Characters in Motion: Capturing Motion in Illustration

Patrick Brown, Digital Artist and Hobbyist

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9 Lessons (42m)
    • 1. Trailer

    • 2. Welcome to class!

    • 3. Sketching the body using simple lines and shapes

    • 4. Drawing dynamic action poses

    • 5. Drawing convincing facial expressions

    • 6. Drawing your character in a scene

    • 7. Final touches

    • 8. A big thank you!

    • 9. More Creative Classes on Skillshare

81 students are watching this class

Project Description

Sketch a character in motion


  1. Project overview

    This class is great for people who are already skilled in drawing but is also suited for beginners. I will be covering everything from the raw basics, using simple line work and shapes to build the form of your character.

    From there you will learn how to flesh out your character with accurate scale and proportions to create a lifelike figure.

    I will go on to cover how to use your character in exciting and dynamic action poses, including how to work with perspective and placing your character in a scene.

    To finish off I'll show my techniques of shading and final details, I will be combining all the previous steps in one final video to show you how you can achieve something really special.


Sketching the body with shapes

  1. Pick your tools

    You could just use the plain old pencil and paper, but for best results, this is what I would recommend:

    • Staedtler automatic pencil (mechanical pencil), I've used one for years and it's just perfect for those precise lines and it never goes blunt.
    • A kneaded eraser, it works by picking up graphite particles and doesn't wear away and leave behind eraser residue.
    • Blue pencil (non-photo pencil), which is not really needed, but is great for a starting point to your sketch, you can draw messy then go over later with your led pencil for a cleaner sketch.

    • Acid-free paper is best to use if you want your sketch to last. Plus I find the paper is much smoother and more enjoyable to work on.


  2. Create a Superhero or Villain

    Before getting started you will need to decide what to draw, it can be any kind of Hero or Villain you like, exsisting or non-exsisting, male or female.. It can be your own original creation or it can be anything from your favorite movie or game, ect. It's important you are enjoying what you draw so go nuts.

    To help you get started, here are some examples I've done before:


  3. Basic structure

    Using simple lines and shapes, I will show you how to create a basic frame for a character, which you can then build on to fully flesh out your image.


  4. Using reference images

    Using the basic shape techniques for drawing a character, choose a reference image as a base to recreate the pose for your own image.

    Don't look at the entire image as it is, only see the core structure or skeleton and use that as a guide for your character. It's great practice and it'll improve your understanding of how poses work.


  5. Action poses

    In this step you will learn how to understand poses and know the best ways to use them. I will show you how to put movement in your pose and under


    stand the dynamics.

Drawing facial expressions

  1. Mouths

    In this step I will include how to draw exaggerated mouths. A good tip to know about drawing mouths, remember the teeth are always fixed and don't move, the lips are the most animated part and move around the teeth.

    Here are a few examples:


  2. Eyes

    In this step I will show you how to draw different eye expressions such as angry, happy and surprised.

    Eyes are one of the most important part of your image, it is the focal point where a persons eyes will be drawn. Adding expression to your characters eyes can help to understand the story you are telling and the feelings you are conveying in your image. 

    Here are some examples:


  3. Showing emotions

    When drawing your characters head, it is very important to remember that the face lets you know what they are feeling, whether it's anger, shock or surprise. The areas most important to this fact are the eyes, mouth and cheeks. Capturing the emotion in these key areas is essential.

    Here are some examples:


Your character in a scene

  1. Perspective

    Depending on what your perspective is in the background, it will need to reflect on your character, they will also need to follow the same perspective. In this step I will show you how.


  2. Distance

    When drawing characters in a scene, it can be tough to work out the scale of each character depending on where their standing. In this step I will show you an easy way to understand the characters distance and how they should be scaled.


  3. Horizon line

    The horizon line is where the sky and the distant ground meet, it can be used as a guide when working with perspective. I will show you how to place your character in a scene and understand the angle and perspective using a horizon line as a guide.

    Here is an example of a centered horizon line, note how the heads are above and the feet are below:


    Here is an example of a low horizon line, note how almost their entire bodies are above, the feet are just under:


    Here is an example of a high horizon line, note how the view changes and we're almost looking down at them:


Shading and final touches

  1. Outlines

    Drawing solid outlines will hold your character together and give it more impact. In this step I will show you the best way to deal with your outlines and making the artwork seem more prominent with quality lines.

  2. Shading

    Adding shading to your sketch will create depth and quality to your art, it'll make it look professional and can be a great skill to have. Even if you're just going to scan your sketch into software such as Photoshop for continued digital art, doing some shading beforehand can also act as a guideline, you can get better judgement when shading by hand.


  3. Final touches

    Adding small details to your work can improve it immensely, such as dust and scratches or blood and dirt. Even such fine details that you can't see right away will add that wow factor at the end.


  1. Student projects

    Make the most of your enrollment and take part in the student projects, you can upload your progress and share your work. You'll recieve feedback from artists all around the world.

    I'm really looking forward to seeing how you go, I will also be able to give feedback and give advice.

    Don't forget if you want to follow my work, you can find me here:

    Patrick Brown official website

    Facebook Page


Student Projects

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