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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

10 Lessons (40m)
    • 1. INTRO


    • 3. CONCEPT

    • 4. DESIGN



    • 7. COLORS

    • 8. DRAWING



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About This Class


We are going to develop two characters which we will then stage together in a fun and compelling way. This includes basics of character design, technical aspects of using watercolors and working on the illustration digitally.

The class is for everyone who wants their illustration to be more lively and make the viewer to connect more. Depending on the complexity of the final illustration that you have in mind, it might be helpful to have some experience in conceptual character design and perspective drawing.

Any watercolor brand can be used for this, I highly recommend good quality paper. For the digital part Adobe Photoshop, Procreate or another app and a scanner is needed.

You should be able to use Photoshop, Procreate or another app to draw, work with different brushes and layers. Basic drawing skills are required. 


Meet Your Teacher

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Anja Grote



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1. INTRO: Hi and welcome to my class. Wake up. You carry to illustrate my name is in your court. I am in l. A stretcher from Germany working mainly in the fields of Children's books and advertising. This'll class is about character illustration geared towards creating an opera it and developing a set of characters to play with later on and other pro chains. Throughout this class, we will touch on several topics. We will speak about the class project and developing at years sketching and developing the character, staging and creating an interesting scene. We'll touch on lighting situation and finally I'm sharing with you my painting technique which is based on animal watercolors and digital finalization. I love the natural look pestle callus on the vivid structure that come by working this way that you are completely free to work in other techniques. If you like basic drawing skills are required since we will cover some things only briefly , like for any prospective. So I hope this sounds interesting to you, and I think that we can have a lot of fun creating together 2. CLASSPROJECT: Welcome to Part two off. Wake up your character illustration. Ah, Class Project is the creation of an R print and two characters for your portfolio. The topic is best Bodies were going to invent related figures to friends. This can be objects, plans, anthropomorphic figures or humans displayed in an interesting situation painted in a colorful and engaging way. We want to try to infuse the average with liveliness and lotion. We want the viewer to be emotionally connected to the characters. I take you through my process and give you step by step explanations so that you can follow along with your own set of characters. And in your own style, I really can't wait to see what you guys will come up with. So let's go ahead in the next lesson will jump writing. We will start collecting ideas for characters. 3. CONCEPT: welcome to part three of Wake Up You Can administration now we can really get created because we need to get to know the characters that we want to display and find ideas for them. So let's start with the basic decisions here. Do you want to work with human figures or animals? Entrepreneur FIC, animals or objects? Maybe we can think of a 1,000,000 things here. Where do they live? What are their fears? The habits, passions for problems? Maybe. Maybe you already have a type of figure nine. Like I, for example, want to draw a dragon and a girl. But so far, that's all that I know. So I came up with the list here for the girl. I want her to be five years old and clever. She loves freedom. She loves nature. She spends a lot of time outside. She's pretty autonomous, curious, imaginative, honest, often quiet and maybe a bit surface. I think it's good to integrate also some beds character traits because it makes the figure more interesting and complex. Same for the dragon. I think it should be a younger drinking. He's only 555 years old and small forward drink his clumsy and a bit dark like a thing he loves. Astronomy is cheeky, impulsive, acting as a invulnerable, easily upset, which can be funny at times and afraid of water, which I think can lead to some interesting story ideas. You and I also thought about the relationship of those two guys. Which brings us to the back story. Um, I figured that the dragon lives in the backyard off the girl, and that's because she saved him. Once. This might be leading to a deeper story. Is as well Have you thought about things that connect them like they're up to no good and a lot of chaos window together. So now I want you to find your characters, make a description right outs, many things that you like and combine those off them that you want to use in the illustration. Look around. Maybe there's someone you want to do a caricature of, or you want to say something special to a good friend or whatever. I am curious to see what you come up with and feel free to share your ideas in the project gallery, and then we'll meet again in less and for where we are going to design our characters 4. DESIGN: come to lessen four off. Wake up your character illustration where we will speak about researching anatomy styles, sketching body shapes, sketching different poses. Then we'll check the silhouettes. We defend rules of proportions for character and were taken care off the contrast on balance between the two characters. So let's begin. First step is always researched. I look up some images and anatomical drawings of trains. Since it's fantasy creature, there are not too many rules to follow. But of course we wanted to be believable. So it doesn't hurt to check out images of animals off fantasy drawings that have anatomy fitting for all Dragon. And be sure to check out also a variety of different styles. That's why I also researched keywords like Cartoon Dragon cartoony and these kind of things . Then I did a very simplified sketch just to get comfortable with the anatomy and construction basically off the dragon. Having this kind of structure in mind helps me to later know where the joints and dreams are and how I can move them around when I want to put the dragon in different poses. Depending on the simple shapes, you choose to start with character will