Draw a Circus of Characters: Exploring Body Shape and Proportion

Nina Rycroft, Picture Book Illustrator

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13 Lessons (56m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Understanding the Basics in Body Proportion

    • 3. Looking at Shape Across Time and Media

    • 4. Making a Good First Impression

    • 5. Designing Your Characters Using Shape

    • 6. Layering-In More Detail

    • 7. Drawing Character One

    • 8. Drawing Character Two

    • 9. Drawing Character Three

    • 10. Drawing Character Four

    • 11. Drawing Character Five

    • 12. BONUS Body Proportion Drawing Demo

    • 13. To Finish

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About This Class

Do you want to learn how to draw characters quickly and easily? 

I can show you how by using simple shapes.

First in a three-part Body Works series and designed for beginners and seasoned artists alike, this class walks you step-by-step through the character design process, guiding you through every aspect of drawing your own set of circus-inspired characters.

During the classes you can shadow me as I produce a set of characters for a 'real' project – an unpublished YA (young adult) manuscript – and take you through my thinking and design process, giving you tools and tips to apply to your own characters. This class offers drawing demonstrations, worksheets, offering inspiration along the way, giving you every opportunity to draw the best circus act in town!

In this class, you will learn ...

about body proportions: how to draw the ideal body at various ages.


Body Shapes
- how and why shape is used when designing character
- how a set of characters evolved across time and media
- the importance of making a first (and lasting) impression


The Process
- how to draw a set of characters from simple shapes to a finished drawing


You will need ...

  • Something to draw on. Paper, an art pad or iPad.
  • Something to draw with. In class, I'll be using my 'Staedtler Mars Technico' clutch pen with refillable blue and carbon (normal pencil) leads. This set also comes with a sharpener. I've had my set for 20 odd years ... so it's well worth the investment.
    If you don't want to go to this expense, you can use a blue colored pencil and a 'regular' lead pencil.


Interested in character design? 

Below is my series of Skillshare classes that walk you through the entire process of how to illustrate a character from start to finish. Use this series to either brush-up on a particular skill or work your way through, for a comprehensive guide.

Nina's Skillshare Character Design Series

  1. Face Facts: Beginners Guide to Drawing a Self Portrait
  2. Face Shapes: Draw a Series of Character Using Simple Shapes 
  3. 101 Guide to Drawing Eyes
  4. Emoji Me: The art of Facial Expression
  5. How to Draw the Head From Every Angle: Part One
  6. How to Draw the Head From Every Angle: Part Two
  7. How to Draw the Head From Every Angle: Part Three
  8. Draw a Circus of Characters: Exploring Body Shape and Proportion
  9. Draw a Circus of Movement: Simple Techniques to Bring Characters to Life
  10. Draw a Circus of Line & Gesture: Design a Picture Book Character From Start to Finish
  11. Watercolor Magic: One Character Five Ways
  12. Illustration Masterclass - Exploring Technique and Style
  13. Learn to Use Procreate: Design and Illustrate a Bear Character