Character Illustration for Beginners | Adam Record | Skillshare

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Character Illustration for Beginners

teacher avatar Adam Record, Children's Book Illustrator & Designer

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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.

      Finding Inspiration


    • 2.



    • 3.

      Digitizing your sketch


    • 4.

      Lumberjack Guy Texture Shading


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About This Class

In my class I will show you my process of creating a new character from scratch using digital tools (Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop). I will talk about finding inspiration and implementing that into your character illustration and then on to digitizing your character sketches and texturing and shading them to give them some life.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Adam Record

Children's Book Illustrator & Designer


Hi I'm Adam.....hello :) I'm an illustrator and designer from Utah. I love to draw and design and I've been blessed to be able to do it fo a living for a numbe of years now. I have worked with many great clients such as Scholastic, Harper Collins, Hallmark, Disney, Fisher Price, and many more great folks.

I started doodling on a padded bench in church. I liked saturday morning cartoons and cereal with marshmallows in it. I played with GI Joes and watched WWF wrestling with my brothers and I was outside most of my life.

I started getting serious about drawing when someone actaully bought one of my drawings, and I thought....that's cool...other people might actually like my stuff. So I continued to draw and paint and doodle and here I am now with my own website and a Skills... See full profile

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1. Finding Inspiration: okay, in this section, I want to be talking with you about finding inspiration. Um, I think when it comes to creating a unique and original character design, I think just the way the world is you will find inspiration. Multiple sources, I think for me, I found anything from other illustrations, Uh, photos, Even people that I've met or no, um, I referenced a lot of people from my childhood. People that have known that have made some kind of visual impact on me. So finding inspiration, I think, is ah, good part of creating a new character. Sometimes it's possible just to pull it out of thin air. But either consciously or subconsciously, you're gonna You're gonna reference things you've seen in your past. It's difficult, if not impossible, to create something unique of from scratch. Um, everything on some level has been done before, but I think as creative people, our challenge is to try to find something new out of something that's been done. And to give it around, you'd expect so, uh, have a couple methods that I use when I come looking for inspiration, uh, to go toe Pinterest or even dribble. Sometimes I've collected a handful of images on Pinterest over the years that I have that have kind of instinctively inspired me. And so I'll gather them there. And then when it comes time to draw, we'll come in, reference some of these images and see what sticks, Um, for for this particular character, I am gonna be doing this. Lumberjack and I have created a board on Pinterest just dedicated to beards. And I think this is really start to kind of look for inspiration for how the beard Kenly out. Um, that you can see beards come in many shapes and sizes and colors, and I'm not sure what will quite work for me, but, um, I'm really liking this one the way. The way they used lines, Beard like mustache is, um so for me, I think I'm gonna pull from a couple different of these images. See what works for me. I want a long beard on my lumberjack. Um, So what I want what I typically do is I'll go through and, um, find a couple pieces. That, um, kind of appealed to me in the No, um, using on apple using command ships for all screen cap it, uh, throw it on my desktop and I'll end up point that into my drawing. So instead of jumping back and forth between browsers, Aiken, I couldn't use that as a visual reference right there. My, our board. This is nice, too. It's kind of small. I like the way they textured that beard Colors nice. Anyway, so I'll go through a spare You, uh, watching the process. But, um, I'll go through and grab some screen caps and singers that I like that I'll pull in my our board. So as you go through your inspirations, whatever method you use, um, gather them up and create your own little style board for your own trying. Um, that meant may be overkill sometimes, but I think for me, I like to gather much images and just kind of see what fits. So, uh, let's do that. And then, uh, the next step will be talking about actually started the sketching process 2. Sketching: Okay, so let's hear it. Now that you've found your inspiration on, you have a good idea of what you wanna do. Uh, now, stem sketch. So I'm sketching in, um, photo shop. You may want to sketch on paper if you don't have the tools, See a tablet or a laptop tablet or some, um, but whatever your preferred method is, they all work. If you choose to do it on paper, we'll be pulling it into our board, or at least referencing it when we get to the digital digitizing phase. So if you think you want to scan it in and do a full blown like trace of your of your sketch to use or even just use it as a reference it took to you Me, I usually kind of holding side by side what I sketched in what I end up kind of drawing digitally, but sometimes a just just kind of looking at reference