Digital Illustration: Design Your Avatar | Ryan Putnam | Skillshare

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Ryan Putnam, Designer & Illustrator

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9 Lessons (48m)
    • 1. Introduction

      0:40
    • 2. What Are Avatars?

      2:36
    • 3. Starting Your Avatar

      8:32
    • 4. Building Your Avatar

      9:39
    • 5. Adding Features

      5:53
    • 6. Adding Accessories

      8:31
    • 7. Finishing Touches on Your Avatar

      11:12
    • 8. Wrap Up

      0:39
    • 9. Explore Design on Skillshare

      0:37
119 students are watching this class

About This Class

Looking to push your skills in Adobe Illustrator? Want to take the self portrait to the next level? Join artist Ryan Putnam for a fun, 45-minute class on designing your own custom avatar!

Ryan walks you through his own process of breaking down the subject matter (his face) into simple shapes and line weights that create a cohesive avatar. This class will teach you how to create and avatar with likeness to your face, and you'll work with essential, basic illustrator tools to achieve a sophisticated look.

Whether you're a designer looking to explore and push your style, or you just want to create a fun avatar for your social media account, this class will inspire you to open Adobe Illustrator and get to work!

Want to check out more from Ryan Putnam? Learn some fun illustration exercises to improve your work in his illustration styles class.

