Quick Toons: 2D Character Design - On a Whim! | KozmōKon | Skillshare

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Quick Toons: 2D Character Design - On a Whim!

teacher avatar KozmōKon, 2D Illustrator

Watch this class and thousands more

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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 (16m)
    • 1. Quick Toons: An Introduction

    • 2. Class & Project Breakdown

    • 3. Form Factor

    • 4. Special Features

    • 5. Strike a Pose

    • 6. Room for Change

    • 7. In Living Color

    • 8. Where We Go From Here

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About This Class

From doodle to final draft, I’ll walk you through the ins-and-outs of designing original 2D characters - On a Whim!

I’ll give you the lowdown on all there is to know about effortlessly creating original characters fit to be animated, illustrated, and every other -ated in between! All while giving you a step-by-step tutorial on how to use the TFC method to create them, short for Think Up, Fix Up, and Clean Up!

Regardless of your art experience, this class was made with everyone in mind! No prior knowledge or digital software is necessary, any paper and drawing utensils you have on hand will do just fine.

In addition to 2D Character Design essentials, you’ll also learn how to:

  • Effectively brainstorm, conceptualize & finalize designs
  • Build body forms with basic shapes
  • Learn how the power of color can aid your design
  • Break away from tired clichés and tropes so that your designs are totally yours!

At the end of the class, you’ll be creating:

  • Your own original character using the techniques taught in the class.

By the end of the class, you’ll be more than equipped with the tools and knowledge necessary to be able to think up, fix up, and clean up your own original 2D characters - On a Whim!

Meet Your Teacher

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2D Illustrator


Hey there!

I'm KozmōKon (Kause-moe-Kon), a Toronto-based 2D Illustrator studying animation at Sheridan College.

My philosophy is that if you can think it, you can draw it.

My classes are compact, straight to the point, easy to follow, and will help bring your ideas to life.

Their exercises and projects will get those noggin muscles moving and creative juices flowing.

Regardless of how long you've been making art, you'll always leave my class with something new.

To be human is to always learn. Let's make that learning fun!