it visually, a supposed toe, tracing it. So it just depends or whatever is your preference. And you may work that preference out as time goes on. Um, so sketching, Um, I think it's kind of for me by design sketching is meant to be very unofficial on very loose. And, um uh, not to be stressed about I'm I have a tent cto be really sloppy. My sketching process. Um, and that's by design some. Some people draw really tightened clean. I'm just I just drove lines, and I'm just really sloppy, but it helps me family shapes. So let's see. So I think I'll just start sketching, see what feels right. Um that kind of my head to do a little a little fat, fat guy, little set number checks. Not to worry too much about looking great, but I just want to get the idea. On paper, I think the mark of a true character comes back to shapes. Um, I think you can see like, uh, I don't know, see Mickey Mouse or SpongeBob. Um, I don't know some of these great characters that have become some iconic. You could see a silhouette of of any one of these and immediately know who they are. That's that's by designing. That's part of what makes them a great character. Is there recognizable and so to me, uh, building great shapes is important. You know, there's a guy looks kind of old. Um, fatter trees. My, uh, my sketches rarely and up representing. Well, what my intentions are. Like I said, I'm just trying to get an idea of shape. Is it a walrus? That's not work. Other times I do a second layer floor the body sailor. Good. Epsom these lines to help me get better. I don't know. Uh, he's you scare looks sailors. I want to keep him chubby, so I don't want to dio the skinny head too skinny. He looks stuffing too. Maybe he's like, Remember, check out these getting attitude. Only the Lumberjacks to like because he's gonna stuck up. No, not like that. It is a good old fashioned fat face. Does Santa Lumberjack So far, I'm kind of like in the first guy. Okay, uh, so let's see, what I've done is a duplicate of that later, a little mouse, a stylist situation. So it's tough reporting, and I'm just gonna get rid of these. So the guys, so we'll focus on this guy on it. Here's my space. So let's see, I'm gonna work on the body. My thought was to have a little fat body directing Really Gay arms here. Got a shirt tucked in? No, You just standing there. But that's maybe the shape I like, I think, uh, short, Stubby. Okay. The axe that size So u s boots we'll go through and and, uh, in the next, after we talk about digitizing, we'll be talking about texture, even shading. And I think I work on the plant shirt pattern and, uh, the lines and the intricacies that I don't want to worry about right now. I don't know. I like it. It seems like that number check kind of lumberjack. Um just general shape. I don't know. Some of this may change one second in there, but I feel like the key elements. So that come the fat run body. Let's sticking out of it. This is head sit on top of it to meet What kind of make him him so feeling pretty good about it. I made a turn off the video and sketched more, See if anything else is filling it. Otherwise, I think I might try my hand digitizing. I don't use the spending too much time on the sketching phase. I think I feel most comfortable. Um, developing a character uh, digitally. So, um and we'll work our way to that. Don't forget, this saves you go. If you're using a tablet, forget except got it. So, yeah. So let's let's off. Sit on this for a while. Uh, you be sketching and, uh, working out your character. Then we'll meet back at the next phase, which is digitizing. 3. Digitizing your sketch: Okay, So, uh, now we're on to the digitizing our sketch phase. Um, I've just created a new document and illustrator, uh, 10 by 10. Again, I don't know why, but it seems to be a comfortable space for me. What I'm gonna do is I'm just gonna, uh, create a couple of shapes here. Um, and I'm gonna start working on my color palette little bit. Grab some skin tones on, and some I know I want to do a lot of red and blues. Not purple, though. A couple of variations on these colors. Um, what I've done is I've gone to, um, different artists that I like. And I have, um, screen caps of their work and, in essence, kind of stolen or borrowed some of the color palettes that they use. And so that's where I've gotten this, Uh, Lydian Nichols is one of my favorite, and I took some of her colors and I'm I sometimes trying to use them in different formats. So not steal from her, but just a bar on some of the ideas she has. I don't always do some tweaking just to kind of make sure that it's original and that I'm not ripping her off for anyone else off, but, uh, then here I'm making a second. I try to make each color with its with a secondary companion, the skin tone. I'll create a darker tone as well, just to, um, helping with some of the I guess you'll see in a second some of the shading in the darker lines just knows or the inside of the year. But look into that so you can't see on my screen. But I'm referencing the sketch that I did, um, for our purposes here today. I don't think I would be tracing him. Exactly. I'll just use him as a reference because I don't know home. I don't think I'll stick to him exactly, but let's start with the body. So I'm just using this pen tool and I start with the body and just make a basic shape in the color blue. Give him some roundness, but I wanted to be two square, but I like this world too soon. Legs and feet duplicate this. Um, sure. So what I do here? Actually, some of it copy in a minute pace behind that moved to the top. That I'm gonna change the color, and then I'm gonna