Character Design: Drawing People in Motion | Ira Marcks | Skillshare

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Character Design: Drawing People in Motion

teacher avatar Ira Marcks, Graphic Novelist

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

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Class Overview


    • 3.

      Examples and Inspirations


    • 4.

      Warming Up (for Illustrators)


    • 5.

      Framing and Articulation


    • 6.

      Selecting a Pose


    • 7.

      Sketching the Character


    • 8.

      Adding Details


    • 9.

      Inking the Character


    • 10.

      Choosing Colors


    • 11.

      Pushing a Pose


    • 12.

      Class Project: Sketching


    • 13.

      Class Project: Final Art


    • 14.

      Wrap It Up!


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About This Class

Create characters that go the distance!

Tired of characters that just stand around all day? Join cartoonist Ira Marcks in this action-packed class exploring the running pose through a lesson in balance, weight, and body language. Before you know it, you'll have your characters dashing across the page. Perfect for beginners or anyone looking to grow their cartooning skills, working in digital or traditional tools.

Looking for more classes on the fundamentals of cartooning? Check out Cartooning: Bodies and Poses!

Meet Your Teacher

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Ira Marcks

Graphic Novelist

Top Teacher

Ira Marcks is an award-winning and New York Times recommended cartoonist. His love of strange fiction and scientific research has led to an unlikely list of collaborators including the Hugo Award-winning magazine Weird Tales, European Research Council, and a White House Fellowship Scientist. His online courses have inspired 100,000 students.

