After working through a couple pages of bad sketches, I found two characters that I kind of liked, so I started trying to develop them a little more. At first, this just involved drawing different variations of their heads and faces:
Once I had a halfway-decent feel for how I wanted their heads to look, I tried some full-body drawings and some different facial angles.
At this point, I made a couple decisions. First, I'd stick to the three-quarter view for these guys, keeping things fairly two-dimensional. (I ran that by my instructor, who reassured me that some cartoon characters simply only "exist" in that perspective.) Second, I really liked the basic round body and tiny stick legs in the third drawing down on the right, so I decided against doing human-shaped characters with birdlike heads. These guys - whoever they were - would have wings and skinny little legs. Once I figured that stuff out, my drawings started to come together pretty quickly, even showing some much-needed personality:
When I finished that page in my sketchbook, for the first time, I felt like I might not be completely out of my depth here. Maybe it's a little weird for a 32-year-old man to get excited about a picture of a bird scratching its ass, but as 32-year-old men go, I'm a little weird, so it fits.
Up Next: Action!