Creation of detailed character models is a very challenging task in animation production. Sketch-based character model creation from a 3D template provides a promising solution. However, how to quickly find correct correspondences between user's drawn sketches and the 3D template model, how to efficiently deform the 3D template model to exactly match user's drawn sketches, and realize real-time interactive modeling is still an open topic. In this paper, we propose a new approach and develop a user interface to effectively tackle this problem. Our proposed approach includes using user's drawn sketches to retrieve a most similar 3D template model from our dataset and marrying human's perception and interactions with computer's highly efficient computing to extract occluding and silhouette contours of the 3D template model and find correct correspondences quickly. We then combine skeleton-based deformation and mesh editing to deform the 3D template model to fit user's drawn sketches and create new and detailed 3D character models. The results presented in this paper demonstrate the effectiveness and advantages of our proposed approach and usefulness of our developed user interface. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.