Transcripts

1. Introduction: Hi, everyone. I'm Ryan Putnam, designer, illustrator, podder from San Francisco, and today we're going to be creating personal avatars in Adobe Illustrator. Using some simple shapes, simple line weights, and creating something personal that you could take used in social media. The cool thing about this tool is it really teaches you to extract things from your subject matter, your face, or whatever you're drawing, and be able to apply it to certain goals of your project. I'm excited to get into making the avatar and showing you guys how I do it. I'm pretty excited to see what you guys got. 2. What Are Avatars?: Okay. Before we get started into creating the personal avatars, I want to show you some example of stuff that I've made and the example process. This right here is some persona avatars that I made for a company. Here, I put these labels on. But they're pretty specific on what each of these are supposed to represent. The Yuppie Dad, Bargain Hunter, Sports Car Guy, et cetera. Here is kind of the process that I went through when creating these. This file is a little all over the place. The art board's kind of crazy, but it shows you some of the process where you start off with a simple shape of the face, then you start to experiment with different features of the face like eyes, nose. How does the neck look? You can see all the different variations. Then starting to kind of whittle down to the style that I eventually proceeded with. I think this is the final one right here. Oh, yes, there's some more. Then you can see how I took this into the rest of the avatar set. There is some consistency between the eyes, the simple line weight of the nose. So, you can see how some of the stuff starts to build together to create a consistent set. This is my current avatar that I create. I'm creating something different, but I've done a bunch of different avatars for companies like here are some for Dropbox DBX. This is a series that I have of some more avatars. These could get in the different fidelity from super simple to very simple, then they could get more complex into some different styles, different experiments, even to something a little bit more realistic, and we're not going to be doing this today. But something a little bit more hand-drawn, more fun, a bunch of different things, even taking this and doing different experimentation. So, it could go really far in different ways. I'm going to be using this photo for the exercise. Okay, awesome. Now that you saw all that, let's get started on our avatar now. 3. Starting Your Avatar: Let's get right into making our avatar. Again, I'm using a photograph that I've placed in Adobe Illustrator. You could use a mirror or use your memory, but it is good to have some kind of visual reference to reference when you're creating the avatar. I'll place this here, I'm going to create a separate layer, so it's easy to turn off and on the artwork and the photo. I'll start drawing in my artwork layer. So, a good place to start is just with really basic shapes. I'm going to use a rectangle here. Let me adjust my stroke. I like the stroke and this gray color to start off with. But again, look like a really simple rectangle. I'm going to change some of these rounded corners, so I could get this oval shape like that. I've been influenced a lot. I live over here in San Francisco, by the Presidio, and there is the Disney Art Museum. So, I've been really digging some of the older Mickey classic illustrations. So, I'm going to try to reference some of that in this kind of avatar that I'm creating. So, he has these very specific eyes. Again, I'm using the ellipse tool here. As you go along with this illustration, there's different points where you start to look at it, and it looks pretty horrible. But don't worry. Just keep at it, using these basic shapes and slowly tweak them. As you start to do these basic shapes, start to look at some of the predominant parts of the avatar, they're starting to stick out. For me, my glasses and my hat are very iconic. That looks like me, and some of my eyebrows right there. My lips, I have bigger lips. Sometimes, it's weird talking about yourself like this. So, I think I'm going to try to highlight some of those attributes, like my hat, my eyebrows, my glasses, and maybe my lips more, but still keeping it pretty simple. Okay, back to this shape we have. Again, just use some of all these awesome simple shaped tools that we have. I'm going to look at my glasses here. I use this rounded rectangle tool a lot. It pops up after you create a shape, and use your direct selection tool, like they will pop up right there. But you can also use within your control panel like that. Your control panel, when you have your direct selection tool selected, your corner waits right there. It also is in your rectangle properties, which is cool. But it's pretty easy just to use the direct selection tool and select specific points and around those corners. I can maybe make these glasses a little bit bigger. Cool. That's a good start just to get some of this stuff down. We'll tweak a lot of it later. I'll use another simple ellipse to represent the ear. It's looking good. Maybe, I don't need to worry too much about the neck right now. Let's even just put this ellipse here to get an idea. Okay, that's a good foundation, I think, to work from. What I do like to do is to create multiple copies of the avatar through different steps. Place that up there. Copy this and then start to work on it again. It's nice to have all those multiple instances of your avatar so you could see where you could go back, where you can change things, where things took the wrong turn, I like to do that. You don't necessarily have to. I think at this point, it's good to refine, start to refine this a little bit more. These eyes are maybe a little big for me. Let's shrink them a little bit. And again, I like this, this classic Mickey style of eye. I'm going to take a triangle shape and cut it out. Yes, I like that. You could also try multiple different eyes. That's a good reason to keep copying and pasting. So, it could even be like small beady eyes. That's different. Or they could be eyes with more of an iris and encompassing shape. So, you can do a bunch of different things. But I am digging this Mickey eye. Don't know if there's a specific name for this type of style of an eye but I'm not sure. This is where you can start building in these different shapes of your face. So, I have, I would say, I'm not fat but chunky. So, I like this rounded shape of the face. If you have a different face, it could be a circle, or it could be more of a triangular face. That's not a great example, but there's different face types. Just be honest to what you are. That's fine. So, again, I have a low girth around here. That's totally cool. So, let's make sure that we