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1. Introduction: My favorite thing about sitting down to draw a character is watching them come to life. Learning to make a character run across your page is one of those really satisfying techniques that comes with character design and illustration. It's one of those things that connects us to the stories we loved as kids, and inspires us to design our own characters and send them off on adventures. My name's Ira Marcks, I'm a cartoonist, and illustrator, and author. In this class, I'll show you the steps that it takes to create a final illustration that feels like it's in motion. Putting a character into motion is not as hard as it seems. It's just a matter of understanding a few basic ideas on action, posing, proportion, balance, and the physics of the cartoon world. I'll teach you some good practices in sketching, adding detail, finalizing, pushing poses, finding a style through line art, inking, some tips on color, and a few other drawing tips that'll level up your character design skills and get you telling better stories with your illustrations. So if you're ready to draw some new life from your character designs, join me for people in motion, creating lively character. 2. Class Overview: Hey, welcome to the class. Thanks for joining me. Today we're going to focus on drawing characters in motion specifically, in a walking or running pose, poses that reflect a character's personality. This class is going to start with some looks at my own personal work, how I use characters in motion in my storytelling. Then we're going to look at some of my favorite artists and illustrators that have inspired my process and my own art. Then we're going to hop right into some of the fundamentals of designing a character that can be placed in a variety of different poses. Understanding the framework below, the final image, the secret ingredients that make characters come to life. Then we're going to focus on the aesthetic and style of the character, body types, little details and clothing. We're going to shift over into some more technical stuff after that and do a quick lesson in inking technique, bringing out the lines that are important to your character design. Then another little lesson on coloring using the triadic color method, which is how I do any of my coloring. When we come out at the other end of the class, you'll have a nice finished illustration of a character in motion. But even more important than that, you'll have a better understanding of how to pose and design a character that can move in a variety of ways and express a variety of emotions and be used for all kinds of projects like comics, storytelling or just a simple spot illustration for a book or a magazine. All right. Let's get started. 3. Examples and Inspirations: This class is all about characters in motion. When I'm drawing a character, I'm thinking of how am I bringing them to life, and a character that's just standing still doesn't really convey anything to the reader. The theme of this class is characters in motion. If a character is in motion, it's usually because they're motivated by some aspect of a story you're trying to tell, even if it's just a one image illustration, there's still like a story behind that drawing. I'm going to show you some examples from my work of characters in motion and what that means for the story I'm trying to tell. Here's an example from my book, The Aquarium Drift, which is about sailors going to the edge of the world in search of a giant sea serpent, pirate tail. Just from looking at this image, you can get a sense of their relationship. We have Anna here on the left. She's got her back arched. She's lifting Jack up off the ground. She's balancing her weight and supporting his weight. Jack is succumbing to her frustration with him in this scene. As Tang is poking out, his back is curved, his arms are just shooting out. He has no real control in this moment. Without reading any of this text, you can get a really good idea of the story moment we're looking at here. That's how a lot of popular children's books work. That's how you draw in a reader by catching their attention with an image that conveys a story point. For me, the pose of the character says a lot about the story you're trying to tell. Well, let's look at some more examples here. A pretty common pose to use for a character would be a walking pose. So we see this character striding forward. It's a really exaggerated walk. The character's legs are really stretched out. Their arms are stretched out, their back is arched. This character is really dominating this landscape, or even looking up at them at a bit of an angle. You can see their sense of power and the way the physics of the world work. You get a lot of clues to what this character is like based on the way their body is posed. I do a lot of illustration for a young audience. Exaggeration in pose and action shots is really important to connecting and engaging with the young reader. On a page like this, you have characters walking in a similar way. Legs really outstretched, but arms in different poses just to create some variety. We can see here these characters are walking, but they're also interacting with each other. While there are some fundamental poses we can use for a character, it's always more interesting to find unique ways of letting a character express themselves. It reveals a bit more of a personality and feels like you're connecting with them in their own space, in their own world. I like to challenge myself with posing characters and a lot of that comes from drawing and redrawing. Like I'm particularly proud of poses like this one here, for example, where we have this character's back really arched and her body balanced over this leg. This might have been something that took me three or four tries to draw before I got it exactly right. A pose is a fun challenge to set for yourself when you're designing a character. Let's look at some references of comics and book arts that for me growing up really left an impression. We'll start at the beginning here with something like Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin and Hobbes is probably one of my earliest reading experiences. A lot of that comes from the comics that were silent. Here's a great Calvin and Hobbes strep where we see Calvin just struggling through the morning routine of getting up and getting ready for school. Now, he's dashing out the door, we see the motion blur in his legs, he screeches to a stop, but he forgot his lunch bag. So now he jumps into action and he's running back, can find the bag. Here it is, here comes the school bus, he's arguing, now is it's school. Bill Waterson draws Calvin in motion. He's a little kid. He's got a lot of energy. You can see his body is like suspended up off the ground. A character in motion is really going to draw you in to the story, whether it's a one story image or a comic or illustrated picture book. Characters in action are engaging because they evoke your curiosity. They make you want to know more about what's going on with them. Superhero comics are a good point of reference for characters in motion. Spiderman is so appealing because his body moves in really unique ways. You can open any Spiderman comics to any page and find some really interesting poses that are always, often jumping out the framing, you hear Spiderman and a classic Spiderman pose, straight-out legs bent up, arms outstretched. Spiderman is able to bend in all different directions. That's what makes him so compelling to watch. It's how he interacts with his space. It's not realistic, but it makes you feel like it's real for the