Shorty-Shorts: Design A Cartoon Character | Chasity Hampton | Skillshare

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Shorty-Shorts: Design A Cartoon Character

teacher avatar Chasity Hampton, CEO of Whimsical Designs by CJ, LLC

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

5 Lessons (14m)
    • 1. Class Overview

    • 2. Cartoon Influences

    • 3. Know Thy Character

    • 4. Apply Shape Language

    • 5. Sketching for Design

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About This Class


"Shorty-shorts" is a series of design classes created around the idea of learning content in fifteen minutes or less.

In part one of this three part series, I'll take you through the steps of designing your cartoon character from ideation to final sketch. I break down the most essential concepts in creating a likable and believable cartoon character for your cartoon, animation, or comic project. The great thing about part one of this course is that it is FREE to enroll! All you need is your creativity and something to draw with.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Till then, 


Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Chasity Hampton

CEO of Whimsical Designs by CJ, LLC


I love creating illustrations and have always loved the Arts since I could hold a crayon. Now I am on a journey to share my art with a world...

one crayon at a time.

P.S feel free to check out my latest children's book project, Kaiden The Great and The Sinister Lunch Lady. Found on Amazon!

See full profile

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1. Class Overview: Hey, guys, I'm Chastity Hampton, a freelance. It'll shorter as well as art hobbyist Shorty shorts is the Sooners of design. Classes are created around the idea of learning content in 15 minutes or less. In part one of this three part series, I'll take you through the steps, designing your cartoon character from ideations of Final Sketch. I break down the most essential concepts, creating a likable and believable cartoon character for your cartoons, animation or even comic book project. The great thing about part one of this course is that it's freaks and roll. All you need is your creativity and something to draw with. I look forward to seeing you there still then. 2. Cartoon Influences: Hey, guys, welcome to Shorty Shorts. Design a cartoon character. Okay, so the first thing that we're gonna look at our cartoon influences, what cartoons are you inspired by? Cartoon influences can be gathered by collecting a series of images or still frames from cartoon episodes that you like. I encourage you to explore the Web and find four or maybe even three designs that appeal to you. Once gathered, I want you to look through those images one by one and jot down. What about that cartoon actually inspires you? So here's some things to consider line. Consider the line. Wait the line texture or maybe even the color of the line style. An example would be the differences between Tim Burton and Dr Seuss or color. What is the general color palette for the show? Primary Colors. Or maybe it's more monochromatic. Once you decide what appeals to you, choose 2 to 3 of those details, or maybe even one detail to implement into your characters design. And then I want you to finally upload your choices and images to the Project gallery. As you can see here, I've chosen three different shows that I admired as told by Ginger Steven Universe and Kung Fu Panda. Underneath each of those images, I want you to write down something about that particular episode, or maybe that particular show that makes you gravitate towards the artwork. So, for as told by Ginger, I noticed that the line work wasn't necessarily in black sometime, it varied in color, depending on what the particular color of what shirt they were wearing. Army with the color of their hair. Another show that I liked with Steven Universe. The color scheme is essentially very bright, and their eyes are often expressive. And finally, but definitely not least is Kong Fu Panda. The characters are drawn with elements of realism, so there's a lot of shading and a lot of lighting added to the characters to give them more dimension. So what that being said, go ahead and get started and then upload them to the Project gallery. 3. Know Thy Character: welcome guys to know thy character. What we love the most about cartoons aside from design, is there endearing personalities, backstory and motivation? It's important as a designer that our characters are three dimensional. Or rather, they have many layers. Remember in the movie Shrek? Donkey wondered why strict in just grind his enemies bones like all the yogurt overs were known for. But then Check replied, Brokers are like onions. They have many layers. What it was implying by that statement is that he's more than a one note scary type poker. He has layers. Here are some things to consider Number one personality to back story three character type where he's a hero and a hero or a villain motivations their internal innovations and their external motivations, their strengths and weaknesses and likes and dislikes. For the purpose of this class, we're going to be focusing on their personality, their back story and what type of character they are. The characters I'm basing off of this particular subject line are Goldie Locks and Baby Bear. If you remember the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, remember correctly that she snuck into the house and she ate from each single blow. I'm going to be changing the story just a little bit. I'm gonna be redoing their names in creating two different characters based off fairy tale gold Osama in aka John Baby Bear. As you've noticed, the names have hints of a Japanese background. Which brings me to my three top points personalities, character traits and back story for the personalities of my character. I wanted my Goldilocks, or rather Goldie, solid to be loud, opinionated, hotheaded and a risk taker. And I wanted my baby bear known as off the charm, to be reserved, quiet, levelheaded and cautious as you notice here that personalities actually balance each other out, which brings home the idea of yen and yank. And I rather like that as its strong really highly among Asian culture. Another thing I wanted to do is for these characters to be heroes and finally there backstory. I wanted their back story to be based off of feudal Japan air, and I wanted them to be highly trained samurai their stories that they frequently go on missions for their emperor into the dense force surrounding their kingdom, and their mission is to defeat enemies who try to destroy and take over their home. Your next delivery herbal for this class project is to create your own, know that character outline for your character or characters. 