defining shapes, emergent themes or patterns and tease them out further, repeat them, mirror them, alternate them. Make the character entirely out of boxy shapes, incorporate multiple elements of an architectural style, use rhythmically varying line weights - there are a million ways to do this

Here's some of the simple shape repetition I've used for Lackadaisy characters.

And for potato shaped characters, use potato shaped shapes.

- Expressions.
Let them emerge from your design. If your various characters have distinguishing features, the expressions they make with those features will distinguish them further. Allow personality to influence expressions too, or vice versa. Often, a bit of both happens as you continue drawing - physiognomy and personality converge somewhere in the middle.

For instance, Viktor’s head is proportioned a little like a big cat. Befitting his personality, his design lets him make rather bestial expressions. Rocky, with his flair for drama, has a bit more cartoon about him. His expressions are more elastic, his cheeks squish and deform and his big eyebrows push the boundaries of his forehead. Mitzi is gentler all around with altogether fewer lines on her face. The combination of her large sleepy eyes and pencil line brow looked a little sad and a little condescending to me when I began working out her design - ultimately those aspects became incorporated into her personality.


I discuss expression drawing in more detail here (click the image for the link):


- Poses.
Rendering poses is another one of those things for which observational/gesture drawing comes in handy. Even if you’re essentially scribbling stick figures, you can get a handle on natural looking, communicative poses this way. Stick figure poses make excellent guidelines for plotting out full fledged character drawings too.

Look for the line of action. It’ll be easiest to identify in poses with motions, gestures and moods that are immediately decipherable. When you’ve learned to spot it, you can start reverse engineering your own poses around it.

line of action

- Additional resources.
Here are some related things about drawing poses and constructing characters (click the images for the links).




Tortured rumination about lack of ability/style/progress is a near universal state of creative affairs. Every artist I have known and worked with falls somewhere on a spectrum between frustration in perpetuity and a shade of fierce ongoing contrition that'd make Arthur Dimmesdale wince. So, next time you find yourself constructing a scourge out of all those crusty acrylic brushes you failed to clean properly, you loathsome, deluded hack, you, at least remember you’re not alone in feeling that way. When it’s not crushing the will to live out of you, the device does have its uses - it keeps you self-critical and locked in working to improve mode. If we were all quite satisfied with our output, I suppose we’d be out of reasons to try harder next time.

When you need some reassurance, compare old work to new. Evolution is gradual and difficult to perceive if you’re narrowed in on the nearest data point, but if you’ve been steadily working on characters for a few months or a year, you’ll likely see a favorable difference between points A and B.

Most of all, don’t dwell on achieving some sort of endgame in which you’re finally there as a character artist. There’s no such place - wherever you are, there is somewhere else. It’s a moving goal post. Your energy will be better spent just enjoying the process…and that much will show in the results.


Add a Comment:
KDNightstar Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
You are an amazing, amazing artist!  :)  It's an honor to be on the same planet with you!
BlackStarWolf100 Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2018
I love your lackadaisy comic and how you dress the male cats in suits. :deviantart:
chrisredfield1994 Featured By Owner May 22, 2018
I like your page
FerrerasBS Featured By Owner May 22, 2018  New Deviant Professional General Artist
WOW! WOW! What's that? Woman, I don't have words to express my feelings about your art style. Lovely, EPIC!
IronBroFst Featured By Owner May 21, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
What's was your inspiration behind drawing cat people anyhow?
(Honest question BTW)
FlapperFaun Featured By Owner May 14, 2018  New Deviant Hobbyist Digital Artist
You are the bees-knees, the cats meow, you are just WOW! Amazing art, style, colors... thank you for bringing your art to us all, truly a pleasure to browse your gallery! ♥♥
Jdueler11 Featured By Owner May 8, 2018
Hey, Tracy. Do you know who really killed Atlas May? You don't have to tell me who. A simple "Yes" or "No" would be fine.
FoxyNalie Featured By Owner Edited Apr 21, 2018  Student Traditional Artist
I'm really wondered do you have opened commissions?
AgentOfTheMessiah Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2018
Oh. My. God.

You faved my artwork!!! HOLY CRAP!!!!

Thank You SOOOOOO Much for the fave on  The Warrior, The Tornado, And The Freckle by AgentOfTheMessiah

It means a lot! It was my first time drawing here two awesome characters and I really wanted to capture your art style! You having faved this proves I've done a damn good job!

Love ur work a lot! Amazing colorful characters. intriguing plot lines. You capture the essences of 1920s America. Keep it up! I'll be making more of this stuff for you! 

Jdueler11 Featured By Owner Edited Apr 20, 2018
What do you think, Tracy? At the rate it's going, could Lackadaisy make a good movie or Netrix series?
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