world he's in by keeping proportions human-like, showing muscle structure. Now, one of the most important comics to me is Bone by Jeff Smith. A lot of my style comes from reading Bone a lot during my childhood. Something that's really interesting with Bone regarding character posing is, the story has a really interesting juxtaposition of an extremely cartoony character. This is Fone Bone here on the left, and a more human character, this is Thorn. Fone Bone reads like 1930s Disney, or Walt Kelly style, rubbery hose type of cartoon character. Thorn is slightly more realistic. She's more of human proportion, and she has a more human-like design. When these characters move, they engage with the world in different ways. Here, it's storming out. We see Fone Bone and Thorn running through the storm. Bone, because he's so much more cartoony than Thorn bends in really exaggerated ways. Here, he's dashing across the land. He's suspended in the air, his legs are extremely outstretched. When Thorn runs, its more subtle, it's more human. You get a better sense of her body responding to the physics of the world. For example, in this panel here where they're crouched down reacting to this thunderclap, you see Thorn in a pose that you could emulate if you wanted to. You could take a picture of yourself in this pose. But the way Bone is posed, it's too exaggerated to be something you could do. He represents a higher exaggerated emotional state for the story. Like his body isn't really responding to the gravity of this world. He's kind of suspended in the air. You can see the stress of him though, and he is a character you can empathize with, but he's not as realistic as thorn. This book really made me think of when you design a character, you're also taking into account the physics of the world and how that affects how they walk, and how they run, and how they stand. You can do a lot with the posing of characters in terms of storytelling. Like in a book of Where the Wild Things Are, these big, iconic pages of characters in motion. Here we have some characters moving through the stages of a walk cycle meaning different poses of walking with lifting their legs and moving their arms to balance themselves out. The poses of the characters represents the energy of youth. This kind of primal feeling. Without even reading the text, you can get a sense of what the story is that's being told. A big part of drawing a character is figuring out how to show instead of tell with the design of their pose. If these characters were just standing still, this page would be a lot less engaging. Characters in motion, a little off balance, mid-movement are always a lot more interesting. 4. Warming Up (for Illustrators): Let's start with some warm-up exercises. We've to get our hand in brain thinking like a Illustrator would. Pick up your pencil, imagine there's a Canvas about three feet in front of your face. Hold it up to the canvas, and instead of moving and small gestures from your wrist, which is probably how you're used to working if you're drawing maybe on a small tablet or you ride on small pieces of paper, let's move from the elbow in bigger form. Let's make a circle that can be seen by somebody who's maybe 100 yards away. Moving from the wrist, going around and around, create a big clear circle. The drawing is just really the evidence of a motion, and the clearer your motions are, the clearer your illustration will be. Think of when you were young and practicing in drawing a circle. You imagine there was like a perfect version of a circle that can be illustrated, and you would try to achieve that circle by moving in little nervous gestures around the form once, just trying to get it right that first time, and even if it resembles a circle, the line itself feels nervous and it reads that way to a viewer. So to become a good illustrator, you have to move confidently, and that means knowing that you're not going to get the line right the first time. If we take this pencil and put it to paper, and we illustrate just a large circle, the way we achieve that form, it's through just a big confident gesture. Somewhere in this sketch is a decent circle, and we can use the same approach of moving from the elbow to create other types of forms. When you're seeing in the illustrators work, you're often seeing the final result. You're seeing the final line work, something that's been fully cleaned up for presentation. That's not the true side of the process. It's like the 10 percent part of the iceberg of the creative process. This is what a sketch looks like that eventually leads to a final illustration. It's loose. It's all about gesture in form, in creating shapes that are fun and appealing. If you can work nice and loose, you're going to be a better illustrator. Let's draw a quick, loose character design here. Just some basic shapes that convey the proportions of a figure. This character is not in motion. This character is flat. They're basically a gingerbread man. It's been laid out on a table. To me, this isn't a character because it doesn't know how to move. It doesn't have that inner structure that is needed to bring a character to life. This lesson is all about understanding that inner structure, that framework of a character design that lets you put them in all kinds of different poses that represent personality, emotional states, and action. In the next chapter, we're going to look at the framework needed to put a character into motion. 5. Framing and Articulation: Behind any strong character design is a framework for movement. So it's an articulated stick figure. When we think of a stick figure, we think of something like this. This stick figure doesn't really lend itself to motion because it doesn't have some of the fundamental parts of the human form that allow for a character to move and express themselves with their body language. It does not have shoulders or hips. If you're designing a stick figure to be the foundation of a character design, you just have to add a couple extra elements that lend itself to motion. So shoulders and hips, like so. These are basic human proportions, and now we have some articulation points that can be moved. So there is a basic human form in proportion. Now, there's a couple of things you need to keep track of when you're designing a character's pose, some real fundamental parts, and it's not about looking at the details at this stage. We're not worrying about the pose of the arms, the look on the face, where the feet are, making sure the lengths are right. We're just looking at this single line of fundamental motion and we often call this the action line. It's basically like the spine of the character. So if you want to create something in an emotional pose, so let's say like happy, we can create a line bends like this. Imagine that's like this. Let's look at how we can use the action line to represent the fundamental part of the character pose. Think of it almost like an exclamation point or like the stem of a flower. Here's a flower leaning up, the action line is not perfectly straight it leans the direction, if we bend that action line over, suddenly the character seems more way down. So this is a sadder action line than this. This line is the spine of the character. So if we draw this character and fill this line in with a figure, and we follow the rules of that action line, we can keep track of the emotional state of the character. When you set out to pose a character, you want to use this little structure of a skeleton here, to settle on the details of the pose. Without adding any detail, I take a minute to assess the proportions of the figure, make some little changes, maybe bend things a bit, and once I'm happy with the pose, then I start filling the form out and turning the character into more of a silhouette of their final form. The stick figure framework of a character serves a lot of purposes when designing a character in motion. For one, it's helping you keep track of proportion, but it's also saving you some time in the long run. Use the sketch of the frame to define the pose before you draw anything else. You also want to keep in mind the way the pose occupies a space. So this character is in an exaggerated action pose. Look at the negative space around its limbs. Even from a distance it's clear the pose the character is in. They're facing straight on, there's a lot of space between the limbs, it reads really clearly. When you're sketching the frame of your character, make sure there's plenty of space and not a lot of overlapping of elements because that can muddy up a design. 