appear differently. For example, a square will lead you to a more stable and probably slow figure. The V shaped triangle indicates a more muscular or maybe ill statement person with index. I'd recommend to try out many different forms and shapes with both characters to find out the tonality and their impression in general. But remember, it's best to stay really, really simple. Here he dance. I'm more distracting than helpful. So I decided on a being kind of shape with two tips. And then I started to play around with it because I need to get a feeling for how the body works and how I can use the construction. You see me always starting with a sphere. It doesn't matter if you want to use fled coloring later or if it will have indications of deepness. I believe it's important to know how the shapes work in three dimensions. After having decided on the underlying structure, we should also make sure that the character is easily readable and that the shape is interesting. We can do so by checking the city wit. After that, I defined some rules for the dragons anatomy. You can see I took that the head off the dragon and placed it next to the other areas of the body. To get a feel for the relationship and proportions the body parts, this will have to drama character in different posts later. The necklace as long as the height of the head, the torso is two times the head. Also, the area where the Taylors attached is around the size off ahead. I just played some imaginary joints to know where the limbs can be moved. Then, when it comes to the second character, do the same thing. Keep an eye on how they work together now and create a nice contrast between that. Sizes and shapes, for example, combined big and small are detailed, minimalistic areas for the class project. I want you to now take your character ideas and take them through all the steps that we just went to and don't hesitate to share your results in. The project Gallery is always nice and helpful to get the feedback of other students and teachers, so I wish you a lot of fun resistant. Next, we will get more detailed with the design and give up character's personality 5. PERSONALITY: Hi and welcome to lesson number five off. Wake up the character illustration. We will now take a closer look on poster and expressions closing style, an accessory off our characters based on my list from Lesson three. I had a vision in mind of Madrid. I wanted his force should resemble the movements of a dark. So I did some studies based on photos to get a feeling for the poster and transferred them to my figure. I think it fits pretty well to a clumsy, warmhearted and bulls of creature that is the best friend of someone. Each character needs a different set of inspirations, so you might want to use a famous character from a breed to be a model for your characters , facial expression or the way he or she moved the hands or body. Also, H and fitness can be something to make your character special to find dynamic poses and recommend to check out snapshots from towards and study does for hair styles and clothes. Think of the character's traits and preferences, but he or she liked to dress casually airy, stiff, elegant, boring or fancy. Check out fashion size and images of hairstyles defend something that could be a good fit. You can also think of objects that is used to run away. Maybe because the real thing isn't available to the character or just to add a little fun. Is there some necessary that get the character might use and why? What problem can be solved by that? Once you've made all those choices, draw your characters consistently in several poses on for different. I'm looking forward to see your creations. Next, we're gonna take care of the sea and find out what is happening and how we learn stage it. 6. STORY STAGING: come to listen. Six off, Wake up. You carry the illustration where we will talk about what is happening in your illustration and how we can stage it to support everything that you want to say with it. I love doing mind maps for this stage, Mr Characters features and possible anchor points of a story or just surroundings and situations you maybe want to use. Follow the past until you find several possible scenes that are interesting enough to be illustrated scenes that you can connect with. I started off from the trades of my characters so that it later really make sense that they are in the situation and not someone else guiding questions could be. What are they doing? Where and when is the scene taking place? Why pose off the character and what is the general mood? I'll give you some time to look at this mind map. I put circles around the things that I like the most, these other base for the next decisions up here. It all comes together. We want to integrate the different ideas so that it all makes sense. My base ideas will following night scene peaceful in nature, jungle trip on the dragon's back watching stars and found this together makes sense when the friends are under way out in the woods is already dark. The dragon carriers a telescope to give hint what they are about to do. The post should express easiness and energy. So let's go back to the overview I chose on the content off, See, but not how I want to display it. The most obvious next things to determine our pose and perspective for viewing angle. I did this sketch of my two astronomers. The girl is sitting on the bag off a friend and everything looks quite peaceful. But this composition has some problems. There is no movement in it. The dragon looks stiff and standing still. She is leaving for wards, which appears a bit unnatural and they're not really connected because of the different doing directions. The whole composition is too centred and symmetric for what I want to say. I then tried to address those things by letting the dragon's body follow s curve, which gives more dynamic to feel to it. He's living up one leg that indicates cities walking the body is not wristed, which supports the bubbly personality more, and it allows a direct connection with eye contact between those two. The girl is leaning backwards, which reminds the view of riding a horse. It indicates more temple and movement, and also her braveness and relaxed attitude. Focal point is completely between the upper and little part of the image, which leads the viewers. I don't clean to their faces and makes the image more interesting to watch. If you want to learn more about that, check out composition. It's like