still have that. I think now, I want to build more into these pretty dominant features that I have. So, let's look at the eyebrow. It goes up and down a little bit. Again, you can just even use simple geometric shapes. I'll use the rectangle tool. Here, I'm going to use some of the pen tool, connect some of the shapes. That looks cool. I can exaggerate certain portions of it, like my eyebrows, they have exaggerated arc right there. I don't want to do it too much, because I still want my avatar to be a little bit more friendly. But it depends on the attributes you want to highlight, because these physical characteristics, play into some of the softer characteristics of your personality. I would prefer my avatar to be a little bit more approachable, so I'm going to keep some of these features a little bit softer. So, that's getting there. Again, we could change their shapes. I like this nose. Again, reference what I was going to, some of that classic Mickey style, but maybe it's not completely appropriate for this. I want to focus a little bit more on my brow here. You can see that, again, I'm getting old and have some definition in these certain areas. So, let's try to make that with our line tool. 4. Building Your Avatar: Put a little rounded corner there another rounded corner. Yeah, and I like that nose. It's again it's not super characteristic of my nose, I currently have but there's different points where you could just make changes as you want. So, it's not like super defining of me I think, can compare to some of these other features that I'm going to highlight. So, I think I'm fine with the nose being somewhat generic and not exactly like my current face. I think this is looking pretty cool. I might take another copy. Let's move some of this over. Okay. Now, with another person, so I can always go back to these distinct areas. Let's see, I'm going to work on this ear super quick. Let's give it a white fill, and here it's pretty easy to with your. Let's see what that's called, your Add Anchor Point Tool, add some spots. Use my Direct Selection Tool to delete a couple of these anchor points. I like in the effort to again soften the features of my face and be a little bit more approachable, I'm going to choose this rounded cap for my paths. I switch this one too. Yeah, so now we have a ear starting to emerge there. Okay, copy, paste it, rotate it, scale it down a little bit, and take away some of these other anchor points and then we have another detail of the ear. I'm going to keep it simple like that because again, I don't want to like highlight those specific features of my face, so me personally, I don't want to create this super complex ear. That's looking cool but I need to start looking at the mouth now. This was another feature that I wanted to possibly pay more attention to. We might be fine with just this mouth shape right here, but I do have these, these bigger lips. So, I think I will take this shape and arc on it. I think that's good. Then adjust this down and put that effect on here, but I can always go back to it in my appearance panel which is pretty cool. Maybe a little bit more. Let's just try 70 percent. Oops. Maybe that's okay. I'm going to expand this appearance so it has this curve to it, and maybe just adjust it just a little bit. Getting there, that's a good one, a bunch of more tweaks to it. I think I'm going to put a lower lip too but the opposite way. Yeah, something like that, it's negative. Okay. That is getting there. Now, I can start to adjust some of this other stuff. I want this nose up a little bit more. It's easy to select just specific anchor points with your Direct Selection Tool. A buttoned up nose look there. Yeah, that's getting there. What happens if I go higher? Maybe a little too much. So, now we could, I think that's good. Now, we can start to put our mouth there. It's another good point to copy another piece I think. You don't necessarily have to do this, this is just something I do. That's looking good. I think one big feature they forgot to mention was this big old beard or it's not big that big, but this beard that I have. So it'd be fun to also detail that out out in the avatar. So, maybe you could start in on that, add some more details to the eyes. Now again, I'm getting old, so bags under my eyes. Maybe not that much. A little bit bigger. Good things to think about is when you're creating these simple avatars is symmetry and consistent to G through the different elements. All my strokes are two-point strokes, you just saw that I copied that specific frame of my glasses to the next one. So, it's nice to keep things consistent and we'll play out to better compositions and ultimately more cohesive, stronger, successful illustration or avatar in this case. Look at this guy over here. Yeah, that's unlike. That's good. You'll see me zooming in and out a lot. I like to view things at different sizes so you could get in pretty close to see if there's any weird tangents touching almost like here. See, that's weird tangent that I don't like, I want it to be there. Now, I like that joint how that works and see the tangent between there is a little much. These are slow tweaks that you can make, you don't necessarily have to make them right now, but I might make them throughout the whole process. Then let's get to zoom back out and just to see well that works good there, super close but then I get some weird tangents and lines. So, maybe I should bring the nose down a little bit more. Yeah, I think that's probably fine. Again, we could tweak this to forever but it's good to continue, keep going on. Going to create this entry here. Make sure it has the right cap on it. Now, like we talked about, we add some of those details but we want to put the beard on there, we use my line tool. Here's another thing, so sometimes I work and have things snapping to specific things. By default, I usually have things snapping to the grid and I have a specific grid that I have setup, so things are very pixel perfect and snappy. But when I do some more things that I don't really want to snap to the grid, I'll just turn it off so, you'll see me snapping, turning it on and off throughout the process. The beard I want relatively generic and cartoony again. So, these specific lines. Then let's get into the actual beard here. Yeah, going to operation here. These are hard too because you're going to probably continually just change these. These are probably the one portion of the avatar then creating that's not symmetrical when I was talking about keeping everything symmetrical and inline. This portion isn't and it's fun to see how they play against each other. I think it's cool. Okay. Maybe it's. We'll tweak that a little bit later once they start adding these other features. Yeah, we're getting there. 