Create a Symmetrical Character in Procreate | Mel Armstrong | Skillshare

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Create a Symmetrical Character in Procreate

teacher avatar Mel Armstrong, Illustrator, Pattern Addict & Teacher

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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 (56m)
    • 1. Intro

    • 2. The Symmetry Tool

    • 3. Finding inspiration

    • 4. Sketching

    • 5. Add Colour

    • 6. Add Texture

    • 7. Create a Repeat

    • 8. Project

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About This Class

Lately I’ve been enjoying the amazing iPad app Procreate.  I’ve had it only a few months, but have already licensed a number of illustrations for greeting cards (show greeting cards), many of which I created during the #Procreate30 challenge on Instagram created by Stephanie.

In this class I’m going to show you how to create a character (such as this lion) using the Symmetry tool.  This tool is useful for creating symmetrical illustrations such as butterflies or bugs or even symmetrical patterns, but can also be very handy when creating characters like this.

Along the way I’ll show you some of my favourite brushes to create gorgeous textures and how you can create a simple repeat from your illustration that can be uploaded to a Print On Demand website such as Spoonflower.

This class is for those who are relatively familiar with Procreate and are interested in learning about some new features.  If you’re looking for a beginners class, I recommend Stephanie Fizer Coleman's  or Brooke Glaser's classes to help get you started.  

You'll need an iPad pro (or the new iPad 9.7 inch), an apple pencil and the Procreate app to complete this class.


Meet Your Teacher

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Mel Armstrong

Illustrator, Pattern Addict & Teacher

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Hello and welcome!

I’m a full-time illustrator and surface pattern designer from Wellington, New Zealand.  I’m obsessed with creating beautiful things, from craft to illustration to sewing to IKEA flat packs (no kidding).  

I’m also obsessed with learning, which drew me to Skillshare.  Years ago, I stumbled across this little (well, actually big) gem, did some classes, and then voila, I became a teacher!  I teach what I love - illustration and surface pattern design - and I’m so happy I can share my skills with you all.  It’s an absolute joy to watch others grow to make a career out of what they love doing.

My client list includes Scholastic UK, Harper Collins, Hallmark Creative US, American Greeti... See full profile

