Portraits Aren’t Just for People

When I’m trying to come up with animal characters for stories I usually begin by sketching from photos of real animals. For characters Peanut and Crackers, I began the design process by doing portraits of different dog breeds and then simplifying those drawings into cartoon characters. Some of these dogs appear as secondary characters in Book 2 of the series. Stay tuned! 🙂

The three main characters are based on my own pets. Here’s a comparison between actual photos and each cartoon persona I created. If you study animals, they each have funny little personal traits. I tried to incorporate these traits into Puppy Problems.

Crackers character and Crackers inspiration
Peanut character and Peanut inspiration

For example, our cat loves boxes. Our little dog with the button ears whose cartoon persona is Crackers, can’t stand squirrels. Our puppy does this cute little thing where he pauses and lifts one paw when he’s nervous. Peanut does the same thing.

My advice to anyone who wants to create characters and comics, pay attention to the little things. The fun is in the details.

Staying Home with Our Pets

Cracerks and Peanut sleeping

Buddy Barker is this perfect dog and we thought our puppy, Charlie, would learn how to be a grown-up dog from watching Buddy Barker. But that isn’t quite how it worked out. Animals are like people, each with their own unique personality.

Buddy Barker is gregarious and adventurous. He loves to go for rides in the car and for long walks. Charlie, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. He’s shy, nervous around strangers, doesn’t mind a car ride as long as he can hide under the seat, and his favorite walk is from the sofa to the kitchen for a snack. We have lots of nicknames for Charlie: Cuddle Ninja, Velvet Monster (because his fur is very soft), Chucky Cheese, and Land Shark (because he loves to chew sticks).

Over the past year, we’ve learned to comfort Charlie and make him feel safe when he gets nervous or scared. And now, ironically, he’s doing the same for us. When I feel down or worried as soon as Charlie cuddles in my lap I feel better.

It’s sort of an odd time right now, with schools closing early and parents working from home. It’s a good time to have the comfort of four-legged friends like Charlie, Buddy Barker, and Otis.