rule of asserts, the rule of arts. Foreground interest in Death, di arguments and triangles, repetition left right rule. Also, you'll find a lot more time to think about values and lighting. We could mention a 1,000,000 things here, but that's topic for more than one class. So I will say this. If you work digitally throwing some values, where is a dark, Where is liked? What exactly are the light sources think about? Are they natural or artificial? You want to guide the viewer to certain areas in the image, or let them discover aspects off one after the other. Even though we don't want to achieve 100 person, realistically, we want to help him or her toe understand the scene. Clearly, the goal is simply fight and stylized representation. So we give hints to reviewer. We want to enable them to emotionally connect with the seen and the characters. A very powerful way to create visual interest and focus is to choose a very range toe working like a camera that over exposes light areas, for example, and you are able to see many details in the dark. Also, try to simplify and Greece from time to time. But this you can find out if the veggie structure supports your composition. It's also a good thing to do some quick studies from landscapes or still let whatever you need to get familiar with the colors and fighting. In my example, I found out that I want to change the first approach of it. I placed a light source on the floor that it isn't coming from a buffet. That's because I loved how the trees are. In one of the studies, I chose to use this image again. Let us see your ideas and compositions in the project gallery. In the next lesson, we think about colors a bit more 7. COLORS: Hello and welcome to lesson number seven of Wake up your character registration. We quickly speak about different systems are models and by which colors are described. It isn't in the definition off primary colors, the additive model RGB says red, green and blue as primary colors, and it's used for everything that is displayed on screens. This sub strict of models, um, way kay seeing magenta yellow like supplied. With few exceptions for printing many traditional painters years are widely with the primary colors red, blue and yellow for mixing secondary and tertiary colors. As you can see in the Caribbean. For us, it's more important to be aware of the impression that is influenced by color, so it makes sense to think of warm and cold colors. For example, in general, we tend to say use from red through yellow are wrong colors green, blue and gray. It's more cold, but it's important to understand that it's all relative. For example, a rent can appear cool next to a cold green, so why painting Always think about is the color that I need next warmer cooler than the one that I just used. There is another important decision to make. Do you want to use a harmonic or complementary color range? This depends on where you pick your colors from the color wheel from harmony. Colors resemble each other and make a very pleasing and comfortable oppression. If you need something more dynamic, maybe complementary colors are a good fit because they enhanced. Give the vibrancy of your image and consider the impression that light cannot to your set of colors. Look at this. This is cool, light or warm light. You can get a completely different impression. But even more than through the visual impression colors impact through association symbolism and cultural influence. Set of colors that you Hughes will be interpreted. It evokes feelings and subconscious reactions. Some of them are completely personal or differ from culture to culture. But there are some associations that are very common. I want to explain that a bit. On the example of my illustrations, I chose yellow for my dragon because it's alive and she photo. It's associated with strength, warms energy, son, intelligence, joy, lightness, inspiration, communication and attention. Yellow is pretty warm and dynamic, and it contracts in a good way with my cool background because of its high energy and that there are some negative associations to, like hazard egoism, greed and irresponsibility, for example, you know, can given an aggressive impression. That's why I gave it slight radiance, toe orange and details of pink to soften it all up a bit. And at the same time, I used the more aggressive bluish light that shines on his face to support us cheekiness and intelligence. Lucky we also have more than only the color to transport the trades of our character. And the view is able to combine body language and expression and will use color interpretation as support of the message that's already introduced Arrest. So see you and lesson number eight, where we get to the drawing. 8. DRAWING: welcome to aid off. Wake up your character illustration. So now it's time to be really specific. In the video, you can see that I'm starting off from a very rough sketch. I said it to light personally and work on a second layer above and pushing around the lines a little bit to find the best price place for them. I like to use a brush that has kind of color pencil behavior or thinking brush with variation to the thickness and nice edges. They only need those lands to transfer them on watercolor paper in the next step. But if you plan on keeping the lions later administration, which you can totally do, they should be aware off type of stroke or bruscia using accentuation. Zafer. Thin and thick strokes on may be implied lights in each case and recommend to keep an eye on good flowing marks. Be confident and what shaky or short lines Also, a good way to make your drawing appealing is to consider the practice off straight against curve, which makes you drawing more appealing and balanced. I'll give you some seconds to watch the drawing appear, so we've covered a lot of brown here, and I hope we still satisfied and excited on. And, yeah, you follow along and can't wait to grab the brushes now. 9. WATERCOLOR: Welcome to Part nine of Break Up Your character illustration. Before we can start painting way, have to transfer the drawing toe water Cut paper off course. You can't avoid that step by drawing on paper straight away. For me, it's helpful to work out the drawing digitally sometimes, so I'm using a cheap light table for that. Also, I will work on my characters and the background separately. Working with watercolors, I'd recommend to use a good paper. Everything else is secondary, but it's so frustrating. When the paper