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1. Intro: Hi everyone. I'm Bell Armstrong, a surface pattern designer and illustrator in Wellington, New Zealand. Lately I have been enjoying the amazing iPad at Procreate. I've only had it a few months, but I have already licensed a number of illustrations for greeting cards. Many of which I created during the re-create 30 challenge on Instagram. Creative by Stephanie Coleman. In this class, I'm going to show you how to create a character using the symmetry tool. This tool is useful for creating symmetrical illustrations such as butterflies or bugs, or even symmetrical patterns. Along the way, I'll show you some of my favorite brushes to create gorgeous textures and how you can create a simple repeat from your illustration that can be uploaded to a print on demand website such as Spoonflower. This class is for those who are relatively familiar with Procreate. If you're looking for a beginners class, I highly recommend Stephanie Coleman's classes to help get you started. Otherwise, I hope you can join me. Let's get to it. 2. The Symmetry Tool: Before we get into drawing, I'm going to show you how the Symmetry tool works. The first thing you need to do is turn it on, go up to the Wrench tool, and then select Canvas, and then you've got a drawing guide here, will turn that on, and you can see a grid has appeared on your page. Then you need to go to Edit Drawing Guide. Now, in here there are four different types of drawing guides. This is the 2D grid. You've also got isometric, perspective and symmetry. Now in the symmetry box we've got four different options. We've got horizontal, vertical, quadrant, and radial. Now, you may not get to see the line very clearly, so I'm going to adjust it. I'm going to make the opacity 100 percent and the thickness 100 percent. Now you can probably see it a little bit clearer. You can also change the color by dragging this. Let's make it a bright pink. You also need the Assisted Drawing tool on. If you don't have that on, then it's not going to mirror what you draw. Let's start with the horizontal. I click" Done". In here, I'm going to write hello, not very well because I don't normally hold my pencil like this, and then you can see that it has mirrored at the top. Now, if I draw up here, it will mirror at the bottom. If we go back into the drawing guide, there's another option here called Rotational Symmetry, and I'm going to turn that on, and I'm going to show you what that does. I'm just going to create a new layer. Turn duplicate. Turn that bottom one off and clear the new one and then let's write hello, and you can see instead of mirroring, it is rotating. If I was to turn the page around, it looks the same, it's legible, whereas with the mirrored version, it's completely mirrored, so it doesn't really make sense, it's not legible. But that might be the look that you're after, especially when you are drawing. Let's try another one. Let's go to Edit Drawing Guide again and select a vertical one, and this is probably the one I use the most often. Let's create a new layer. Instead of duplicating, I'm going to click on the cross and create a new layer. Now you'll notice if I draw one out it's not working. What you need is, you need to turn the Assisted on. You can see on the other layers it says assisted. If I click "On" here and then click on "Drawing Assist," this will turn it on, and now if I draw here, it will be mirrored, or in this case rotated on the other side. Let's just clear that and once again, I'm going to write hello and you can see it's rotated there. Let's go back in and turn off the rotational symmetry and then it's mirrored. Let's try the next one. Let's go back into the edit drawing guide and select Quadrant. As you expect, let me just create a new layer, duplicate layer. Anything I draw on one of these squares will be mirrored in each of these other squares. It doesn't matter which square you've drawn. Let's write up here and it's mirrored. Let's turn on the rotational symmetry, create a new layer, clear it and this time let's rotate it. Then it's rotated nicely. Let's create another layer and try the last one the radial. I want to turn off the rotational symmetry. In a [inaudible] or even flowers. As you can see, you can create some pretty cool stuff. Let's try it with the rotation on. As you can see, it's created a completely different effect even though I drew the same thing. Have a play with each of them. For this class, I'm probably going to be using the vertical symmetry but you can use whatever you like. Have a play, get used to it and I will see you in the next lesson. 3. Finding inspiration: In finding inspiration for a project that has animals, this is my go to full reference photos. It's called the Wildlife Reference Photos for Artists. You can buy these photos for relatively cheap amount and use them however you like. The good thing about this is that you're not infringing on anyone's copyright. Your using a photo that the artist is selling. I've used these for so many projects, and it's an awesome website. Another way to find inspiration is, of course, Pinterest. I will often come in here and create a board for a project and gather a few images. The problem with Pinterest you don't know where these photos have come from or the source, so you could be infringing on someone's copyright if you were to copy one of these completely. Then I have this folder in my Google Photos that I collect all my wildlife reference photos and I've written it royalty free so I know I can use these for any of my projects. A lot of these zebras are used for a recent project I did for The Lepanto, where I had to draw some real life zebras. This website came in very handy. For this project, I'm going do a lion. I'm going to get back to this Wildlife Reference Photos website and search for some lions. The photos in here, $5 each to download it, or you can buy a subscription where you pay $10 and you get five photos, so that is probably