Character Concepts and Development

Here you can see how each character has grown and changed, my development process, and how my art skills have improved since I began this project.

Character Studies – Seraphim

Seraphim Clothing Colors

Different color combinations and concepts of Seraphim’s attire. Seraphim may still go through some color adjusting up until production.

Horn Color Studies

In original designs of Seraphim, he could be seen with numerous horns on both his head and face. His large, dragon horns started out as a combination of purple and green; then, they went to a bright, chromatic, ice blue. The neutral brown just feels right and is his final coloration.

Facial Studies

It was brought to my attention by a friend that Seraphim’s unicorn horn didn’t work with the rest of his design. He is supposed to look like a mixture of many creatures; but, my friend suggested I do the unicorn horn in a unique way and have it go in the direction of the other horns. I took his advice and came up with the horn you see now. It is still a twisted unicorn horn, but it is more dragon shaped and unique. Here are some studies of different facial expressions.

Seraphim 2

With this version of Seraphim, I started to get a bit closer to the final design we have today. As I explored his character and personality traits in Joe Murray’s class, I found that he would have more of a slouched posture to go with being self conscious. Joe encouraged me to lose a lot of the extra horns and clean up his design, even though I was stubborn about it for a good while. When I finally relented to removing the horns above his eyebrows, Joe asked if I “really needed the horns on the nose.” I stubbornly said yes; but, as you can see in his update, I eventually removed them and the scaly plating he has on his nose today looks much better.


First practice for page layout of a scene in “The Color of Fire.” This will take place in part 2 of book 1. Lots of edits have been made since this page was sketched out. It will not look like this in the graphic novel.

Seraphim Studies 1

I had a breakthrough drawing while attempting to find the character in action poses and face shapes. When I drew the expression in the top right, I knew I was getting somewhere; Seraphim was finally coming through.

Seraphim Studies 2

Here are some playful sketches trying different features and facial shapes for Seraphim. None of them were right, though.

Seraphim Body Studies

This was an attempt at a model sheet for Seraphim. I also experimented with concepts such as his jaw unhinging like a snake and other characteristics he may have. I didn’t quite know his personality yet, so he is just too happy and blank in his expression here, and his body shape wasn’t right. He has a bit of a paunch, but not that bad, and his chest isn’t so flabby now. I do still like the back view and need to create an updated version showing his anatomy. As you can see in this design, his shoulder spikes used to be longer and one was broken. He also used to have a lot more horns on his head and face. He has been simplified a lot.

Looser Sketches

When attempting to capture Seraphim, I struggled a lot with wanting to draw pretty and perfect. I was encouraged to just find the character and draw loose. These were some sketches further exploring his personality and attempting to find his true essence.


This is the under sketch for the realistic portrait painting that will be on the first cover of “The Color of Fire” graphic novel. This has undergone a lot of changes, but it was one of the closest drawings when I was attempting to capture him realistically.

Seraphim Realistic

Another attempt at capturing Seraphim realistically. He looks too masculine and old here; It just wasn’t right.

Seraphim Study

Here is an old attempt at a realistic portrait of Seraphim drawn sometime after college and before Joe Murray’s Master class. Here you can see all the horns and details on his face he used to have.

Seraphim Color Study

This is a colorized version of the early Seraphim portrait. Seraphim used to have human colored skin in early designs.

Seraphim Early Anatomy

This is a composit image of anatomy sketches done for the original character, Dyllan–which is what Seraphim was once called–for my Illustrative Drawing Class, studying how his skull would look and how his tail attaches to his body, as well as how his wings attach to his shoulder blades. We would go to the zoo every week and study live animals to use in our character creations. I have improved a lot since I drew these, but I still like them. I will be making some updated study sheets of Seraphim.

Annoyed Seraphim

An early Expression/Action pose sketch of Seraphim from my college illustrative drawing class in 2007.

Dyllan Outfits

This was an assignment for my character design class. The teacher wanted us to only draw human characters, but he allowed me to use Seraphim (Dyllan at the time), as long as I made him look a bit more human; so, I removed his tail and wings just for this class. The assignment was to draw the same character in outfits from Medieval, Western, Futuristic, Today, and our own choice.