do, uh, clipping mask to cut out piece of it. Grab your crap here and you command seven of the Mac. Now I've got the shirt shape and the pants. So that's what I'm pretty good. Let's move on to the head of my skin tone. And he had kind of 20 head. Like what, like digital is because you could mess with size. His head looks a little small right now, but to do the eyes describe the what is the lips toe? It's not a super consistent in my style when it comes to Uh huh eyes and shapeless like that. Do that on purpose, I guess. So. I don't get bored of just one type of I change stroke in depth. That may not work. We'll try to happen. What? This gotta be kind of jelly, but not too much. It's doing no. So I'm just gonna dry. It's a little big look. That's crab read views and again on this coloring will probably change. I'm gonna start here number that this Waris mustache and I'm just guessing. Like I said, I'm not being super accurate to my uh, my sketch gonna use that more of a reference. Bring that nose to the front seconds using him. Do you think stroke with? Yeah, years changing the stroke there. Maybe this Children duplicated. Throw it to the back. That made a difference. Okay, Uh, your little look down here or a chin stroke again. One higher than the other just to make it through, uh, stinking about something. Oops. Move this set. But I work a beard behind. So So I lived in Alaska for a number of years, and, uh, my neighbor was fishermen, and he's pretty much what you'd expect him to be like in a little town in Alaska. We have this amazing Lloris mustache, and, uh, I would come home every day from work and drop the fresh batch of fish. My place they had extra. And this guy I'm drawn here looks a lot like him. So throw that years to the back. My body didn't have a beard that, like, you have a beard. Look into this. So let's throw a little beanie cap on him resting over time. Usually I'll draw something else, sit on it, then I'll come back to the next day, or or later we're in the middle of night and I'll make some tweaks. So, for example, I mean, when I throw a too old old man lines on him just cause he's this guy's obviously been doing this for a month, that primary color, those are some of the details, all just out over time. Um, others would be like, Maybe he's got a shaved side of the head. No distrust circles to indicate stubbly. And these won't really show up well, but give us 10. What kind of hint? So because I'm lazy. Look, um what? I got several room difficult. These transforming reflect, um, it's effective. Just moving is supposed to do them all. You wouldn't see him that much on this side anyway. So maybe that's what kind of like I That looks make sure to save as you go. Um, on a dark in this a little bit. Kind of like in the color that administrative council lines. Yeah, and it's like to kind of draw separation between the front of the cap, but quick, Thes, actually, no, I will take this. Do you copy? And paste behind a little bit? Just darknet to give kind of a this double back, not just remove this. I'm sure there are better ways to utilize Adobe Illustrator's tools in the way that I do. I have some friends who it drives him crazy because I don't use shortcuts as well as I should. There's a shortcut for pretty much everything. Keyboard shortcut, but don't do it. Let's get these up to the land. I'm not gonna fuss about some of these details, right? Number. I think if I was designing for a client, I think I'd be a little more worried about so details. This is just for personal. So this I don't office of even good. I don't think I'll go there. Okay, let's see. So got the head. Um, I'm thinking about a vest on this guy. I don't know what cover matches must grab him. And then, um, scrapping, clicking best and then group them so that I don't to worry about Is this kind of Scottish? Doesn't. Maybe that's the red. Sometimes I'll just do this, grab some of the pieces here. Maybe trying a different hair color. Just see, I think I'm not gonna fess about it right now, but maybe just for sake of keeping the good contrast between my pieces off, Just keep him, Uh uh, this color. So, yeah, let's do most equipped this color for the vest. But it was a line here. Yeah, and then I'm not sure what to do with deserved. At this point, I think maybe we'll grab one of my reds, and I do like, oops. No one, uh, kind of ditched my sketch. And I'm just kind of going on my own. You hear this? Is she probably wearing gloves and the club? Dr. I think it's good to kind of pick a palette and stay with it and reuse colors instead of meat coming up with a whole new color, for example, for the gloves. It's good to use what I've got. I think it helps create some consistency and avoids, I guess. Cluttering colors. What does? Let's see. What's he holding here? Okay, another positive hand here for a second. I'm not sure what to do with it. Let's let's get working on the belt dark in this little bit color in Use it to the belt, A big belt. So let's see. I haven't used any kind of yellow, and I want to put some yellow gold color into it. Think this is a cheat? Remember, it's all about shapes. So I could knock that out that little square out of their using some of the tools and strict provides, but I don't think I want to. So we'll go over the darker in this color again and will provide some with polls. Yeah, sure. Upon Bloom, do the belt loops. And again, just to save time. I'm just gonna couple No, no, no. Right. So we'll go with their darker hue blue. See how this goes. We'll switch it to the stroke. I'm just a job. Okay, lets see boots. Let's do what is this color again? Good. I'm just gonna trace