Character Illustration: From Concept to Final Artwork

Matt Kaufenberg, Freelance Illustrator

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6 Videos (2h 5m)
    • Welcome to the Class

      6:01
    • Sketching Your Character

      23:23
    • Working in Illustrator

      16:16
    • Rendering in Photoshop, Part 1

      17:35
    • Rendering in Photoshop, Part 2

      43:38
    • Color Adjustments and Texture

      17:55
110 students are watching this class

About This Class

This class will teach you how to illustrate using shapes and color to define form, rather than inked outlines.

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In this class I'll be taking you through my process of illustrating a character, starting with the concept, then moving into Illustrator to create the shapes, and finally, rendering it in Photoshop. I'll also talk briefly about texture and color adjustments.

What You'll Learn

  • Finding Inspiration. We'll discuss sources of inspiration and identify a project we're passionate about.
  • Character Concepts. We'll sketch out the initial idea of your character.
  • Building the Foundation in Illustrator.  The shape tool will help you build a foundation for your character.
  • Rendering in Photoshop. You'll use masks in Photoshop to render a detailed version of your character. 
  • Color Adjustment and Texture. You'll use color adjustment and texture tools to fine tune your project.

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What You'll Make

This class is perfect for the beginning artist, or even a professional one who's looking to learn a new style. Once the class is done, you'll have a fully illustrated pirate, (or other fun character of your choosing), to add to your portfolio.

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Class Outline

  • Welcome to the Class. It’s time to get fired up! Drawing characters should be fun, and Matt has plenty of tips to help you get excited while also finding inspiration for your character design. From gardening to trips to thrift shops, inspiration is everywhere, and Matt has his Pinterest boards to prove it. Gather your own inspirational images together and share them with the rest of the class to show everyone what inspires your creation!
  • Sketching Your Character. Now that you’re suitably amped up, you’ll start by coming up with a few rough ideas as you sketch out your concept design. Matt gives you his tips for using Photoshop layers and simple shapes to quickly create concept art for your character. He’ll also share his thought process on what to look for when designing and how to make your characters stand out in a crowd.
  • Working in Illustrator. Once you’ve got a character you like, it’s time to take them into Illustrator and start building your character out of shapes. Matt shows you his workflow as well as numerous techniques for structuring your file to make working in Photoshop faster. Using layer masks, you’ll learn how to work efficiently and even how to change individual colors quickly and easily.
  • Rendering in Photoshop, Part 1. From there, you’ll export your digital art using Matt’s settings so that you can import it directly into Photoshop and begin adding detail. He’ll show you his methods for saving time using layer masks, as well as give you a few warnings about what to avoid when working in Photoshop layers.
  • Rendering in Photoshop, Part 2. Now that your character is starting to come together, it’s time to add shading and details. Using the free resources that Matt provides, you will add highlights and reflections that give your creation depth and personality. He’ll show you how to experiment with blending modes to quickly test new color combinations as well as some tips on choosing colors.
  • Color Adjustments and Texture. To make your final image POP, you’ll add some texture and learn to adjust individual colors to achieve your desired result. You will also learn several techniques for adding textures to your image as well as simple tips for creating light and shadow. A few more color tests and a blending mode or two will have your character ready to leap out of the screen!

814 of 825 students recommendSee All

it was really helpful.
Matt gave a really cool insight to his process... great tips and tricks for adding depth and finishing touches to illustrations.
Heidi Boyd

Graphic Designer, Aspiring Illustrator

So I just graduated as a Graphic Designer a couple months ago, and i've been using Photoshop for like 3 years now after they gave us a pretty basic class on it. Now i feel like I`m learning to use it for the first time, I honestly didn`t know a lot of these tricks that probably would've helped me get better grades and gain more customers. I learned so much, 100% recommended!

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Matt Kaufenberg

Freelance Illustrator

Matt Kaufenberg is a freelance illustrator living in Minnesota.

For over 7 years he's had the pleasure of working with companies such as Facebook, Netflix, Hasbro, Target, and more. He is influenced by artists from the 60's and 70's, especially children's book illustrators.

In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his wife and their four kids.

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