4. Apply Shape Language: shape. Language is a way of communicating to the audience, the personality of your cartoon character, using the information you've gathered and, you know in your character outline, you can base your character off of a certain shape to enforce those attributes. So looking at the silhouettes in front of you, do you? What do you believe these character types to be hero or villain mean or kind, adventurous or Solan of withdrawn? I'll give you a few seconds. Decide for each silhouette. All right, so now that you've actually looked at the images, what did you get a feel for? For each of the characters? Here's the grand reveal. Each of these characters has a certain shape associating with them, and those shapes give you or rather they communicate are certain language. And for the first shape we have here is the circle. You can see that the circle is used in her body as well as her eyes, and her feet are just variations of circles. They're ovals. Likewise, if we moved to North character, we can see that the shape that they primarily used for his design is the square. They alternate between square and rectangle, but as I mentioned before. This is just a variation of the square. So in his arms as well of his legs, they're all using that square shape. Moving on such a far. We can see that this that the shape using his design is the triangle, and some of these triangles are inverted, but the idea is the same. Each of these shapes represents, or rather communicates a certain thing about that character. So for the first shape, the circle thes air most commonly associate it with characters that are innocent. Likewise, it also is, um, more associated with characters that are more relatable as well as cute. Or maybe it represents purity for a character north. Here, thes squares types care characters are more commonly associated with stubbornness, as well as the fact that it represents stability and finally, masculinity. Finally, we have our character, Jafar. The's triangles represent usually devious characters, and you'll often see in Disney's motif for all their villains, they usually have some kind of triangular detail to their character. Some other things to think about is if we invert the triangle like this and your characters primarily heavy on the bottom and smaller at the top. These characters could be dignified as being awkward. Likewise, we can look at those angles that are created within the triangle Any time you have sharp angles in the design of a character, that's another way of exemplifying the fact that this character is a villain. Or maybe they're awkward. Or maybe they're just sneaky, so sneaky. Characters can often have a lot of angles associate with them. All right, so let's go ahead and get started on my gold Osama and a coach, John. 5. Sketching for Design: Hey, guys, welcome to sketching for design. So in this phase, we're going to focus primarily on using the silhouettes and then building on that with a sketch. So I'm building on the sketch for my gold Islamic character, and I'm focusing primarily on getting the idea across getting something on the board here. So I'm just doing the general shape, thinking about the armor in the helmet that she'll have on. You'll see me duplicate it onto the right side, just tohave a completely symmetrical character. And I'm going to see I'm gonna do the same thing, actually, with my aka John character later in the design process, so noticed that I started with that square, okay, trying to send home that masculine message. He's ah, do writer. Okay, he follows the rules. So everything about him I knew for sure it was going to be symmetrical as well as the fact that those square shapes are more more visible on characters that are a little bit stubborn . So he has a little bit of stubbornness attached his character as well. So I'm looking at my references. You notice that I have my references right on the canvas to the right. I have them on separate layers so it can always hide him if I want to. That's a good workflow. If you wanna use that in your own design process, I'm getting that really strong silhouette on the left side, and then I'm gonna do is select it. I'm going to copy it and then flip it horizontally onto another layer and you'll see that I'll get a perfectly symmetrical silhouette after doing that. And that's a great little tip that I taught myself instead of, you know, painstakingly trying to get everything the same left as you do on the right. That's the easier way of getting to that point, especially when you're just trying to get your ideas down. So after I finished his character, I realized that it wasn't his. A strong but goalie Saunas character wasn't as strong as it. So you're gonna see me actually go back to gold is on his character, and I'm gonna change it a little bit. I'm thinking more about the shapes, and I'm like, let me add more circular shapes. She's a little bit too more menacing than I actually would like, so I'm gonna add some more circles to her. Her uniform. I'm not sure yet what it's gonna be. I'm just worried about the silhouette. For now. Later on, we'll worry about that, but I'm just adding more circles to her shape. And I'm keeping some of those angles because she is a warrior, so she has to be a little bit intimidating. Right? So after I finished that, you're going to see me do the same thing I did for aka John duplicated onto another layer and then flip it horizontally. Great. So now what I'm gonna do, I'm gonna line them up side by side because they are fighting side by side. Right. So you want to make sure they're in good proportion to get together. Once I was happy with that. You're gonna see me skip forward a little bit, But this is the general sketch. So now I'm looking at that silhouette that I created and seeing. Okay, So what is that silhouette? Indignity of off. What is it? So some of those circular shapes I know it's going to be part of her helmet at the very top . And then you could see in the bottom the rounder shape that I had added was almost like a part. Have some kind of dressy like armor in the back. Just I wasn't sure what it was, but aesthetically, it worked. And I'm gonna do the same thing for my our kitchen character. I'm looking at those references of the bear here and struggling a lot when it comes to the face. So you see me struggle. It looks like an ape, and this happens in the design process. If you find that when you're drawing, it doesn't look anything like it. Go back to your references. Find another reference. That's what I did. I found another reference of a bear, and I started utilizing that and then thinking about the shapes again, adding those square shapes into his face to bring home the message that this is a masculine character. So the best thing to do when you're struggling is to go back to your inspiration, go back to your references. So you notice I'm not getting too fussy about the details in the armor right now. I'm just doing a couple stripes here and there because I know that in the final line final lining stage, I'm gonna actually add those details. So once again, that same technique a used with, um, selecting the best side and then duplicating in flipping it horizontally. I'm going to do the same exact thing. Now I'm done. So what would have took forever? It took half the amount of time, and this concludes part one of character design and the Shorty Short Siri's I'll see You in Part two were were actually discussed. All the wonderful things with varying You're lying quality, as well as how to create more death and composition when you're creating your character. So look forward to seeing a part two line design.