enough kind here. I like the way the foot ship. So what? Tracy and I think before I copy and paste over together foot because they they were pasted . I think I will keep on drawn and finish it so that I can copy and paste the entire piece. Hey, let's get some. Maybe the skin color will make it fun. Maybe he won't have place. See this? Copy these real quick, Well adjusted so they don't look so they don't look copy and pasted. I don't know. So if you become bored watching me draw, I think you can probably fast forward the video until when you can kind of see that I've I've moved on. Next fade, just great in there. That's good. I think I'll stop there with Shoot about two years old carrying this one together. Copy the whole leg over. I could have a little detail on his pants. If I have room here front, have you fitted out a little bit? Changed the with stroke, Just subtle details. I think sometimes there's a guy I'm feeling pretty good about him. 4. Lumberjack Guy Texture Shading: Okay, So now, um, I finished my digital rendition of our lumberjack, and I'm ready to move on to some texture, um, and shading. And I've just created a new Photoshopped document again. 10 inches by 10 inches. And I'm just gonna pace my guy here into me layer, that's what. This science that other having be bigger than smaller Second, always make them smaller, Then just coming a white background. I'm just gonna start messing with him. Um uh, so I will save it. Okay, so I think what I'll do is ah, little trick that I use. That's kind of my go to trick. I turned out to abuse it too much, but it's I work for me. Go online, like, try to find some good paper textures, like paper, old kind of parchment or kind of ah stained paper. Um, or concrete. Sometimes I have a lot of photos on my phone that I take and images of Capt from the Internet of textures that I find as I go. So here in my studio has got a handful of concrete floors that I could find with spots that have a really cool texture to it and I'll be doing a whole another class here it and seven dedicated to just building in making textures and using them in your are. But for this guy, I've got this paper texture. Just I send it out so you can see some transparency. But I'm just grab it and drag it over him. No, quick and it's really big, so I'm gonna try to make it small his size. I'm not wasting. I think the tighter I can get it. This kind of more tighter. The lines and the texture pieces are, I think, the better it will make him look. It just kind of see it's subtle, but you could see there. Some grainy gives him some Grady, but I might even duplicate this layer if I could double that up a little bit. Well, cheesed capacity. It's too much, but I just kind of like what it does that the colors like color was beard. It's become a kind of cool vintage shade. Um, the these textures are you can change the style, so I I've got it set to. I used to do, multiply or cover burn, but color Burns seems to do the job for me is it kind of knocks out of the white. So the white skin stay up here. So I'm a fan of color bird. And then, like I said, just kind of Mexico mess with your passive these what works for you. So, um, I wasn't sure I grabbed this piece of that I found on the internet kind of a higher EZ plaid texture. And what did the colors Not working for me. So I'm feeling like, maybe this won't be the right choice, but I think what I'll do is all We'll use my eyedropper tool, grab this color, and I made overlay. We'll see if this works kind of shooting from the hip here, overlay that colored on top of this and then multiplied. She kind of make this maybe make the bottom layer the plant earlier, black and white. So that's okay. It's a lot of the same color, you know, Just try it quick, so I'll take these two. I'm just gonna to make things easier for me. I'll just emerge the layers. So it's one filed record here. I'm gonna spread it over justice sleeves. So maybe go smaller. Two of them. So what a nice tight plaid. Um, now that they're here, I'll pull them down just above my vector file below the texture. And I'm gonna right click it and create clipping mask, not a clip it to him to the artwork. And then I will probably merge files together cause I don't care if they're separate. Merge these two layers together. I'm gonna bring down the opacity for just a second, and I'm gonna grab the layer. That is my artwork. I'll get this. Ah, magic wand tools. I'm going to select his sleeves because that's just what I want than us, right. Click it and select in verse, and that will make it so it selected everything but his sleeves. At this point, I'll go back to my plaid and make sure money and I'm just delete And that should have been theory. So I pulled up to its ice. I'm not liking that. I kind of liked it with it down. Little lower 42 a passage that's kind of working for me saves ago. So now what you have is a very flat you can see here on his wrists. It feels very flat. So I think what I'll do. I'll start with some shading on his body and face. So I'm gonna create a new layer the group, but a new layer. Um, I'll probably just clip it to the to the artwork is well, that way I don't find myself outside of our work, and I'll grab the eyedropper tool in perfect picked this color here literally grab this, uh, polygonal lasso tool. And I think what I'll do is I'll just I'm gonna drop this shape here. You don't have the right to it, but I want to get to. What I want to do is I want it now select in verse. So, Dad, what I have selected is everything outside of this. So this is now I could draw on this part so I'll take a brush. Here's here's the task to finally could