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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


About This Class


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

41 of 41 students recommendSee All

One of the best classes I've ever taken on skillshare!
excellent demo of the pen tool The instructor actually explained how to use the pen tool vs. speeding the tempo along with an instrumental background.
See my public comment :) LOVE this course - instructor actually does what few do - she explains how she gets from photo to cartoon and theory behind it - so I can do my own custom stuff - I really hope she does more character design courses - eg people; more cute animals and also Photoshop of how she painted the buffalo - fabulous :)!
Anne Farrelly

Designer | Illustrator | Artist





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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