6. Selecting a Pose: When looking for a pose, we want to pick something that reads really clearly to the viewer. Something that has plenty of space in the design, so it can be easily translated by anyone looking at it. We're going to pick a pose from what's called the walk cycle of a character. If you're into animation at all, you might know what a walk cycle is. Basically it's a series of poses that represents all the stages of a character moving through the motions of walking. You've got various points of contact with the feet. You have shifts in balance as the character moves forward and the way is adjusted. You have the bending of the legs, the tilt of the body, and even subtle details like the reaction of the hair as the character moves. In animation, you would have to draw all these illustrations because they're all part of the walk cycle. But we're just doing an illustration project and we only need to create one drawing, so you have to settle on the perfect pose to represent walking. If we look at these examples, we're seeing some of them read more clearly than others. Like what's the iconic pose here for walking? It's probably not going to be something like say this, this pose doesn't read very well. It's walking, but it's not really clear walking. I would move towards the middle here and look at something like this. This pose has good balance. It's got clearly extended limbs, a nice appealing arch for the body, and both legs planted on the ground. This is the most obvious pose to describe walking. You have a couple of variations here that could also work. This one's pretty good. We have this foot firmly planted on the ground. This one works pretty well. It feels a little more confident. 7. Sketching the Character: For the sketching part, I'm going to use two different colored pencils, just so it's more clear for the class. I'm going to use this light blue for the first draft of the sketch, and then I'm going to go over with some red, when I start to build on the design and add some more details. We start with the action line, the curve of the spine. This character is going to need to feel pretty well balanced over both its legs. I start by establishing where the head of the figure is, shoulders and hips and I start with the legs. I'm going to put the right leg going forward. Give it a little bit of a curve, but keep it mostly straight, so I can keep the proportions right, and the left leg gets bent back like this. You can tell when a character is balanced by the position of their head over the ground. If we draw a little line here where the ground is, and we've put our pencil right here. You can see the head is right between the two legs, which means it's balanced. If you look at the reference here for the walk cycle, you can see that character poses where the head is totally balanced over the legs. Read more clearly as walking. When a character is off-balance, when they're beneath or between motions. Like here, the character is shifting its weight forward and again here. Those poses feel a little more awkward. They're not as iconic, because those are the between motions of the walk cycle. Characters tend to hold their pose when all their weight is planted on one foot, so that's why we use poses like this. Let's do the arm. This is the right leg. If the right leg is forward, then the right arm, it's back. I could come right out from the shoulder but I find it looks better if you arch the arm up a little bit, to make the articulation clear. This character has got a pretty confident walk, and so arm, left arm. This. Now I'm going to just mark the articulation points, because that helps me keep track of the proportion of the body. Before I get into any more details, I may want to do what's called pushing the pose. That's a phrase using cartooning which means to establish, a reality of the character's pose but then push it a little beyond to the point where it just reads even more clearly. What I mean by that is, having the character lean into the walk cycle a little bit more. Maybe I start to stretch these legs just a little and bend them out a bit. I start to maybe curve the bones of the character a little more. This gives the drawing more energy, but at the same time pushes it away from reality a little. Like if I kept stretching this, like if I put the leg way out and brought that like way back and the character is floating in the air and the arms are way out. That pose becomes extremely cartoonish, and if you break the rules of the world too much, the character becomes unreliable. You want the character to have weight, feel like it's interacting with its environment so pushing oppose can go too far. Just a little exaggeration can be good. I'm pretty happy with this framework. Now I'm going to start to fill out the character by adding shapes and forms of the body. Some pretty common shapes to use for the torso would be a rectangle. Pretty rigid, formless. You could turn that into an oval, if you want it to be softer, more friendly. A pretty common torso type established by the animators of the '30's like Disney and Fleisher Studios, is the pear shape, which is basically a circle with a smaller circle on top. You can invert that. Put the bigger shape on top and smaller one on the bottom. If you go further with this, you can start adding muscles, a bit more detail to the anatomy. All those options are there. But for cartooning, simpler is better. As long as it's clear and representative. I'm going to go with something like the pear shape. We have to bend the pear shape form to the arc of the action line here. I establish the base of the pair right at the hips, and then I'm curving the circle on the top and bringing it together into one appealing shape. As I sketch, I look at every shape I make and I assess its appeal. This has a nice curve and I'm going to bring that curve to all the other sections of the body. Now I'm filling out the character and defining its body type. Giving weight to it. Ovals are the shapes I tend to work with. At this point, the character is moving away from that flat space into a more 3-D rounded realm. That means we have to understand the angle this character is being viewed at. We're going with a three-quarter turn here. If you remember back to like your fifth grade class photo, you would sit down on the stool and the photographer would say, "look over here" and you would turn away from the lens, which seems like where you should be looking and look to where they are and then they snap their photo like that. The three-quarter turned reads more clearly, you get more visual information of a subject. In cartooning, it's the most common way to see a character posed. This character is not in profile, and it's not looking straight on. If we're going to put a