5. Adding Features: So yes, now we could keep continuing with some of these small little tweaks by zooming in and out and see how it's mirroring the picture or the mirror that you have going on. I think it's looking pretty good, like how I wanted to look. I mean, there is some small tweaks but, let's make a couple more and then we'll probably make a copy like we did last time, and then continue on to the next step of it. Yes, I think that's looking where I would like it to. I think the biggest next part is the hat that I have on. Again, it's a pretty defining characteristic of this picture and myself. Doesn't mean that you have a hat but your hair is probably pretty defining of who you are. So, let's move into the head hair, hat, whatever you have. We'll just shift this over. Let's see. Again, I really like trying to just use simple shapes, but let's work on this bill. It's rounded, maybe we'll get away with just doing something like this. I'll send this to the back. It looks small and it might not be the complete correct angle but it's still stylized, which I like. I like that for the bill. Again, I might tweak it later once I have this other shape. I'll use another rectangle, send it to the back there, start to play around with [inaudible] It's getting closer and again, it's not the exact angle of my hat but that's fine. I think it's fun to have this exaggerated bill. That looks good. Maybe a little button or whatever that's called. Yes, it's starting to get there. One thing maybe I should've done first is deal with the hair, the hair on the side here. You can't really see it but, I know I have a receding hairline, which is amazing, but I think I'm going to work that end even now that I don't see it here. I know it won't be super pronounced or anything but just some of the angle. Sometimes, I like to build that shape out way beyond the bounds and then take these shapes, use my Pathfinder, my exclude. Yes, so that's getting there. Get rid of that guy. So there, I was trying to show the receding parts. Yes, maybe it's not super pronounced. Maybe these glasses, I made them a little bit bigger but I'm going to shrink them back up a little bit more again. Yes, maybe that's good. There's touching there, but I think that's fine. Again, I'm just going through and tweaking certain things as I create new elements. You're going to continuously go back and forth as you create new elements to the avatar. Again, that's why I have these different copies here so if I actually do want to go back to the bigger glasses I could see. Then as we go further back here, let me turn off the blackboard. So, I do like those smart ones. This hat looks like it's coming together. We can make tweaks later. Sometimes, you'll find yourself tweaking one element over and over and not really getting it but, that's fine, too. Just keep getting it to where you feel it's a good representation of the avatar or something you're just happy with. I think that is cool to start off with. Let me start making some other features. 6. Adding Accessories: Next up, I think I'm going to try to put a neck on myself. Again, using simple rectangle tool here. Yeah. That looks good. I kind of would like it to be combined with the head. So, this is another good reason why I keep a copy because I'm going to kind of destroy that. Okay. Yeah. Let's get in there. Let me adjust some of these the beard hairs. That's going to really define that chin line. Take some of those. That's looks pretty cool, looks pretty good. I can go through it tweak some things. Maybe now, I always have this hoodie too, so maybe I can like that hoodie maybe I'll try to make that. Lets control this over and even having all these copies you could kind of see your process too which is fun. I have some of this on the wrong layers. I want to keep all my artwork on the correct layer. Okay. There we go. See now I can turn that turn that off and on. Lock it. Okay back to us. Let's see. I could get a pretty good shape again just with the rectangular tool and some rounded corners. You always have to like tweak. Shoulders set high, maybe not too high, that's looking okay, what you call it my hoodie maybe gets a little complicated. You have to tweak it so you get something like. Okay. Round that out a little bit. Sometimes you just have to like keep playing with it till you get something that works. Try this color kind of. But a hoodie kind of like wraps around them like this. So, it's starting to get there. Then maybe play with my pen tool a little bit more. Delete that little detail so leave this a little bit more open-ended, the string, going to change some of the different stroke weights. Now, I mentioned before like keeping stroke weights and stuff consistent. I think if you if they're obviously like a detail that needs to be accentuated then it's fine to break that consistency. Lets see this guy. Maybe I'll tweak that a little bit later and then use my pinto for those other small things. Let's copy this guy put it on this side. It's starting to look like the hoodie a little bit. It looks a little funky throughout here. So, I might just still tweak this to get it exactly how I want it. Make sure a rounded join there. Still looks a little bit funky but maybe we will see it. In the context of everything else, I think it's looking okay. You can see how just like tweaking these little things consistency can make a big difference. I mean for example if you just even, let's take this example right here. Oops, I'm going to copy out another piece. You can see what happens if like I make things smaller. How it can dramatically change the tone of that. Here, it look a little bit more wide-eyed and here my eyes are smaller so and I almost like a mostly grimacing. I mean you could again like push these things further by small little twists of these shapes. Those eyes look little funky. Let's make that even closer, makes it look kind of stupid now, which is great. But, you could see how by just changing like really small things could like make a huge difference to this. We can go back to the nose. That I had at the beginning and instead this mouth can be open. Let's spread these eyes up really far. So, you have a lot of fun with it but I'm going to stick with this one, I like this one the best. I think this is a good place to start like continuously tweaking and adjusting your avatar to get it to your liking. But, the next videos, we'll start to look at changing some of the colors, maybe adding a couple more kind of accessories or maybe just like different features and how to carry this into other avatars and a set, or different illustrations. 