Drawing from the outside allows me to focus on shape and overall proportions instead of sweating details. Drawing silhouettes is a very quick process, thanks to the symmetry tool in Autodesk Sketchbook. The symmetry tool is a good first start for playing with proportions and shape, but I don’t exclusively rely on it. (The drawings that it generates tend to be stiff and mechanical.)
After a few warm-up symmetry sketches, I shift to working out character poses. It gives me an idea of how the character will move, and also allows me to think about the character’s attitude, by way of his pose. For the Er’mli character, I focused primarily on body shape, and didn’t concern myself with his costume. I did play around with the character’s hair, almost making it a focal point for a few of the sketches shown below. I tried to keep the character’s hair wavy and full of flow, to mimic water waves. With my sketches, I wanted to vary proportions by using a combination of large, medium and small shapes. This consideration is to give the character some visual rhythm.
I studied body builder reference poses to help with anatomy, but I also looked at the hooded shape of the cobra and the bulbous body shape of the chameleon to inform a few of the sketches. These are by no means final sketches – they are my initial explorations, and serve as a starting point for developing my concept of the character further.