nose on the character and show which direction they're looking. We're going to put it inside the face like this. If we just put two little dots for the eyes there, we can see the face. 8. Adding Details: So I'm actually going to switch to my other pencil as we bring more detail to this sketch so you can understand how clothing fits on this form. I'm going to keep it really basic, let's just put a T-shirt and some shorts on this character. The lines of the clothing are how you establish the roundness of the figure, so fill out the neck a bit and draw a little curve with the color of the shirt would be. I'm going to do the right arm first, bend it up, put a little curve where the sleeve is and bring this around. For the hand I'm just going to add a big round circle for now and another circle where the thumb would be. Now on the other arm, this is an opportunity to really enforce this three-quarter turn by showing the overlapping of the body so the chest hooks out and the arm is tucked behind. This creates the illusion of overlapping or the illusion of roundness and form so overlapping is really useful for that. Again, we put a round shape there at the thumb circle, make sure you keep emphasizing these curves, this is again, the appeal of the design. When you're looking at a drawing, your eye follows the forms and translates them in your brain so give the viewer something interesting to look at. Exaggerated curves are more fun to look at adding some shapes for the feet for now, make sure we establish where the heel is touching the ground here. Again, all of these lines can be modified to your heart's content at this stage. You don't have a whole lot of finished lines going on here so let's say we want some more definition in the legs so let's give maybe this character some tall running socks. Here we go, so we're going to bring just a bit of detail to the face. I have a whole lesson on face designs so we're just going to keep it really simple for this and the face is fairly small on the head this is where the brain goes. Shape for the ear back here and then a little bit of overlap for the jaw. I'm going to bring the jaw line out a bit, this is where the jaw of the character would be and come in and bring it up for the shape of the head. It's going to put a design, I'm going put a cat head on the shirt and maybe it's a humid day. This character's hair is fluffing out. There you go, so your sketch should finalize the form of the character, the proportions, the body type, and some little personality traits. Once you have a confidence sketch like this no matter how messy it is, you can ink on top of it which is what we're doing next. 9. Inking the Character: Let's take a look at some options for inking. Talk about this one in a second. Here are some really basic tools for inking. Felt tip markers. These are micron brand markers. They come in different sizes, so there's a size one, a three, a five and an eight. These are waterproof archival inks, which means you can paint over top of them and they don't fade, they're very fine. They have a really consistent weight. So here's an example of a one compared to a three. When you ink with a micron, you get a readily even shape which allows for lines being put really close together. You can do a lot of detail work. Like I could make tiny eyeglasses on this strange pair, and I could even shrink it way down and do tiny pupils, like this. If you're someone who likes to draw lots of small details, you probably want to have some microns on hand. These are also good tools for hatching, just a shading technique, but they don't respond to the pressure of your hand. So when I'm inking, I use a slightly more advanced tool, advanced in that you need just a little more control over your hand when you're working on it. I use a calligraphy nib. So the calligraphy nib is, a metal point that sits in this cork handle. So you can replace these, they're very cheap and they sit right in this handle like that. You can see I've had this handle for a long time, about you know 500 pages worth of art in this handle. When you push the nib down on paper, it opens up like this and spreads the ink in a wider line. So you can make more dynamic forms in your line art with a pen like this. But working with a tool like this requires certain techniques. Like you can't push away with this sort of pen. You have to move towards yourself and you have to constantly be dipping it in ink to keep the flow of the line. I'm going to work with the calligraphy nib because that's where I'm most comfortable. You can work with felt tip pen. You could work with a Sharpie marker. You could, be working in procreate and use any brush type you want. It doesn't really matter how you ink. It matters how you think about your inking. I'm working with some Windsor and Newton black India ink. There's a lot of different types of inks and there's lots of cool classes out there for inking technique. Why do I work with Windsor and Newton ink? Because it's really thick and glossy and it sits really well on this watercolor paper. So I'm going to set up my ink here, and I've got my illustration. I'm just going to work from the top down. Everybody's style has a little bit of error to it. That's what makes it unique and personal. You just have to embrace a bit of mistake in your final art, but if you want to work confidently with your inking especially, make sure you're allowing yourself freedom of movement with your paper and your body. I'm not going to just put this piece of paper right here straight in front of my face and hope I can make the perfect gesture with the line every time. I'm going to turn the paper and I'm going to ink where my hand is comfortable. Any digital drawing program these days lets you turn the paper in the frame so you don't always have to turn your tool or your tablet. You can adjust the paper inside, but odds are, you're more comfortable with the paper at a bit of an angle, so make sure you're allowing yourself some freedom of movement when you're doing these final lines. As I ink I'm still looking for opportunities to enhance this design, so I'm not tracing any of these lines, I'm building on them. I'm thinking of the forward motion of the character, and right now the fabric is kind of painted on the body. So I'm going to take this opportunity to give the layers of fabric on the body their own separate form. You'll see what I mean as I go here. We'll start with something like this, start with this back shoulder and come up and over, and I'm going to make the fabric float in the air a bit. Bring that alive, that arm around. As I get to the hand, I'm going to keep it pretty simple. I'm going to show the form of the thumb, index finger, and bend back in like that. You can see my inking style with this tool. It's a little wobbly. I guess that comes from reading a lot of Charlie Brown Peanuts comics as a kid, Charles Schulz has a real kind of nervous energy in his inking style, which makes it so distinct, even though it's not technically the best way to ink, it's the best way for him to ink his stories. The important part for me is getting these big curves right. With a tool like this, you don't really want to go over a line more than once because you lose the gracefulness of the gesture. Like you can see where I touched it up here, it kind of widens a bit and shrinks back down. No one will notice in the final version, but I'll notice, so you'll see me try and create single lines along the way here. Here's a good opportunity to show the fabric, catching the breeze and making these, let's make them shorts. Make him come in a little bit here. Here's a space where I forgot to sketch. That's okay. I'm