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How to Create Portraits of Your Fictional Characters

In my last post I mentioned that I was having an artist do portraits of Tommy and Careen. I just got the finished artwork and I’m so excited to share it!

I knew what my characters looked like, but my artist, though he’s talented and awesome, was not a police sketch artist–he needed a photo to work from.

I had seen photos of actors and models who resembled my characters, but I couldn’t use them without permission, and besides, I didn’t want my creations to look exactly like any living person. So I got creative.

I got out a box of old, old photos of long-dead family members. Lucky genealogy is one of my interests! I pored over the images, looking at bone structure and expressions. If you do this, you totally have to ignore hair and clothing styles!

Tommy Bailey bears strong resemblance to my great-great grandfather on my dad’s side of the family. His portrait was made in 1863, just before he enlisted in the Union Army. People in photos from this era rarely smile, because it was hard to hold that expression long enough for their image to be fixed on film. His determined look and the set of his jaw befitted a young soldier. He was a perfect template for Tommy.

Careen Catecher has the lovely cheekbones and eyes of my maternal grandmother. Grandma’s portrait, taken in the late 1930s, is in soft oils, sepia tone. She has glam lipstick and a curly bob, which wasn’t at all how I pictured Careen. But with the updated hairstyle and natural lip color, she’s perfect.

If you’re interested in creating art for your own project, I highly recommend WillNoName, who can be found at

I just ordered a new Counteract book trailer…stay tuned!!

38_boy(1) Careen Caricature

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