Character art in novels

melisande wayfarer
Melisande Flamestouch Character Art

A great deal of this borrows from the article I wrote a short time ago; 5 reasons to get a professional cover artist. The same principles apply, but I’ll be going over a few more in this piece. Also deals with similar concepts to my character sheets article.

Why should you draw your characters?

Whether you draw every day, or just like to doodle from time-to-time, drawing is a great form of release. It can also help cement your ideas and give you a visual platform to work from. Think of it as a character sheet – it will help remind you of your character traits.

When it comes to learning, most people benefit from visuals, when you start out writing a novel, you are learning the characters you create. This is very much so if you write character heavy fiction. So, draw some sketches of the character with his/her clothes items, hair colour, etc. It’s a faster method of generating a character sheet.

2 Reasons why character art should be kept well away from your book:

Imagination… .nation…. nation…. nation… ation… ation

Character art, even on the cover can inhibit the reader’s mind’s eye. When I was a young sprout, and Harry Potter was the business; the picture of him on the front always irritated me. I knew what harry potter looked like, and it wasn’t anything like that little fellow on the cover.

People very easily build characters in their head, and so, having a picture of your protagonist can actually weaken this. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but give a person a ten words, and they’ll imagine ten thousand.


If you should keep character out away from the cover it goes ten fold for inside the book. I toyed the with the idea of a novel with graphics but after a few trial pages I realized the imagery was just distracting. It draws the reader away from the real content and to the image. Which slows down and jars your audience.

The blogovella project

I am currently working on a novella odyssey that I am releasing piece by piece on this ‘ere blog. Each post has artwork drawn by myself that shows characters or a scene. There are a number of reasons for this.

  1. limited time: I have been restricting the entries in the blogovella, trying to keep them short and exciting. Trying not weigh it down with heavy descriptors.
  2. The art is a part of it. While I edit my début high-fantasy novel “Sword of Unity” I am writing the novella to keep me writing new content in the world of Etheros. I decided that I also wanted to keep drawing for the duration so I am forcing myself to make a new piece of cover art for each section, each one in a different style.

Have you ever been jarred by a character design on a book? Do you draw your scenes or characters? Where do you sit on this [minor] issue, for or against character art in literature?

Thanks for reading,



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