going to just draw some short lines in, I finish this leg here before I move on to the other leg. Okay good. All right, let's add some more detail to the socks, I'm going to do horizontal stripes, capturing that curve established at the top of the sock. Let's put a little circle on the high top. Now, with the back leg, I don't have to add, if I don't want to, as much detail because it's a little bit more out of focus in the final image. The foreground leg here is doing a lot of the work to helping you understand the pose of the character, the back leg isn't doing as much, so actually go a little faster and simplify the look of it. Make it a little looser, almost abstract, because then it just doesn't draw your attention as much as the foreground leg, so for these stripes, I'm just going to draw them in quick. Now it makes that leg feel like it's at a bit of a distance. You can see some of the imperfections here like this little gap in the line or that little chunk. That's just part of the style that's come about through, a mix of practice and laziness. Okay, so the other arm here, slightly simpler because it's in the background, and we've got a little sweat band on the wrist, which helps reinforce the form of the arm. More stripes on it like that. This hand is in a pose like this, so I'm going to put the thumb overlapping the fingers just a little, keep it simple. Let's do some neck lines. Now, let's do the head. I'm going to make the hair blowing back in the wind just a bit because it'll help with the forward momentum of the character. So the waviness is going to be more on the back than on the front. It's catching the breeze a little, and I'm going to stretch the ear out a bit, and I'm going to point the nose forward like so. Again, the angle of the nose is really important to show in the direction of the head. Especially if you have a really simple face design style. If I wanted to just put little circles for eyes like this, with just a couple eyebrows and aligned for the mouth, the nose goes a long way to helping understand the angle of the face. Just for some appeal, let's do a nice big smiley mouth line. Notice it's right below the nose that outline there was a little lower than it needed to be on the chin. Now, I'm going to go through and add a couple more extra lines, places that I missed, like the rings on the shirt. Let's put a stripe up the legs of the pants to help reinforce that curve there, and let's put the design on the T-shirt. Here's a little trick I use, sometimes I actually flip the nib backwards and use the sharp side for really small detailed work. Switch up the design of this cat a little bit. Okay, and there is an inked character. 10. Choosing Colors: All right, I'm going do a little crash course on coloring with paints. Between chapters, I did another paint version of a character, just so you can see the difference of the tools. I know not everybody is comfortable with the nib. It's a tool that you can get it simulated on a tablet, but not a lot of people work with this traditional tool anymore. We have the nib version, but I also did a quick version with just a cheap sharpie and a micron. This is $3 worth of pens in my hand. You probably have a sharpie sitting around your house, so don't let a lack of tools get in your way. Here's a paint version of a character. It's got its own charm to it. The lines feel pretty different than the nipped version, but I don't know, some of you might like this one better. Who knows? I'm actually going to paint this version. I'm going work with watercolor. But again, you can use any coloring tool you want, coloring pencils, a tablet, crayons. This little lesson on color is a bit more just about color theory than the actual tools being used. Here's a color wheel. When I plan my colors, I like to keep them focused and simple. I use this basic rule of the triadic coloring method. Which just means to start with a main color. Let's say for example, I pick violet. Then we look at the complement, in this case it's yellow, straight across the color wheel like this. Then the triadic part is when you add a third color, that's just a degree away from the secondary color. I can either go to a yellowish orangey color, or I could go over here to a bluish green and that creates that little triangle. You have a nice high contrast palette based on these three colors, and of course, I can vary to whatever else I want, depending on the style or the amount of different elements I have to color. But if you base it around these three main colors, you're going to have a nice, strong, high contrast, bold color scheme. I'll just go with those actual ones. I'll use a violet as my main color, a yellow and then a greenish yellow. I've got some different paints over here. One of my favorite paints as these Dr Ph. Martin's radiant concentrated watercolors. They're very vibrant, and they come in these little chemistry set jars like this. They're not too much different than just using even a student level watercolors set. If that's what you've got on hand, you can use it, or again, any coloring tool you want. But I'm going to use the Ph Martin's because they're my favorite. We're going to get out a violet, orangey, yellow, and green. Those are my three colors because I'm using [inaudible]. 11. Pushing a Pose: All right, so at this point we've got two characters in motion. They're both in a similar running pose. Let's say for your class project, you want a little more variation in the design. Maybe you have a different body type in mind, or a different pose or a different energy level you want to work at. I'm going to do some quick sketches in different variations of character type and hopefully that'll inspire you and help you design your own character in motion. Let's try a character that's a little more determined than that last version. For the main action line, I'm going to actually have them lean further into the pose. I'm going to curve this line way over, and I'm actually going to start to bend it over and up a bit. It's not just one continuous arch, it's a little more complicated. The shoulders are almost going to be, we'll try straight across like this. Hips. I'm going to stretch the head forward like that. Points of articulation for the arms. This one's almost going to be a little more graphical. You can see when I'm sketching at these early stages, I'm really thinking about these negative spaces that get created like the distance between the nose and the hand and what it creates here. It has a subtle effect on how the viewer is interpreting the drawing. The legs are going to be really outstretched, and the feet are going to be pointed a bit more. This character is going to have a heavier or a thicker chest and smaller hips. I'm going to create a shape here that's a little smaller as a point of reference and a bigger shape up here just to guide the form as I fill it out further. Let's keep the long legs, maybe even stretch them a little further. Notice this character instead of being restrained to more of a square shape like the previous design, which was more like this. Like that. This one's stretched out more like this. Which just has a bit more forward momentum. Now I'm going to take the red and push this a little further. Now all the shapes I'm going to add to this are going to enforce this design of this collapsed angled trapezoid. Let's maybe try a pointier color. A pointier face. We'll add a little bit of motion to the hair. Maybe less flow in the fabric. More streamlined character. Smaller, maybe even sharper angles on the limbs. Less weight. You could almost see this character being caught in a breeze. You can see this character has got a pretty