gets wavy or surface gets destroyed, tape it to a drawing table or just too solid plate. This can be a simple piece of wood and maybe put a book under the top side of it so that the water can run down. My main goal here is to create a nice variation and values. Theme. Colors don't need to be UN percent correct, but it is important to pay attention to the amount off pigment you have on your brush. If there's too much water in the brush, the colored areas on the paper will soak in the water and you'll get these messy watermarks with the color study in mind. I'm keeping the colors for the background and a cold range and work from light to dark and from big shapes to detail. I love how left out white spaces Acto watercolor paintings usually but this scene. We have no use for it, since that shows that it should be a night and lights are soft. Light. White dots would give us very hard spots, but maybe that's good for you. See, so let's move on to the dragon on the go and trying to emphasize the body shape deepness with some soft radiance from yellow to orange. If you have troubles with that, don't worry and maybe practice data bid on a separate paper, try to get continuous and smooth radiance from light to dark, good back and then adding some indications of for and other details workers. Translucent layers for that give the darkest parts for the out. - This is the result of the early stage. It doesn't work. It's finished illustration, of course, and would look a lot different if my goal would be that. But here we want a base and some information that can be used in the next. So let's jump over to that in the next list. And don't forget to share your results in the project. Calories 10. DIGITALPAINTING: hello to the final lesson off wake of your character illustration you have scanned in. The image is now and will begin again with background before I start cleaning up painting details, I want to install the basic lighting and colors. I want the trees to be lived from underneath, so I use a color situation adjustment layer. Make sure that it applies everywhere beginning therefore, the mask should be white. It has no impact where it is black, and you can modulate that with all steps in between, from black to white. I then go in the panel and just a lightness make it all a bit darker than a paint back in the light where I wanted to be. Therefore, I have to paint with black color into the mask. Next, I'm selecting this guy with the last two with the active selection. I then create another use situation. Lay off and you can see that selection transforms to the mask of this layer automatically. And again, I'm making it a little bit darker. I want to have this guy really, really dark so that we can see the stars better for the stars. I'm creating a new layer, and then I attach it to the layer below the U Situation Adjustment layer with the clipping mask. You can do so by holding the option key while clicking between the two layers. You see that a little arrow appears, and that means that the new layer on Lee is visible in the areas where the layer below already is here. I'm trying out the Sprinkle brush for the stars in the background, but I didn't like to sit in so much. You can open the brush settings panel and just pretty much everything there. I wanted to the little dots to appear a little bit more distant from each other, and also I treat the size a little bit to give them a more natural. I raised some of the stars with big textured brush and precious sensitivity. Once that shine really light, I put on extra layer again with keeping mask, and then I painted them in one by one. Then the rial pending process begins. I'm choosing a brush that works like a color pencil, set it to precious sensitivity and work my way through 30 tents. I'm picking Kalis here there, and they're just done with the color wheel whenever I need. This took quite some time, so I let you see this on fast forward. - So here's the result. Then I needed to knock out the dragon from the background and copy it into my image. Then I'm playing around a little bit. I'm trying out different options for lighting, then on doing the same for the shadows. It's basically the same process. I choose you situation layer, put it on, multiply Then I choose the settings that seemed to be a good fit to me. Then again, I worked with the mosque to define the areas where the layer is supplied and where it is not from non. It's not very complicated anymore. It's just a lot off detailed work picking colors and painting it all with. Finally, I add a little more light so that we can see rays of light confront off our carriages again . I am using a use situation and painting the light into the mask and editor to make them soft on. I raise where I don't need them. Next step, its wondered every love I'm using again my color pencil brush, and I'm putting in some more details, but more in a symbolic or textured way. You can see this in little indications of for or at the snout, and finally, I want to add a little bit of magic to the image. So I had some glitter or dust that's floating around in the light of the four round. I met in a bit of shadow here. For sure, this is not a class about realistic lighting in illustration, but I want to mention that this illustration could use a little bit off contact shadow where the food of the dragon is touching the ground. This is something I will most likely correct in my in stray shin later, and this something interesting. You can harmonize the colors in your image very nicely. If you use a radium map and said it too soft light, for example. You can play around with this and try out many, many different Grady ums. Each of them will give you another result, and the tonality can change drastically. But maybe you find something that's really, really a good fit, so that's definitely worth a try and a lot of fun, too. So that's it. I've had a lot of fun creating this cast. And I hope you enjoyed it too. Let me know if you have any questions. I will try to stick around here to answer them as good as I can and definitely share your illustrations in the gallery. I'm super excited to see what this leads you to and always remember. It's all about the process, about learning and having fun. Don't beat yourself up if things don't work at the beginning, We've all been there and we still are. Thank you so much for sticking with me for so long and for your interest in my class. I hope I can provide something helpful and meaningful for you.