Dyllan Early Concepts

This was a character color test assignment. We were to draw our character and then test different color combinations. The one we select as the final colors was to be larger. As you can see here, Seraphim used to have very different colors than he does now.

Dyllan Inferno

Here is the drawing that started it all. Back in college, around 2006, I was in an illustration class and I completely forgot to do my homework! The assignment was simply to make up a character and draw it; then, we were going to paint that same character for our next assignment. As my teacher walked around checking people’s homework, I pulled out my sketchpad and furiously drew as fast as I could. I came up with a humorous character with a confusing lineage who is part human, dragon, and a dash of unicorn (which brings out his sensitive side.) On top of that, he has a demon curse. I put horns all over his face, and being very “punny” simply said he was a horny guy. The class liked him and thought he was very funny and wanted to know more. I felt the same way and decided to further explore this character that spawned from my forgetfulness and ability to work well under pressure. Today, we have Seraphim and an entire graphic novel with a brand new cast of characters!

Character Studies – Riley

Riley Sketches

In these sketches, I was trying out different styles and capturing more of his personality and dynamic with Seraphim. These were done before I settled on his current design.

Riley Were Toon

Original model sheet for Riley in his full werewolf form, done for a final project in my character design class at Columbus College of Art and Design. Lots of elements and character study went into this. Even though it is now outdated and revisions to Riley have been made, it still served as a great start in creating the current Riley character design.

Early Toony Riley Human

Early studies of Riley’s human expressions. These were drawn before I had established a consistent facial structure and model of him.

Riley Early Human Gesture Studies

These were some of the first studies I did for Riley. Tried to capture attitude and gesture. Riley was originally Raymond; but, I didn’t like the way it sounded, so it was changed later on.

Riley Anatomy Wolf Form

Character anatomy studies done in my illustrative drawing class.

Riley Werewolf Studies

These are early gestures and studies of Riley’s character and looks from my illustrative drawing class.

Early Riley Gesture Study

Original art using a reference pose I had a model act out. This same pose was later used for the beauty shot for my character model sheet.

Coyote Sketches

Studies drawn from the red wolf sanctuary in Indiana.

Character Studies – Eadelyn

Eadelyn Face

Finalized character face and style concept sketch.

Eadelyn Concept

Playing with styles, proportions, and face shapes.  I felt this sketch was very close to the direction I wanted to go with Eadelyn’s character design; but, it looked a bit too Disney and less like my style, so I pushed it farther.

Character Sketches

First sketches of Eadelyn, a wood nymph, and Grandpa Burnard.

Character Studies – Grandpa Burnard

Grandpa Burnard Concepts

Trying different postures, head shapes, and body types for Grandpa Burnard.

Burnard Anatomy

Early anatomy study done in my illustrative drawing class. I used skeletal reference from dinosaurs, komodo dragons, and bats.

Early Grandpa Burnard

Early gesture sketch of Grandpa Burnard flying. His anatomy has improved greatly since this was drawn.

Animal Studies

Animal gestures and studies drawn from the Columbus Zoo. Grandpa Burnard was inspired by the markhor and komodo dragon.

Character Studies – Anith

Anith Sketch Concepts

Anith is half unicorn and half human. She looks like a beautiful maiden, until you see her face. I am still playing with the merger of horsey and human, and finding the character. I still have a lot more playing with designs to do before I find the true Anith.

Seraphim Mother

Rough digital painting concept of Anith with baby Seraphim.

Character Studies – Lesandra

Lesandra Final Concept

Lesandra Sketch

Early Lesandra concept sketch.

Character Studies – King Kristoff

Character Studies – Mirigor

Mirigor Concept

Mirigor is arrogant and nasty, as seen in his attitude and posture. He came out pretty close in his first sketch. He will undergo some revisions; but, every so often, a character comes out close on the first try.

Character Studies – Sarok


This is a rough character concept sketch of Sarok the centaur. He was drawn while I was taking Joe Murray’s Master class and still has a lot of revisions to go under.

General Studies

Early Character Studies

This was done in my illustrative drawing class to show interaction between the characters. Here Riley is attempting to see if Seraphim’s horns can come off.

Early Character Studies 2

Practice drawing full scenes and characters interacting with the environment, done in illustrative drawing class.

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