different physical presence to this character, even though they're technically in the same position. This character is moving really quick, so let's try the opposite. Let's do a character that's more exhausted. Cartoons can feel heavy as much as they can feel light in area. It's just a matter of how you pose the character's body. Instead of working from a pose where the weight is evenly distributed, let's get the character leaning forward a bit like they're almost toppling over. They can't hold their weight because they're so tired. Let's figure out where the head's going to be. Let's actually lower the head a bit. See how with the sketching, you can just simply move things around. I try not to erase too much so I don't get caught up in mistakes. I just shift forms around till I'm happy. If I got to start over, I might do that, but just keep drawing over drawings. Bent leg and then legs flat on the ground, but move it back a bit so the line of balance is off center. Now this character can hopefully feel heavier. Let's make the arms hang down a bit. To clarify the pose I still want to be able to see both limbs. This one is hanging straight down forward and this one's hanging back just enough so it's popping out behind it. Ideally, I'd be able to put it right here. Maybe that would be a little more realistic, but for the clarity of the drawing, you want to shift the pose so it's clear to the viewer. We're going to round down these shoulders. When you're exhausted and did a low-energy state, your shoulders are going to slump a little bit. All the weight is on this one foot, so it's really important to see and understand how it's interacting with the ground. This leg is back and up. Let's make the feet bigger. This character is going to be more bottom heavy. It's almost like it's in this like off-center triangle, like this. Still needs to be looking forward a little bit. I don't want the character to be looking straight down. I still want them looking forward. They're still moving ahead, they're just going at a slower pace. We're going to do a rounder nose, put it here. We'll droop the eyes and the mouth a bit. Maybe we'll do some long here to create some more downward motion. This pose actually might look good in total profile. Droopy hands instead of around fist. Do longer hands. Switch over to the red for this secondary sketch. Hairlines down, face down, shoulder forward. Remember that again, the character is leaning forward, so the arm is going to lean forward a bit like this. The fingers back a bit. Then now we can get a nice clean curve on the back. Maybe do some big baggy pants here. Big foot. Then all the weight on this one leg. Then just draw this arm on the back. There we go. Now we've got a couple of variations of the walk cycle that better reflect the character's personality. A character in motion is always going to evoke a certain mood or sense of appeal. The body language of a character goes a long way to explaining what they represent in a story or just in a simple illustration. Creating strong action poses for your characters is a great way to tell the viewer who they are. That about does it for this lesson on Characters in Motion, so let's wrap it up. 12. Class Project: Sketching: Let's hop right into the class project together. You're welcome to work along with me or you can watch and go through the steps on your own. I've tried to take the things I've talked about over the last hour and break them down into some very simple steps, so you can create a class project in about 20 minutes or so. I'm summarizing the process of creating a character in a running pose into four basic conceptual steps. We begin with something I'm calling 14 points of articulation. These are the 14 places on the figure where you have an opportunity to show motion. You've got the neck, the shoulders, the elbows, the wrists, the hips, the knees, and the ankles. These are all the main spots where you can bend and form your character into a billion combinations of poses. Forgetting any of these points of articulation might leave your character looking a little stiff. Now let's look at posing. I call this step silhouette posing. Once we sketch out the frame of the figure, considering the 14 points of articulation here, we try to assess the character's balance using the action line of the spine and the placement of the arms, and we can show propulsion of the character through the way we pose the legs. You can see there's almost a sense of symmetry here with how we balanced the arms and the legs. They reflect each other in their angles and curves. This dotted line represents the position of the head over the legs. It's pretty well balanced, but the character's leaning just a little forward. that's a pretty good running pose, but to understand if it's speaking clearly to the viewer, I like to break it down into a silhouette. I take some really simple forms and I just block out the body in a two-dimensional space. If the body reads well in silhouette, I know I've created a successful pose. Another great way to assess your pose is to shrink it way down and see if it still reads clearly at something like the size of a postage stamp. If the pose isn't clear on first glance, you may want to reassess the position of the body parts and the way you're using the points of articulation. Now let's take that frame and create some primary forms. Form in the context of illustration, is using shapes to create something that's more than the sum of its parts and to create the illusion that something is existing in an imaginary space. Here are some basic forms, a orb and a cylinder. By using curved lines on these surfaces we convey form. Now when designing the form of a character, we want to take some basic shapes and unite them to create a character that seems to exist in a space. Using my frame as a reference, I'm building out the characters using stretched ovals. Now let me break apart those shapes. Every cartoonist and illustrator has their own style of shape they use when designing a character. Here's a look at mine when you separate them. Now that we have the primary form of the character established, we can add secondary forms. This second stage of adding forms to the character design is a way to emphasize the pose, push the pose, as I mentioned earlier, and to evoke a personality in the character. Let's take a look at some of the references I gathered to help create a personality for the character. I use Pinterest to gather my references. Here's a simple board I made of '70s workout and running and athletic fashion. I'm going to choose some fashion that appeals to me and also works well to give the character a sense of motion. I like the track suit jacket with the shorts combo, so let's use that. Secondary forms can be as advanced or as simple as you want. You could look more closely at anatomy and wrinkle in clothing if you want to make something slightly more realistic. My cartooning style works best when the lines are simple and graceful and playful and clear. I'm using the shapes of the track suit to enhance the sense of motion in the character. There's a bit of flow and exaggeration in the curves. I'm also able to do a little overlapping with the elastic sections of the track suit, and for me, the collar adds a nice bit of appeal to the area around the head. I'm using the stripe on the side of the shorts to emphasize the angle of the legs, and to give some form to the legs, I can use tall socks. Notice the seam and the stripes on the socks are a bit similar to the curves on the cylinder we looked at in the primary form section. I'm also going to use the laces on the shoes to add a sense of motion. Instead of using cartoony