the best way to do it. I generally like to collect a number of photos for one drawing just looking at different angles, different facial expressions, different actions. I'm just going go through here and select a few that I like. Who could this face [inaudible]. Bear with me my speed is up alike. Thanks. I think I've got enough. I'm just going to drag them into my folder here. I think I'm going to use a combination here of this one, this little guy, I just like the way he's sitting, and even this one here once I start sketching or not just to grab bits and pieces from each of them. In the next lesson, I am going to show you how I sketch and procreate using the symmetry tool for this one. Will see you then. 4. Sketching: Let's start sketching. First of all I'm going to create a new document, I'm just going to do a 3,000 by 3,000 pixel. I'm going to turn on my drawing guide, and I want to put the symmetry vertical on, and I'm going to just increase the thickness and the opacity so that you can see clearer. Now, I'm going to share my screen with my references. To do that, if I just hold down my Google Photos, drag it over to the side, and then we have a split screen, and I can see my photos. I'm going to start with the face. I love this face. To sketch, I'm going to choose a dark color, and I'm going to use my sketching narinder pencil. I either use that one all the 6B, depending on what I'm drawing. For the narinder pencil, I find it will create really smooth lines. If I click on that again, I can go in here and I can change the stream line. So the higher it is, the more it is smooth. I'll show you how smooth that is, whereas if I go back in here and move it down to the bottom, you can see how that's not as smooth, it's jagged and then follows the actual natural movement of your hand. I have very shaky hands, so I find it very useful to have the streamline quite high. Let's have that one and let's remove this. Now I love this lion's face, he's very serious looking, and I want to try and capture that in my character. I'm just going to go ahead and start sketching. Now I want this to be symmetrical, this would be an illustration, I'd probably put on a greeting card, it's not for a children's book, so this is quite often what I'll do. I'm going to do my lion, sleeping I think, so do the eyes closed. Now, we don't want the symmetry on. You can just go to the layer, click on it, turn off the drawing assist, and then draw the bit in it that you don't want to be symmetrical and in the very back in, turn it back on. I don't want that face to be bit higher, so the glory of Procreate. You don't have to erase it and start again, you can just select the bits that you want to move, we're using the selection tool. Then using three fingers, I swipe down on the screen and select cut and paste. Then you can just move it to where you want to [inaudible]. I see I forgot to turn the drawing assist on there because I created a new layer when I copied that, so I'm actually just going to merge that down. I'm starting to think this is looking good. I'm going to actually stretch it upwards a bit to make hiss face a little bit longer. Then I'm just going to reduce the size because I want to put a body in underneath that back in the middle. You might do the body on another layer. I do this quite often because I like to play around with the size of the head and put them in comparison to the body. You quite often find with characters that the head is over-exaggerated, which makes him look [inaudible]. I quite often draw the body and then the face separated and then I can play around with the sizes and find the best one. On my new layer, I'll turn the drawing assist back on, I'm going to draw a body. Now, there was another photo in here, this little guy here. Look the way he's sitting with his little legs coming out the side, so I'm going to try and do that, and I'm going to do it small. I don't think he needs a tail. Now, I had another one, this one here, you can see the tail, how he's got this roundish bit on the end of it that's dark. I need to turn off my symmetry for this, we don't want two tails. It's almost like a love heart, really upside down, isn't it? I'm thinking I'm pretty happy with that. I'm going to just turn off the drawing guide, and I'm going to do some little decorations for his mane, but I'm going to do that, wait till I color. For the moment, I'm going to use that as my starting base and we'll see how we go. In the next lesson, I will show you how to color the lion. See you then. 5. Add Colour: We have our sketch and we need to add some color. Let's do the face first. I have a color palette that I use a lot, I pretty much use it for everything. I'm going to continue with that, using my colors. But if you want to create a palette, if you go into your colors and you select the palette tab there, you can create a new palette by clicking the plus button, and say if you have a photo in here, if you hold down your finger and select a color, that color will appear up in here. Then if you select a box in your new palette, it will put the color in there and you can build a palette up and then give it a name, set it as default, and then go from there. For this one, I'm using this palette underneath called botanical, which I use for a lot my surface design. It's got some nice oranges and yellows that will be perfect for the lion. To start, let's pick a yellow. The chino will go with the mane first, we'll go with the orange. Now, there's a couple of ways that I color, I'm going to show you both. This is one method, I select my narinder pencil. Then let's create a new layer. I turn on drawing assist, we need our drawing guide on. I will trace over my sketch and then click and drag the color and to fill it. Let's do that again, and I'll show you what can happen. If you do this, when you drag your color and, oh no, what happened? Usually means that you haven't completely closed the gap. You can see here, there's big gap so then close that and pull