CDQ Magazine Vol1 Cover

Review: Character Design Quarterly Magazine by 3DTotal Publishing

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You won’t find many digital art magazines nowadays since most new content is published online.

But I still love print work, especially when it’s done well. Character Design Quarterly deserves praise for venturing into this realm as a periodical on digital art and visual development.

I’m only reviewing the first issue of this magazine as an intro to what it offers. New issues are released each quarter so it’s best to check the main site for subscription details.

But my first impression is this magazine covers so much in the way of digital art tips.

You’ll find advice on character design, naturally. But also tips for illustration and visual development along with specific techniques in drawing clear emotions, facial expressions, thumbnails, and tips for finding a good color palette.

What’s Inside?

The first issue has around 100 pages packed with beautiful drawings and paintings.

It seems like you can’t turn any page without finding a whole slew of sketches and digital paintings to admire. So this comes with plenty of inspiration for artists.

CDQ example tutorial character design
Photo by Concept Art Empire

But this also reads like a real art magazine with sections for tutorials, guides, interviews, art galleries, and little snippets from the magazine’s editor Annie Moss.

In this first edition you’ll find 12 different sections on varying topics. Here are some of my favorites that stand out:

  • Meet the artist: Amanda Jolly(animation character designer)
  • How to exaggerate believable emotions
  • A tutorial on designing pirate characters
  • Design a character based on a small narrative description
  • Studio Profile of Blue Zoo

The interviews are super fun to read and they’re full of valuable tips for artists. Not to mention a ton of beautiful artwork.

CDQ Meet The Artist magazine segment
Photo by Concept Art Empire

But it’s the tutorials that fill up the majority of these pages and leave my mouth watering for the second issue.

There’s over 5 different tutorials in this issue and they’re all superb. You get to see drawings and paintings at each stage of the design along with written tips to help you follow along.

Each section typically focuses on one artist with practical advice you can apply to your work.

For example there’s a chapter on “capturing a character’s essence” with stylized artist Simone Grünwald.

She offers a ton of sketches and digital paintings along with advice on analyzing subjects, selecting colors, and knowing when to abandon or refine an idea.

CDQ Simone Grunewald interview
Photo by Concept Art Empire

And there are more specific tutorials like one from artist Brett Bean who talks about working from a brief and generating ideas from a limited set of instructions.

This is useful information for any artist whether you want to work freelance or in-studio.

On the job you’ll often be following advice from art directors or clients. This means you’ll need to learn how to keep your creativity while also working with the constraints of each project.

Keep in mind this magazine is not going to teach you the absolute basics of character design. That’s really for other books to handle.

With Character Design Quarterly you’re learning real-world professional tips and techniques to apply to your professional work.

CDQ Octopus tutorial by Brett Bean
Photo by Concept Art Empire

And you don’t need to be a full time artist to make use of this valuable info.

Just note it does help if you’re already comfortable doing your own artwork and know your way around a pencil(or tablet).

Who’s This Magazine For?

You may be wondering if it’s worth subscribing to CDQ. There’s a lot here and it’s tough to say whether you’d love it or not.

But I can tell you what it offers and share my thoughts on who would most enjoy this content.

CDQ primarily targets intermediate-to-advanced artists who want to improve their artistic design skills.

You can do art as a hobby, as a career, or somewhere in the middle. Doesn’t matter much so long as your goal is to become a better artist.

Now if you specifically love entertainment art like character design, visual development, storyboarding, concept art… then you’re the prime target for this magazine.

Simply Expressions tutorial in CDQ Magazine
Photo by Concept Art Empire

The only question is would you want this delivered to your doorstep every 3 months?

If you’re looking for artistic inspiration and practical advice then you’ll enjoy the subscription.

Every page is packed full of artwork from a wide variety of artists and there’s so much to glean from every issue.

Same goes for anyone who loves drawing & digital painting. In fact, this book takes their tutorials one step further than the stuff you find online.

Instead of teaching you how to draw something step-by-step you’ll instead learn how to think about your work. How to design characters, how to create emotions, personalities, outfits, and how to truly become a designer.

Anyone brand new to art may still enjoy this book. But the tutorials will be tougher to follow.

Still there’s a bunch of high-quality interviews you can enjoy along with galleries of awe-inspiring work.

Pirate Character design tutorial in CDQ
Photo by Concept Art Empire

Overall Character Design Quarterly is a treasure trove of beauty & inspiration for anyone who loves digital art.

You can pick up volume 1 on Amazon to see what it offers if you’d like to try it before subscribing. And you can learn more on the Kickstarter page if you want to get a behind-the-scenes look at how this magazine came to be.

Or you can browse all current issues from the 3DTotal website where you can also subscribe for a full year.

I highly recommend this magazine for anyone who loves creative art & illustration.

CDQ strikes an elegant balance of tutorials, practical guides, creative ideas, and interviews offering a smörgåsbord of inspiration for hungry artists.

If that all sounds awesome then definitely check it out.

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Character Design Quartlery Issue 01 Cover
Photo by Concept Art Empire