comic style action lines, I can use the laces to be motion lines. Now I add some details to the face, making sure the nose is pointing the direction the character is moving and stretching the hair back a little bit to give more of a sense of forward propulsion. Now I double check my final sketch to make sure it's still conveying the sense of balance and propulsion that I established earlier during the framing of the character. When I'm happy with it, I can move on to the final art. 13. Class Project: Final Art: For my final illustration, I'm going to be working in a program that I'm most comfortable with. It's called Clip Studio Paint. It's less popular drawing application, but the base tools are very similar to ones you'll find in procreate or Adobe Photoshop. For the sake of this project, I'm not going to really share any tips and techniques about doing fancy illustrations in this software. Because I want this class to be accessible by people working with traditional tools like I did earlier in the class, and people with just a base understanding of illustration software. You should be able to follow along. I'm going to leave my layer tab open here on the right so you can see how I arrange my layers. Again, layering works the same with this program as it does in many other drawing programs. Let's get started. I'm going to start by setting my sketch layer to about 50 percent so I can see my line art clearly on top, and I'm going to create a new layer for my inking. I do my best work when I'm trying to recreate the experience of working with a traditional tool. For me, that's the Calligraphy nib, which as I mentioned earlier in the class, responds to the weight that you put on the brush tip. I've selected just a really basic cartooning Pen tool that you'll find in any of your drawing programs. But if I set the line thickness to too thin, I don't get any weight variation when I press down and draw a line. I'm going to make the tool a lot fatter, so when I draw my line and press harder down the length of the line, I get some variation in weight. I'm much more personality that line has on the right than the line on the left. It's perfect for my drawing style. To test your Pen tool, you'll want to draw a bunch of straight lines like this to get the perfect pressure and line weight for your drawing technique. When I start inking, I usually start with the face because I like to be able to look at my character as I design the rest of their body. I make sure the nose is pointing the right direction, I give the eyes a bit of personality and then I move on to the other aspects of the body. You'll notice as I ink, I tried to be graceful with my lines. Pick up my pen as little as possible, and also you can see I adjust the direction I draw a line depending on the look I want for it. One of the benefits of drawing digitally is I can try out a couple different line styles before I settle on one. There's a lot of me undoing and redoing line work in my process. I really need my curves to have a nice smooth appear to them, so I always focus on exaggerating the curves and the angles within the line. Cartooning works best when there's a nice graceful roundness to the line art. I try not to add too much texture or evoke shadow with my line art because it's very easy to muddy up in illustration, especially when it's a simple character design where the line art is so close together already. We can deal with shadows and textures in the coloring stage. Now, to add the laces, I'm going to draw them on a separate layer because I need them to overlap the legs. But I didn't want to interrupt the flow of the line in the leg to stop and draw the lace because that would break the flow of that nice curve in shin line. I make a new layer. I draw the laces on there, and then I go back to the other layer where the rest of the line art is, and I just erased the bits that would be behind the shoelace. Now I've got a nice overlap for the shoelace. Next, let's do some really basic coloring. I'm going to be following the triadic color method again like I did earlier, and I'm going to start with a soft blue like we saw in the reference photo. Now a great compliment to blue is yellow, so we'll make the shoes yellow. To establish that triadic fill, I'll jump over here a bit and make the socks reddish. I'm going to keep the color schemes simple. Instead of adding another color to the blue, I'm just going to darken the blue at some black and do the details like that. Let's go with more of a human skin tone. No matter what the skin tone of your character, make sure their skin isn't too cool. You always want to lean more towards the orange, redness if you get too far away from their body of your character's going to feel cold and dead. A simple way to add shadow to your character is to make a new layer and calling it shadow and adjust the layer settings to color burn, I'm going to reduce the opacity of the layer to 25 percent and get a purple to be my shadow. Now I can draw shadows on top of all the base colors of this illustration. They'll give a nice shadowy effect without having to change the shadow color. It works on the skin tones as well as the fabrics of the clothing. Without illustrating a whole scene around the character, I'm just going to hint at the environment with a couple basic shapes and colors. Running poses and cartooning look better when the characters are suspended in the air, so we're going to use this shadowy shape to show the ground below the character which is a grassy field. I'm going to put some clouds in the sky. This helps make the character feel like they're more in the foreground. By adding a couple simple background elements, you can do the same and your design and maybe change this setting of it. Like for example, you could do a desert scene or a city scape or make it raining. My scene is set on a very sunny day, but instead of drawing the sun in the sky, I'm going to make a new layer and I'm going to grab a really light yellow and use it as a highlight across the colors on the jacket and the grass on the clouds. I try not to add too much highlight to the hair or the skin of the character because it starts to make them look a little plasticish. There you have it a person in motion ready to upload to the class project section. Feel free to bring more detail to the world of your character or keep it as simple as this. Like I said, this class project could be done in about 20 minutes. In fact, if you can challenge yourself to work faster, cartooning always looks great. If you can move quickly and keep things simple. Let's wrap this thing up. 14. Wrap It Up!: I hope you enjoyed this class on characters in motion. If you liked this lesson and my teaching style, well there's some good news for you, I have a Skillshare channel with over 12 different lessons in drawing for narrative art, which includes books, comics, or just spot illustration. More lessons on concept art, designing worlds, putting your imagination to use, drawing maps, more cartooning basics, the fundamentals of comic art, and even some classes on creature design. Once you finish your drawing of your character in motion, it'd be awesome if you shared it in the class project section of this class. That way other students can see you participating, and I think overall it enriches the field of the class to see work by other students. You can follow me on Instagram. I've got a Patreon where I'm sharing some behind the scenes content of upcoming books, and if you want to read any of my work, you can go to where most of my previous projects are available, videos and books and stories and all kinds of fun stuff. That's it for now. I'll see you next time.