it in, and it works. Another way I like to fill in the color, is I use the selection tool, and then I will sketch around, drawing assist won't work for the selection tool, so you had to go the whole way around, and then I will select the texture or brush that I want to use for this. I'm going to use artistic, gesinski ink and then color it, and that will use the assistant or merge, but you can color in that way as well, I use that a lot. I think that's probably the way I'm going to do this lion. I'm going to start again because that one wasn't so good. We going to make that a bit darker. We going to create a new layer, I don't really need the assistant for this one. Going to create a lighter color, no, I think that's to light, so I'm going to go into my classic, and just darken it up a bit, just a little bit. I'll show you a different way to do this, I'm going to fill it the other way. Use my narinder pencil, make sure my drawing assist is on. I'm going to take a little bit off the top of this to make it rounded. It's a bit too much. Also I'm going to merge things together and just put them at the top. If I turn on multiplying, adjust the opacity and lock it, so I don't accidentally draw on that layout. I'm going to do the body in the same way. I forgot to fill in, we'll close in the top bit there. It's too wide for me. You can see with the head and body, you can actually see the body through the head. This happens when you use the selection tool and then fill it. If I do it the other way where I drag the color in, it doesn't give you that opacity. I'm just going to wait till the end, but I'll probably just delete that out underneath, so you can't see it. Let's just do his legs. Now I don't have this yellow in my palette. I'm holding down my finger on it to select the color, and then I can draw my legs. Let's do the tail while were here. We don't need the Drawing Assist on for this one. I'm just going to use the eraser to clean up this tail which I didn't really do very well. I might actually do that again, and the tip of his tail. That's the base of his body and tail done. Let's do his facial items: eyes, nose, mouth, et cetera, and I turn on the Drawing Assist. Choose another color, and I'm going to use the 6B pencil for this to get the nice textured outline. Let's draw some eyes. Make them a bit thicker so I'm going to drag out my brush size. You can see I'm creating a lot of layers here and I will combine them down because eventually I will run out of layers. Now let's do his ears. We'll use that yellow again. Drawing Assist. I'm just going to color that one in. In the next lesson I'll show you how to add texture to this. This one, I'm going to select it and then draw the inside of his ear, and I've created a clipping mask, so it's only going to draw inside the ear itself. I can't draw it out here. Do some whiskers, I'll do these a bit darker. I'll turn off that to see what that looks like, not happy with that, let's try it again. I might do some whiskers above his eyes. Well, okay. We just need to add a few lines to his body. I'm going to select his feet, and then create a new layer on top, and select the orange and the 6B pencil, but I'm going to lower that down a bit, the size of it. Turn off the Sketch for the moment. I'm just going to draw some toes, and I haven't got Drawing Assist on. I'm also going to draw just a faint line there. You can see where his legs are bent over them. Then I will do some little toes on his front feet. Once again, Drawing Assist. Let's turn off the Drawing Guide. There's a couple of things I need to fix here. The mouth is a bit crooked so I'm going to turn back on Drawing Assist. I'm going to just erase, the top of the mouth here, and draw it again. I need to add some lines to his mane. I'm going to Select, I'm going to choose a dark, orange, browny color, and my Narinder pencil, and add some lines. I'll speed this one up for you because it's going to take a while. Here is Lira the lion. Let's leave him there for the moment. I'll turn my Drawing Guide off. In the next lesson, I'm going to show you how to add some lovely texture. We'll see you then. 6. Add Texture: Okay. Welcome back. In this lesson I'm going to add texture to the lion. First of all, lets start with the body. His tummy has a little bit of texture on it,I bet I'm going to add a bit more, I'm also going to add some to the yellow. I'm going to go back in here and find my buddy. If I select that and create a layer on top. I'm going to use a slightly darker yellow. I'm going to use this grunge texture by Lisa Bardot. You can find her brushes on Creative Market. I'll put a link in the projects area for you to download them. I use a lot of her brushes, they're fantastic. Then I'm just going to come in here and subtly add a little bit of texture. You can see it's in there. Lets just give that another color as well and just add little bits. Then go to over the top. While I'm at here also add a bit of shading. Generally I use Lisa Bardot's gouache and brushes to do this. Just going to take down the opacity a bit. Then I'm going to do a similar thing on the legs. I've already got the lines here on the legs, so I'm just going to merge them down to try and save some layers and then add another layer to the texture. I need turn on that drawing assist again for this one. So that both of my legs get colored. Lets add bit of white as well. Just a small bit of a highlight. I'm also going to use a watercolor, which I'll do that but it's on a different level, add our layer. Just so that we can add some shadow. So select this and create a new layer. Can it create user watercolor? I'm going to select a dark gray, and then change this to a color burn or maybe a linear burn. Let me just see, what can I do? The color burn is better, lets bring it down a bit. Just adds a bit of a shadow there. I've got to turn on drawing assist. Just going to bring down the opacity on that, so it's not so intense. Select, a bit of merging here. You'll find that