what is your advice for the best practice in designing your own characters? I"m trying to teach myself to draw and so far all I can even attempt is looking at something and replicating it. I want to be able to say hey I made that without a reference.
First of all: using references is perfectly fine. It’s been said a thousand times, but how can you draw something if you don’t know how it’s made? You look at other people - yes, pics are ok too - and you replicate them with your own style. With time and practice (a lot of time and practice), you learn to tweak features, or mix this nose with that mouth. Art takes inspiration from real life, just like novels, poems and everything else. So, never be ashamed to use references, all right?
Now… if we wanna talk about how to make an interesting character, with interesting face features, well, i’m afraid you’re asking the wrong person :P My Ellyna is basically me, with bigger eyes, squarer chin and wavy hair XD
Most of the times I draw her (and every time I make interesting and lively portraits of her) I take pics of myself and use them as a reference.
If you’re interested in creating many characters who are not all alike, I would suggest practicing to draw a lot of different faces, especially if they’re out of your comfort zone; there are a lot of websites/blogs like http://portraitsfordrawing.tumblr.com/ that list portrait pics for exactly this use. It will help you recognize and memorize different face features, giving your brain tons of material to put together a lot of new faces :3
Well, I hope I helped you at least a little bit ^^ I wish you a lovely day, and never give up, ok? *hugs*