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Character Design Crash Course: Designing Animal Characters

Melissa Lee Shaw, allow yourself to fail before you succeed

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9 Videos (50m)
    • Introduction

    • Inspiration and Reference

    • The Fundamentals of Character Design

    • Using Reference

    • Practice Exercise

    • Sketching and Designing Your Character

    • Blocking In Color Using The Pen Tool and Radial Gradient Tool

    • Rendering In Photoshop

    • Closing Thoughts

71 students are watching this class

About This Class


Welcome to Character Design Crash Course, a series of illustration classes meant for beginning cartoonists or intermediate character artists looking for a refresher.

In this class I'll take you through my process of designing and illustrating an animal character, starting with finding inspiration and reference, then moving on to sketching and developing your concept, and finally, rendering it in Photoshop. I'll also talk about the fundamentals of character design, and the importance of using reference and learning from other artists. 

What You'll Learn

  • Finding Inspiration and Learning from Other Artists: I'll talk about studying the styles of other artists, how it helps you build your versatility, and the importance of being influenced by more than one artist.
  • Using Reference: I'll talk about why using reference is key to improving your drawing skills, the best ways to use it to benefit yourself, and why it's particularly essential when designing animal characters. 
  • Developing Your Character: from rough sketches to more developed concepts
  • Rendering in Photoshop: blocking in base colors manually and with the pen tool, using the radial gradient tool to shade and highlight, using paths to make selections, and how paths and the lasso tool can aid in coloring
  • Color Adjustment and Texture: how to use color adjustments and texture tools to add interest to your drawing

What You'll Make

Once finished, you'll have a fully illustrated animal character to add to your portfolio. :D

82 of 83 students recommendSee All

Nice course. Focused on the workflow from beginning to end, as well as where to find inspiration. Thanks!
Really loved Melissa's relaxed way of presenting. It's almost as if shes sat beside you showing you her process rather than "lecturing" on the right way to do something which is a really nice approach. I'm pretty new to using photoshop so her tips will definitely come in handy.
Natasha Chambers


excellent class





Melissa Lee Shaw

allow yourself to fail before you succeed

Hi! My name's Melissa (Missa) Lee Shaw, and I'm an illustrator and watercolor painter from Northern California. I've been drawing for as long as I can remember, and it's all I've ever really wanted to do. I started teaching myself how to draw digitally in 2010 when I got my first tablet, and since then I've had a growing fascination with the digital art world. It's pretty rad. I graduated from California State University of Sacramento with a BA in Studio Art and a focus in the Electro...

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