you'll run out of layers and procreate quite quickly. Lets select that tummy bit. Let's go with an orange and go to textures in my grunge one. Just add a little bit under there to make it a bit of a shadow from his head. We'll put it down here. Let's do his tail. We need to add some lines. I'm going to use my 6B pencil to do this. I've selected the tail and I'm going to create another layer on top to mask it. Just draw some lines here. That will do. We'll add some texture as well. Select that again and create another layer and lets just go a turd darker and a bit dhani on top. Then submerge those down again, and do the tail, shadow with this, using a watercolor. Going to create another layer. I'm going to create the gray again and linear burn. I think that's enough for the body for the moment. Let add some lovely texture to the face. Before I do that, I'm going to finish off the nose. I'm actually going to move it down a little bit. I'm going to do that, I'm going to select it and just drag it down a turd. I'm going to select that nose again and we're going to add some texture. We can go a bit darker, I'm going to use the grunge again. Maybe a little bit of highlight. Then I want to extend his nose up. For this I'm going to use Lisa Bardot's gouache dry detail to my drawing assistant. Now, we need some texture on that face. We're going to start with a light color and I'm going to use artisitic gesinski ink. Just add a bit of roughness down here. Using the pressure of my pencil, I'm creating light and dark areas and using the opacity as well. I'm also going to add some yellow, orange to this as well, just subtly at the top. Just using my eraser to soften up the edges. I've got my eraser on the 6B pencil, softens up the edges but not so hard. I'm going to do that to the outside as well. With the drawing is just on, we really have to do one side. This gives it a nice rough texture on the edge. You can experiment with different edges. Another thing I want to do is remove the body behind the face. First, I might merge it down, and I want some happy eyes, normal image, everything together and just add another quick layer of texture. I'm just going to grab all the layers and merge them down. Oops, I don't want to merge that one. To select add another layer, just to my edge. Just subtly add a bit to the whole lion. I think I'll leave him there. I'll probably keep going and adjusting things. But for this exercise this will do for the moment. Have fun, experiment with the brushes, experiment with texture. Use that symmetry tool to get things even on each side. I look forward to seeing what you do. 7. Create a Repeat: In this lesson I'm going to show you how to create a very simple repeat pattern in Procreate, so that you can then upload it to a print-on-demand websites such as Being Flower. This is actually something you can find on the Spin Cloud blog, and I've modified it slightly for myself. I'll put the link in the projects areas or you can have a right of the actual tutorial on Spin Cloud. Here's my lion, we are going to take a copy of him, so, we are going to tap on the layer and select copy, go to my gallery and create a new document. I'm going to do a 1,500 pixel by 1,500 pixel, 300 dpi, and just note sprinkler if you're uploading to their [inaudible] , downsize it to 150 dpi. Okay. Using my three fingers, if I swipe the page, I can then paste my line in there. We need to resize him. I'm going to keep that one as a backup and create a duplicate, and to lock and hide that original. For this one, I'm just going to place them here, [inaudible] down a bit. I'm going to create a duplicate, and just create a little one beside him. Just move that one over a little bit. Okay. Now, create another layer and fill it with a dark color. So make sure you have got a dark color selected, and then go into your layout and select Full Layer, and then just down the opacity a bit. Then you need to group those three, so, to do that, I'm just going to swipe to the right to select them all and group them. Duplicate the group, and select one of the groups, and ensuring that the magnetics is on, drag it slowly down making sure you stay on that line till you get to halfway. Just get back a bit. I'm going to try that again, and then with the other layer drag it to the top. The reason we use these, but the dark background is so that we can align it, so, at the moment they have overlapping. If I just nudge that up, I can nudge it up by tapping above the canvas until that gray line disappears. There it is, and so now we know that they actually repeat at the top and then the bottom. So we can go and delete those dark layers and then merge those two layers. Then I'm going to create another copy of my original and just fill in the gaps. Bring it down here. You can add some other things if you like. Once again create a dark fill layout at the back, then group all of those, duplicate the group, and this time drag to the left and the right. I'd like to do it until it's just about on the other line, and then nudge it. You don't want to go too far, and then delete your dark layers. There you have a repeating pattern. It's not the most beautiful pattern, but it's just for demonstration purposes. So then I would go and share it and save it, and then upload it to the print on demand website. Okay. If we go to [inaudible] and select design and upload, and you can then select your will image from your file library, your photo library, and upload, and there it is. If you want to play with the size, you can see that it repeats. 8. Project: Thank you for watching my class. I hope you enjoyed it and have learned some new tricks. For your project, I'd love to see you create a symmetrical character using the Symmetry tool in Procreate, upload your finished design to the project's area for all of us to see. If you're sharing on social media, please tag me, [inaudible] /skillshare, so I can say your gorgeous designs. Thanks, again. Until next time, [inaudible] you. See you later.