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1. Quick Toons: An Introduction: Psst! Hey, hey, hey you. Yeah, you, the one watching this. Are you looking to learn how to design characters, but... don't really know where to begin? If so, then look no further! Hey there! I'm KozmōKon, but everyone calls me Kozmō. I'm a Character Designer and Illustrator with a love for everything cartoony. From doodle to final draft, I'll take you through the basics of designing 2D characters fit for animation, illustration, and everything in between, in Quick Toons: 2D Character Design - On a Whim! I'll be your voice guide on everything there is to know about effortlessly creating original characters from the ground up using the TFC method, short for Think Up, Fix Up and Clean Up, all while creating my own character using this method, and giving you tips and tricks along the way. Beginner or pro, anyone and everyone is free to join! No previous knowledge of software is necessary. Some drawing utensils and some paper are all you're gonna need here. In addition to the essentials of 2D character design, you'll also learn how to effectively brainstorm, conceptualize and finalize designs, Build body forms with basic shapes, Master and harness the power of color to aid your designs, and break away from tired clichés and tropes, so that your designs are totally unique. By the end of the class, you'll be more than equipped with the tools and knowledge necessary to be able to Think Up, Fix Up, and Clean Up your own 2D characters - On a Whim! So if you're looking to kick-start your character design skills, then this class will help you do just that. I'll see you there! 2. Class & Project Breakdown: Before we begin, it's important that we first break down what it is we'll be doing and prepare ourselves for the class. Take this time now to pause this video and get yourself a couple of sheets of your preferred paper and some drawing utensils. Colored pencils, pens, markers, whatever you can get your hands on will do just fine. This class will teach you how to design characters using the TFC method. TFC, standing for Think Up, Fix up and Clean up, A method I use regularly when designing characters. Each lesson will work as a step-by-step guide to this method. At the end of the class, you'll put your learning to the test in your project. We'll recap everything we learned and you'll design your own character using the method. And with that, we are ready to go. In our first lesson, we'll begin our character design process by working with forms. 3. Form Factor: Form Factor. Alright, here we are, lesson one. Let's start by talking about forms in why the lesson was given this name. What is a form? A form can be anything from the combined round top and pointy end of an ice cream cone, to the curves of a pear, or the swirl of a seashell. Essentially, a form is the shape of something that makes that something identifiable. And identifiable form is crucial when it comes to character design, as this is what will make your character stand out from the rest. We'll be starting this lesson off by drawing some basic shapes to wake up our hands. Here, I've got a circle, here, a square, and here, a triangle. Alright, so you've got the shapes, and now you're probably thinking: "Now what?" The whole idea of this exercise is to take these basic shapes and distort them a little more each time we draw them, which will eventually give them their own form to call your own. So this time we're going to make the same shapes, but loosen our wrists a little bit. Okay, not bad. We can do better, though. Alright, it's getting there. Let's go one more time. See, now these are forms. They aren't your conventional shapes and they can serve as a great base for a character. Now if you're having trouble, pause the lesson and take the time you need until you get the shapes you're satisfied with. I recommend looking around and trying to take inspiration from the shapes you're surrounded by. Take those shapes and make them your own by doing the same exercise we just covered. Now, out of the three forms you've got in front of you right now, I want you to pick one. That form will serve as the base for your character for this class. Now, out of the three I have, I'm going to pick... this one. This one I prefer, I think the shape just kinda stands out more from the rest and I can see myself making a great character out of this. No need to toss the other ones out! Feel free to save the other forms even made to create characters out of in the future. Now, moving on to the next lesson, we're going to be given our forms some features. 4. Special Features: Special Features. If you couldn't tell by the title. We're gonna be adding eyes, ears, arms, legs, and other features to our forms. Now, about the form, is there a certain part of the body you see your form being a part of? Could it be the character's head, torso, or could the form be the entire body itself? As for me, I can see my form being a good torso for my character. I insist that you mix and match as you please. You can do a lot with a single form. Give 'em big ears, claws, crazy patterns, antennas, whatever your mind can conjure up. Mess around and see what you can come up with. After a bit of messing around in my form, I've come up with this little alien... dude? I... think they're an alien? I'm not exactly 100% sure what they're supposed to be in the stage, which is the whole point. Gave them an oval head, added an antenna... ...What are either hands or flippers on the side of his hips there... What I'm thinking will become hands later on, and two big old feet. Now don't worry if you're not satisfied with your design, it's not finite. You'll have the option to change it later on. Once you've given your form features are satisfied with. We'll move on to the next lesson, where we'll put them in motion. 5. Strike a Pose: Strike a Pose. This lesson, we're gonna take our character, and pose them at least five times. Make each pose as unique from each other as you can. Here are some ideas. You can have your character running, casually sitting, casually walking, upset with their arms crossed, dancing, or fighting. At this point, I usually ask myself things such as: "Is this character loose and nimble, or are they stiff and stoic?" You can say a lot about your character by drawing them in a certain way. Now, when drawing your character, be sure to ask yourself: "Do the limbs feel wonky one moved?" "Does a certain feature not work at a certain angle?" Is your character not capable of achieving certain poses? If so, keep them in mind and make a note of these flaws somewhere, as you'll need to acknowledge them in the next lesson. We're doing this to explore the character, you know? Get a feel for the way it moves. Your character is a puppet. And as the artist, you're the puppeteer. Now I'm not 100% about the poses here, and here. We'll work on these next lesson and decide what we want to change. 6. Room for Change: Room for Change. When it comes to the way a character looks, nothing is really ever set in stone. To put it simply: don't get overly attached to your designs. Who knows? You just might realize down the line that there's another way you'd prefer to draw them. As for alien dude here, I'm really not crazy about the horns coming out the side of its head, and the little flappers that I assumed were going to eventually become hands. Another thing I'm going to change are the beady eyes. Just like from afar, I can totally see the eyebrows on top being mistaken for the eyes, and the actual eyes themselves being mistaken for nostrils. Now you can take this time to make any small edits, changes that you want to your design, too. Even the most popular characters out there have changed over time. That can be the result of different artists drawing the same character a slightly different way, or just natural updates to their design. Either way, your character, with a couple of revisions or a couple of decades worth of tweaks, might not look the same way it did when it was originally designed. All right, and here is the new and improved alien dude! Working title, I'm definitely going to give them a better name. So as you can see, I've virtually kept everything else, the shape, the form, the overall look of it. I've just changed the horns on the side of its head into little bead-type things. I also gave them a fur collar just to give the design a bit of visual interest. But yeah, just like I did, you can also take this time out to take a good look at your character, and really address anything you're not a fan of regarding its design. Certain features, whatever it may be. Learn to be able to acknowledge the flaws in your designs and remedy them. Heck, get an outsider's opinion if you have to. They just might see something you wouldn't have ever noticed without their feedback. With that, we're ready to move on to the next step and give them color! 7. In Living Color: In Living Color. Here we are, lesson five. One of my favorite processes when it comes to designing characters. We're now going to be giving our designs a spritz of color. In most cases, the use of color can really determine where a character fits in the world they inhabit. For example, an upbeat color palette will immediately signify to the viewer that this person is good-hearted and someone that can be trusted. A dark, moody color palette... Will tell the viewer about this as a baddie, someone that's up to no good. Now from one fellow artist to another, I'm going to go ahead and recommend that you turn tropes on their head. Why not give your main character the darker color palette, and their opposition the brighter one? Don't be afraid to rock the boat a little bit. It'll make your design stick out from the rest and make them all the more memorable. Now for the process of picking out colors for alien dude over here, I'm going to be using a color wheel for reference. It's my go-to method for picking out colors for characters, as color harmony will make a character that much more appealable, and overall nicer to look at. For my base color, I'm looking at a green, I think a green would fit them very well. And secondary colors, I'm seeing magentas, I'm seeing reds, oranges, yellows, purples... you know what? Let me mess around and I'll get back to you on that. Now if I've managed to successfully pick out colors and a final name for alien dude here. you'll see that right... Now. And now, I would like to proudly introduce you to... GoZeeeBo! There they are. From form to final design, GoZeeeBo is complete! And here's the final composition. Now just taking a good look at them. I'm more than satisfied with how this came out. Really big fan of the overall shape, and they make a great silhouette! And with that, it is project time! 8. Where We Go From Here: Congratulations! You've completed the class, and in turn, have learned how to design characters on a whim in three easy steps! Now don't go anywhere just yet! We've got a project breakdown to do. Alright, this is it. We've gone through the process of what goes into making a character, and now we're going to put your learning to the test- by creating your own. Here's how you'll do it! Think Up! Begin with creating a form made up of either basic shapes, or an impromptu blob. Your choice! Once you've done that, gives said form some features. Add and remove them to your heart's content. Fix up! Bring your form to life by drawing them in five varying poses, facial expressions and all. From there, ask yourself: "Does something feel off?" If so, tweak your character with these issues in mind until those problems are remedied. Clean Up! If you can give 'em color, give 'em color. Choose a base color and secondary colors that will complement the base using a color wheel. Draw a final composition of your character in a neutral pose, and admire your creation. Be sure to share your process work and the final design. I'd love to see your process and give feedback. With that, I'd like to personally thank you for taking this class. I can't wait to see your creations come to life. I've been Kozmō. 'Til next time.