Character Design Basics for 2D Animation | Shirhan Manan | Skillshare

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Character Design Basics for 2D Animation

teacher avatar Shirhan Manan, Animator / Illustrator

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

8 Lessons (37m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Tools

    • 3. Warm Up

    • 4. Quick Sketch

    • 5. Constructing the Head and Face

    • 6. A Quick Torso

    • 7. Arms and Hands

    • 8. Legs and Feet

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About This Class


Drawing characters can be tough. It can be even more challenging designing characters for animation. With many different styles of animation ranging from stop-motion to hand drawn traditional, 2D puppet to 3D animation, creating characters for these various styles requires specific design methods to achieve the look and feel that successfully helps support the animation style efficiently.

In this class, I will be focusing specifically on designing for 2D animation using free software called Autodesk Sketchbbok. However, you can follow along with any software of your choice, or even just use pencil and paper. It's highly recommended that you use a drawing tablet if you are working digitally. There are many ways and methods to designing characters. There is no right or wrong way. I will simply be showing you my method of character creation.

Class Outline

  • Tools. A brief overview of the tools used in this class.
  • Warm up. Warming up before you start, so you can perform more efficiently.
  • Quick sketching. Before we dive into drawing a refined character, we will quickly sketch out a very rough character to layout the ground work for clean up.
  • Constructing the head. Using simple shapes to construct the head and facial features of our character.
  • The torso. Using simple shapes to create the characters torso.
  • Arms and hands. Simple shapes to define arms and hands.
  • Legs and feet. Using shapes to create the legs and feet and using simple stylized design solutions for details.