brush one that works for this Kyle. Kyle Webster has made a ton of really awesome Photoshopped brushes and I would recommend getting them for a reasonable price. And some of these air hiss some of these roads. I found that you could get a free sometimes they're paid, but, um so I'm just gonna try here a little shading and then bring on the opacity. That's just too harsh. So if I d select that, you can kind of see that as I've been able to give it a little extra the depth. So I'm gonna go back to the magic wand of this. Grab his arm again. That pressure go back to that later. Not much to over here. Shading is not something I'm really good at, so I'm just gonna kind of just throw some texture. Um, I never went to school. I shouldn't say that. Of course, I went to school. I graduated from high school, and I did. A little bit of college could be realized today. It wasn't built for college, So, um, I never took in your classes. And I think I sometimes wonder that leaves me a little bit behind in the dust when it comes to some of the principles of shading and composition. But, uh, I guess you get what you pay for. So now do the same thing here with this sleeve with his cuff. Select inverse. Make sure on the right player. Russia. I'm just happy know that. I think just so it doesn't come off so harsh. You bring in the opacity, so it's not so strong. I don't want it to be like super noticeable but shading. I just wanted to be there, too, to help. So we'll do the magic one again on his jacket. I've got the tolerance of the 50. Sometimes if I keep the tolerance too low, it creates Ah, above the gap between the did two different thing that I'm knocking out. So let's see how this works out. We'll go back to that same lawyer. Look, try different. Brush the water. More subtle, Do you select is to see how it looks. I think I'm okay with that. We'll do the same. Go back tomorrow at work and grab his pants. Go back to that layer and I've been using this same color that may not work for here. Looks like Peter's pants. Yes, this color and darken it up. They keep the blue. I've seen some people do this with one universal shading. Come and I think it complete to make that work. But this guy, I'm liking the colors subtle. It's subtle. It's not consistent. Rag. That probably should be in line with your son. Okay. About that. Let's do the same thing with the boots. Just a quick one. Just on this foot here. Can you just come even gives me, But I think there's a little dirt of this. Okay. Always remember, in this safe is you go select this. It's if I could with a shade of this guy with his walking stick, I chose, uh, with the stick here, I chose to just draw my own lines. Um, but I could have grabbed. And I've done this the past, like a wood texture online and throwing it over there just like I did with the shirt. But it seemed little overkill. Okay, let's work on the hat. Now. I'm gonna select him, go back to my layer that appreciating on it's no subtle. She's going on. Scoot back to see how it looks. Yes, it's do some skin. Now, this part always very nervous because I don't wanna don't overdo it. In fact, just to be safe, I might create a new layer to do this on just so I could control the better. So forget to select his face. So I'm gonna be a little sloppy. Um, because I'm gonna go back over in the race I don't like, and I'm also gonna change the opacity, so it's not so obvious. That's okay, I guess. I'll just show you another toy used. This is a vector layer, so it's maintaining. It's kind of crisp lines of integrity because it's still vector while it's dropped into this photo shop. But that means that I can edit it directly, so I'll just show you a quick total of use in the past, so I'll rast arise this layer by right clicking it. You wouldn't see a big difference if at all, really. But I use this burn tool is the first time I ever really used when it came to go straight. Let's see you that sometimes it just kind of dark. And besides that this is a method I would use a supposed Teoh, adding a new layer. Um, like I did and I don't know, I felt like this gave me some kind of cool burning effects, so I kind of like it for this. Maybe is too harsh, but the downside is you can't control it. After you've done it, you have to undo it or, um, deal with it. Tap here, this somebody's and maybe I'll darkening his, uh, right about that. I kind of want to make him look tired, but grab a magic wand and grab his troops to change your pastor. Eyeballs select in verse. I'm just gonna see what happens if I It's big. I know it's his eyes pop little bit. I'll just undo and see. It's a little splotchy. You can see a big spot here, and that's a lot of it, because the paper texture is adding so emphasis to Okay, so that's that's my texture and shading that time I do it, um, they're still details to be added. I think that will come as I look at it and kind of stew over the drawing. I make around change some things and maybe some things we'll have worked. And I just want mess with. And I think over time, like I said, I'll just have a stared and we find myself changing things. It may become a completely different person. I'm kind of liking you expect a nice a nice fella. So, um yeah, that includes Thea. The coloring, texture and shading. This is a photo shop. What to do now? is kind of Ah, to you. I won't spend any time building a background. Or do you just sit him on? Because that's not so much what this class is about. This is more just to kind of talk about show. Um, you know the person, but yeah, I hope you've learned something from this. I appreciate you taking the time to watch. We'll catch you later.