7. Finishing Touches on Your Avatar: So, for this video, we're going to put some final touches on our avatar, take some of the small tweaks we've made, add some color, possibly add some different elements to the avatar and start looking at how to take these specific elements that you created into a different avatar that you're creating maybe for your friend or a set for a company, but really, how to extend the stuff that you did into other work. Here, you can see, this is my final retouched up one. You can see there's some different changes to the nose, and the hat's a little bit different, the eyes, the ears. So I just went through slowly tweaking everything. You can do the same. This looks pretty good but I just wanted to tweak it a little bit more. I think another next step for this one is starting to add some color into it. I have been using these colors lately that I like a lot, this blue and this red, so I'm going to make everything those colors. You could use reference colors from your photo or just do whatever you want. It's also good, at this point, to see how it looks compared to your photo and see if you achieved what you set out to achieve. I wanted to reference some of that classic Mickey Mouse illustration but also make an approachable avatar using these simple shapes, and it has some reference to my dominant features, and I think it did that. You have the hat, glasses, eyebrows, all those, and it looks approachable but still referencing those old classic Mickey Mouse features, but not too much. Okay, cool. So, again, I like these blue and reds that I've been using a lot. I'll go through and start changing a bunch of these. A kind of easy way I do it is I'll group it all together, go within this group, select the object, and choose the same fill and stroke. Now, I'll change the strokes to blue. I'll select the same fill color, change that to blue. Same stroke color, change that. Okay, that's cool. So, again, I like this color a bunch. I think the next step is finding different areas to maybe add some tone or texture to. I like my stuff pretty simple, so I'm not going to add too much shading or tone to these elements, but maybe just like a little bit to play up this cheese a little bit more. We can add these rosy cheeks. I'm going to change the transparency though. Let's just make this at 40 percent, something like that. That is cool. Just these final touches. That looks good and let's change, I'll ungroup that, these guys to red maybe. Cool, I like it. I also have this other portion here. It's fun to add different things to your avatar. If you want different accessories, maybe you could design some logo for the shirts. This one, I wanted me to be saying something, so I have this little bubble. Maybe I can move some of these stuff. Take him away. I have this little speech bubble that I've been using in certain things, and filling it with different sayings, emojis, everything like that. This is the shrug shoulder, I think it's pretty fun. Again, keeping it pretty simple but you could add different things to your avatar, maybe some like bursts. This is also slightly manga style, burst whatever. But I'm actually really like how this is starting to look, so I'm going to keep it as it is like this. Oh, here's another copy I did. For the next step of this is to, once you got something that you really like, I'm going to put this by my face here, we can start to see how these things look together. Pretty cool. Pretty fun. Now, I think the next step is extending this into other artwork that you can use in specific projects or just creating more avatars. I think the things that are starting to surface here that are really characteristic are the eyes, the ears, seem pretty something that we could reference. I think mouth is something distinctive to other people and something we don't need to carry through, and the eyebrows are something like characteristic to me more. So, for example, let's even just take a quick shape here. I'm going to make the shape come close to the face here and change it a little bit, too. Let's make this a little bit squaddier, maybe we'll just go with an ellipse. Okay. Now, we'll stretch it out a little bit, too. So, it's a little bit more of our oval shape than the rectangle life here. But now, we can take these eyes, eye shape. The nose shape, we'll do something different for here. Maybe this can be a more of a pointy nose, still rounded. Just copy this ear, like we said, that might be nice to keep consistent. The mouth, let's do something different as well. I think a characteristic to keep there is the simple line weight of it. So, maybe this person is happy. Yes, I don't like that. Okay, that's good. I think these are pretty distinctive, too, if we take them. These bags under the eyes, maybe not. Let's try some different eyebrows, too. I'm doing this pretty quick. Again, you'll probably want to tweak them down and get to maybe another neck shape. That's okay. That face is bugging me a little bit. Okay. That's okay. It still looks like eyes are pretty characteristic of the style, so I think it's nice to bring through the line weights. I don't really know what to do for this guy's hair. Let's just make it big and bushy. Again, this is super quick. I think I'd have to tweak this a whole lot more. But you're getting the idea of how you can start to bring these specific elements into other avatars. I think I'm going to work on this a whole lot more, but it's a good idea that you can have. It's a good start to thinking about how this can be extended into other things. Now that you have your avatar, you could take it and use it in your avatar for social media, Facebook, Twitter, just different places where you have that little bit that you could put your personality to. I might even take this guy myself and create maybe some 'Thank you' cards for clients, I was thinking. So, I could take him and the card could say 'Thanks'. Again, super quick, but I might make some cards out of this and I have this riso printer that I'll use where it's easy to use these simple two colors. That would be good for a screen print, something like that. So, you can also put this on different things, think of how you can use it. You can make it a stamp. You could do a bunch of cool things. But that's pretty much how to finalize your character, build in some extra elements, and start to make different icons or avatars within that specific style given the elements you've created. Cool. Thanks. 8. Wrap Up: Okay. We're all done with our avatar. I hope you got a pretty cool personal avatar for yourself. You can use it again on all your social media accounts. You could even take what you learned here to create avatar for your company, for a client work. I look forward to seeing your process shots, your final product, anything you want to include, kind of like how I included all those different variations, different steps I did. Let's see that. That would be pretty cool or different experiments you did. That'd be fun too to see the different eyes, the different nose. Thanks for taking the class again, and look really forward to what you guys create. Thanks. 9. Explore Design on Skillshare: way.