Meet Your Teacher

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Shirhan Manan

Animator / Illustrator


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1. Introduction: welcome to the character design for two year animation. Class drawing characters can be tough. It can be even more challenging. Designing characters for animation with many different styles of animation, ranging from stop motion to hand drawn traditional animation. Two D puppet animation 23 D animation. Creating characters for these various styles require specific design methods to achieve the look and feel that successfully help support the animation stall you are creating in this class, I will be focusing specifically on designing for two D animation. Feel free to follow along with any software of your choice or even just use pencil and paper. There are many ways and methods to designing characters. There's no right or wrong way. I will simply be showing you my method of character creation. I will be occurring. Some of the tools I will be using warming up before we start roughing out the character cleanup, designing the face, the torso, hands and feet. And by the end of the class, you should have a character design that you are happy with. 2. Tools: for this class, I will be using ordered a sketchbook. It is a free application that you can download from sketchbook dot com. However you can use any other application that suits you or even pencil and paper. I'll briefly go over some of the tools I will be using. Over here is the toolbar. By clicking this button over here, this little window pops up with various brush options. As you can see, I have these colored pencils. These are free. Brush it that can be downloaded from order disk. They have a real nice pencil feel to them. I like using them a lot. There are a number of calls to choose from. Also, another tool I will be using a lot is the razor. We will be jumping from pencil to raise a quite often by pressing the S key on the keyboard . You can alternate between your previous tool. Since the pencil was my previous store, it will change to the pencil by pressing s on the keyboard again. It will change back to my razor. As you can see here, I'm sketching with the pencil and quickly switching back to the razor and back to the pencil tool again to zoom in, press and hold the space spot on your keyboard. Keep holding the space bar and press and hold down the magnifying glass and drag right or left to zoom in and out. Similar to zooming. You can rotate the canvas by holding down the space bar and then holding down the rotation button by right heading the canvas. It helps you to find the best drawing angle for you. Now we just right at my canvas back and see him back out. Another tour will be using quite often is the quick transform tool. Simply click on it, and then you can draw a selection around an object. Once you've made your selection, hold down the wiki in the pop up disk holding dragged scale button like so. Or we can hold and drag the rotation button to rotate. You can also scale horizontally or vertically with this scale button. Here I am, scaling horizontally. These little arrows on the outer edge of the disc allows you to move your selection. I'll quickly demonstrate some of the techniques we have just lent. Let's press s to get back to my pencil. We can start sketching press s to switch to a razor and started raising like that. Yes. Again to switch back to the pencil. Let's press the alky to select a quick transform tool, make out selection, hold down V and will scale it up. It will move it around. They will rotate it as to switch back to the pencil. Here is another handy tool that we can use to manipulate out at work. First, I'll press out to make my selection. Then I will select this. Distort all this will display a box. We can distort the image by moving these little handles around like so, click on the tick to confirm the changes and, well, that's pretty much it. I'll quickly turned this into a character I'll just quickly drawing his eyes and a nose. Oh, and another tool I nearly forgot to mention when Holly down this space bar, you can move your whole canvas around by dragging on these arrows just seeming a little bit and I can move it around like Sai are just quickly sketching this character, sketching some of his eyebrows. Okay, so I'm gonna make a selection and I'm going Teoh manipulate his I'm gonna change the shape of it. And then I think I'll Ah, movies and nose down a little bit, holding down the wiki and moving his nose down, drawing his little mouth. And there you go. 3. Warm Up: in this video. Listen, let's talk about warm up like anything else, such as playing a sport. It's always best to warm up. The same thing goes withdrawing, so let's warm up By drawing some straight diagonal lines. Try to keep them as straight as possible. It's always best practice to use your arm and not your wrist. And now let's practice them from the opposite direction. Now let's practice some circles just quick circles, some big ones and some small ones. Just quickly just get you your muscles or warmed up. Draw some small ones like, say, Now let's move on, Teoh. Some straight vertical lines. They don't have to be perfect, but try to keep them as straight as possible. And now let's move on to some horizontal lines. And now we can practice some s coves, just some quick s curves, and let's practice some some more curves in this direction and then practice from the other direction. Just keep filling up the page with you no circles and lines just to warm up, and then we're ready to start drawing. See you in the next video 4. Quick Sketch: in this lesson. Let's start by doing a quick sketch. I'm gonna start by drawing a circle, so I'm keeping things really rough and loose. We don't want to get into into too much detail just yet, so I'll just quickly sketching his jaw line and then all sketch in his ear. At this stage, you just want to get the basic shapes down of our character. So now I'm gonna draw his torso as you can see him really, really loose, not really paying much attention to any details just yet. That will come later. So we're just trying to figure out his body proportions. No drawing his legs, just simple shapes. Do his feet. I'll just do simple triangular shapes for his feet for now. And now we'll move on to the arms. Just some straight lines in a simple shape for the hand. I'm just gonna reposition his head on a scale it up just a little bit and then all rotated slightly and say, This is the beauty of working digitally. You can really going to make changes very easily. I'm liking the body proportion so far, so let's start adding in a little bit of detail. Still gonna keep it rough. I mean, these slaves and he's out of sleeve. As you can see, it's very, very, very rough. What I'll do here is I'm just gonna shift his legs over a little bit. He looks a bit off balance. That looks about right. Okay, let's move on to the face, draw some ire lines. So these guidelines will help me drawing in these eyes. Two big ovals for his eyes. And that is his right eye, his right eyes much smaller than his left eye because he's heads kind of turning away from us. So he's right. Eyes actually further away in perspective to refine his jaw line. This is a me in a bit. So what I'm doing now is I'm just doing these lines fanning out from his eyes. This will just help guide me where to position in the library. I'm pretty happy with that. Do his hairline. Gonna keep his hair fairly simple. Got really, really short here. Now we'll move on teas knows, and then his mouth not make him smile. He's a happy little kid. Now that I'm looking at it, I'll just movies, nose and mouth up just a touch. So far, so good. Just going in and tweaking it a bit that zoom out and have a look. See if you like it now. Little dairies are got to image and I'll click on Mira Leah. Now that will flip the image the other way. This way, you get to see your drawing in a different perspective. Fresh eyes. You can really pick things out. Things that are wrong really stand out one when you flip it. So what I'll do is I'll use my transform tool, and I'll just skew him just slightly just to make it look right. And then I'll just flipping again to check. He still looks fine. Not bad. But what I think I'll do is I will rotate him slightly. Looks like he's leaning forward a bit too much. And then I'll just flip him again just to check that it works. Flipped as well. That looks good to me. What sweeping back. Now I'm going to rename my layer. It's always good to be organized, and I'll just name these rough, you know? Okay. And now we can move on to the next stage. See you in the next video 5. Constructing the Head and Face: All right, now let's move on to constructing the head. So what I'm doing here is I'm just gonna make a selection around the head and I'm just going to scale it up just a little on a little bit of a big head. Now I'm gonna add a new layer by clicking on this button over here. I'm going to use a different color to refine the character. And I'm just gonna lower the opacity of this layer the original rough layer and then back onto my new layer. I'll start constructing the head. So here I'm really going to try and do some nice clean lines and really refine the shapes. I'm still drawing pretty rough, but much cleaner. So I'm just gonna rotate my canvas, liken drawing its curved much, easily rotated back, get the right angle. It's just like drawing with paper. Just say, Ming, let's move on to the I when I'm doing this kind of clean up off the character. I usually like to zoom in a bit closer so you can get writing there and get all the details ing and I just take my time. There's no need to rush. Just gonna fix up his cheek here cause I want to the bottom of his eye to be the top of his cheek. Clean that up a little bit more, kind of soften it. That looks pretty good to me. And, oh, use the bottom off the I As a reference to where the year ends, KP is really, really simple. Just a single line to show some of the definition of his ear. I will write Take my campus again. So I came easily, drawing in his hairline, connected up to his ear, right tape back. I'm going to draw in his eyebrows, continue on with his nose, then move on to his mouth. So I am loosely following the rough sketch underneath, just making it a bit more cleaner and being a bit more precise with my line work, even though it's still pretty rough. So he I wanna actually open his mouth up just a little bit more. That looks pretty good. Zoom out and have a look, feeling his neck. So what I've done is I've decided to make his neck get a little bit thicker as it connects to his head. Just continue refining the lines, make sure you're happy with the overall shape. I'm just gonna fix up the shape of his head, try to get a nice curve going in. I'm pretty happy with that. I'm just gonna fix up. His hairline thing was a little bit too close to his eye. Brown, Just bring that in a little bit. And if you notice I constantly zoom in and out to check out looking overall, you can going and refine the eyes even more. Just give a bit of a thicker line. Well, just drawing in the whites of these peoples and our shading, these peoples zoom out, have a look well, adding his tongue. So I'm just going to make a selection around his face. Let's move it up slightly. They can see the rough drawing underneath. It's not exactly the same. I get to make these decisions in and make the character look even better now that I'm a baby's face up. It was too close to the hairline, so I'll just redraw that hairline a little bit higher is your mouth. Let's have a look on a fix This part of his face again, I'm not really happy with it. One is for her to go out a little bit more and because I moved his eyes up all after me. If he's cheek the top of his cheek up a swell zem out again, that's looking pretty good. I'm really happy with that. See you in the next video. 6. A Quick Torso: moving on to the torso. The torso is fairly simple. I just think of it as a long cylinder. So just start sketching in his shoulders, kind of rounding it out of it, and I'm gonna draw right through keeping the shoulders slightly rounded. This will help out during the rigging in animation. This is probably the easiest part off this whole tutorial. So over here, these aware the shoulders will be connected. Rotate my canvas around and finish off the horse. I It's as easy as that. That was pretty quick. All right, let's move on to the next video. 7. Arms and Hands: Let's stop the arms in the hands before we start sketching the arms. There are several ways we could think about it, depending on the joints on these. Like how his elbow a little queen. His arm is bent. So basically the upper arm in the forearm. When they intersect, it'll create likely circle shape. And that will create a nice rounded elbow when his arm bins. All right, let's start drawing. I'll just add a new layer, sketching his arm, going to the slave and notice. I've kind of curved the bottom of the sleeve just slightly. It's nice to have nice curves, just straight lines. I'll just write about this excess lines, always using the SK to toggle between my pencil and eraser. It's really helpful. All right, let's begin the other arm again, just drawing right through the character and on a make sure the slave lines up with the previous leave. You always have to be double checking, making sure everything works and lines up correctly. So with this, um, what I'll do is I'll just select it, and I am going to move it over slightly. That looks good. Now let's move on to the hands, So I'm going to start with a little box for the palm simple shape for the thumb. So I am destroying and really roughly, and I'll start refining it soon, and I just do another smaller box. So fingers and then I just divide that up into the actual fingers. And then I can just go in any race. It was refined more on an angle, the side of his palms down, a little more definition to his fingers. So the middle finger is obviously the longest in the pinky is the shorter's gotta keep that in mind curve. The thumb doesn't look too bad. We'll refine it even further. Zoom right back in again, and I'm going toe. Start in racing very lightly and clean it up even more. And to really, really hard to draw. Now I'm drawing in all the individual fingers, right turn this pinking slightly. It's not the best hand in the world, but it will do, and I'm thinking about this. Curves well with fingers. Join me the actual palm and over here this is how the hand, whatever lapped the forearm and you can see that circle. That's what all rotate from once we reach the character. Now let's move on to the other hand, because off the way he's positioned, I'll have this hand side on a similar thing. Little rectangle with a palm and another rectangle for his fingers on just another thumb. All very rough and loose. Oh, going and clean this up. Soon only three things will be visible. These pinky will be behind all that. Now. I'm just going to start raising its software, and then I can go in with some clean lines, a slight curve on the fingertips. You can see how I've made the thumb. That's the family is broken up into basically 22 little sections with the thumb Benz. Add a little bit of a dip in the line there to show that just clean it up a little. It looks pretty good to me. Make sure these line up. They line up pretty well. Let's move on to the next video 8. Legs and Feet: All right, let's move on to the legs and feet. Pretty straightforward. So for his legs, these are really simple. They're just gonna be really, really long. Long cylinders? No, uh, drawing his shoe. So I'm going to design his shoe. He as you can see, initially, I start off with just a triangular shaped for his foot, and I'm actually going in and designing the actual shape of his shoe. Gonna keep everything really, really simple. It's a nice little simple, stylized design. So he all adding these shoe laces add in his rolled up pants, and I just do a few lines he to represent she'll ices looks pretty good. Not just do the same for the other wig, just quickly getting his leg same in and, uh, start during the other shoe. So with this shoe, what I'll do is it will be slightly behind the other foot. No drawing his shoe sole and his shoe ices. It's right at the campus. I could draw the scene easier. Drawing his other pence thing probably made that a bit too long, so I was gonna bring that in a touch. I make it a bit more obvious that it's behind these other leg, but I can going in tidy up. He's she'll ices and he's soul. All right, let's have a look at this. It's looking pretty good. No, over he I'm gonna merge these layers down just by holding down and then dragging down middle merged layers. And I will just go in and erase some of that overlapping lines that I've created on these arms. And he's tall, say, and I'll merge that down as well. Now what I'll do here is I'm just going to select his whole body and old just maybe married a little bit, you know, just going and clean on these t Shut up. Just Ah, clean it up here and feeling these legs. I'm really happy with this character. Looks pretty good, and I think that will be it. Well, thank you for joining, and I hope you have learned some things along the way during this class. And, um, be looking forward to seeing some of your designs