Create Your First Illustration With Character Design | Ron Mulvey✏️ | Skillshare

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Create Your First Illustration With Character Design

teacher avatar Ron Mulvey✏️, Artist / Art Teacher

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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.

      Illustration and Character Design


    • 2.

      Setting Up For Creativity


    • 3.

      Draw and Paint


    • 4.

      Finish and Post


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About This Class

In this class, you'll get a fast introduction to creating an expressive watercolor with a simple Character Design.

No experience needed and you can follow along. 

  • Learn the basics of Illustration and Character Design
  • Create your own Watercolor Illustration following my step by step video 
  • No experience required—by the end of 30 minutes, you'll have your first Illustration and Character Design complete. 

I'm a professional landscape artist and have designed and created over a hundred original characters for my Art Courses on my website 

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Ron Mulvey✏️

Artist / Art Teacher


I've been working as a full-time artist since 1980. I have had the pleasure of teaching art since 1983 and have taught thousands of classes on drawing and painting. I would consider it a privilege to assist you in achieving your artistic goals.

I have taught the basic and advanced mechanics and principles which give us the skill and confidence to express creatively, for the past 30 years. Sharing them is my passion! 

What Do I Like Teaching?

Watercolors and Acrylic are my specialty. I work with oils also but not as often as the water based mediums.

I love trees, mountains, rocks, water, flowers, and all that nature has to offer. Getting out into nature always gives me a creative boost. You get the real energy and feeling of space and belonging.See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Illustration and Character Design: We're going to follow these steps, just changing shapes, maybe smaller head, there's the feet, the same. Spots on this, maybe just a little bit of zigzag. I'll start near the dinosaur and I'll point my brush at the [inaudible]. 2. Setting Up For Creativity: We're about to paint. We just need to know a few things about painting. One is the selection of brushes. This is a number nine brush and works very well for this size of paper. This is number six brush. It's a little smaller. There's the two brushes. we'll put them on either side. Then I have three transparent colors. These are acrylic paints. There's different qualities. Buy a mid-priced range and you'll get good economy from it. Alizarin crimson, makes great oranges and reds, pinks, violets, Thalo blue, which is very transparent and vibrant, and Hansa yellow. You can substitute Azo yellow, which is also very transparent, but these colors mix together make brilliant oranges, greens, and violets. Let's go over a few of the fundamentals of mixing paint. I need a container. You can use little yogurt containers. I use in class premixed paints. I'll take a jar of paint and I've already mixed it, so all I need to do is pour it into my containers. This is Thalo blue. It's an acrylic paint. I'll just show you. What we would do is take a little bit, carefully pour it. You might want to use an eyedropper, that works really well, a full eyedropper. Then it's all premixed. It's already to go. Its the right consistency. This color here, which we call Hansa yellow, is a transparent yellow. There's a little bit of Hansa Yellow. I don't have to use very much. You can see a tube like this, which might cost you $6. This is a fairly good brand, but you can get them for $3.95, $4. Don't go cheap. Buy something in the middle and you'll get lots of quality. I have two brushes. I have a number six brush and a number nine brush. I'll use the number six brush to mix this up. I'll take a little water and I'll carefully put a little bit of water in here. You'll notice I didn't use too much. Make sure my brushes' clean by rinsing it in the water and now you'll see how I'm mixing it. There we go, I have the Hansa Yellow mixed. In the beginning, we'll be painting with just the three primaries. We're not even going to be mixing them together. Okay, that one's all done. I think I'll just take a little bit of the Alizarin crimson, it comes in a tube like this. It makes fabulous oranges and violets with these colors. I'll pour a little in, put the top back on. I have my rag, so I'm not wasting paper. I have my number nine brush and my number six brush and I'm ready to go. 3. Draw and Paint: [MUSIC]. So leave lots of room around the edges. Very important. We're going to start down here with the first step. Next step. Here's the back leg. Notice how the tail went right down is even with here. Here we go, the neck comes up. Now, I've got to go all the way. Either you can start at the head, or the tail. There's this back. Do I go way down here? No, I keep going up, up, up, up, up, and then turn around here and make a join. Boy, that was a long line, wasn't it? Head, comes around, watch this line, it never stops. I'm going to give it some nice weight right there. I don't even know what this might look like, but we'll see when it's finished. At the legs to make the 3D effect, make sure the back ones are a little smaller. Some toenails, maybe just one toenail. An eye or two, I think I'll put Anabell's saddle in. Remember this line looks a little better when it's curved slightly. If I put in this little zigzags here, I think I'll just stop them here, so that somebody can actually sit on the saddle. A couple of spots. We're just about done our character. Okay, next part is, I'm going to keep it simple, is to put in the hop over the horizon line. So here we go. Notice I can turn my sharpie on the side and get a nice thick line. When I get to the dinosaur, I stop and I hop over to the other side. Simple. I can add some water either on top or below. I think I'll add it on top. That could be some water. Now, here comes my mountains. [MUSIC] Go right into the dinosaur. Where would that line come out? Maybe down there. Add some trees for texture. If I'm teaching, I'll say, well, let's add 350 trees. There's usually a few moans in the crowd. But when we get down to work, it adds texture. You can even make some of them stick out like this, so that there's an edge rather than just a straight line up top. Some dots on the sand. Remember, a Sharpie is better when you dot it on the side, and then you don't want the tip. So I put a few of these in. Add maybe some loopy loop clouds, my clouds are getting out of hand. Wow! That's a big one right behind. Maybe a loopy loop up there. Maybe a little one there. Three is good. One,two,three. We also add three little decoration on the saddle, and we are ready to paint. 4. Finish and Post: I like the paints to be over to the side in front of me, and I like my rag over here and my water on the right just so that we don't drag the brush over and drip all over the painting. Let's get started. Here is the little rhyme I used with the kids, "Put your brush in the water and swim like an otter". There we go. A little skill there just getting water on your brush, and rub the brush, pat the brush. The reason being, you don't want too much paint on your brush or dripping paints. Now, I roll my brush in the yellow and then I shape it on the top and just touch it to the rag to get rid of any drips on the end. Now, I'll just take my brush and I will put in some yellow over thunderfoot. You'll notice, I haven't lifted my brush and I'm just wiggling it. It's almost like using a felt pen. You can even get your finger down on this little holder here see, and use it like a pencil. You can stroke the brush one way or you can wiggle it. Now, I've used all that paint just for that little spot. Now I'm going to dip and get a little more, shape my brush. I'm going to leave the saddle and the spots. There we go, filling it in with hansa yellow. So I've only used a primary. I haven't changed colors. We add blue over the yellow after it's dried. Well, we will get a very vibrant green. Changing colors or even using the same color, rinse your brush, pat it, roll it. Here we go. Now, see the big blob there, I think because too much paint. So that's why an extra brush. We call this the pick up, the drip brush or the thirsty brush. See, I've stopped that big drip. Now, this time I'm pushing the brush a little bit to get rid of all the paint onto the surface of the paper. Here we go. Now, the sand is probably going to be a different color. I'll just take some of the yellow that's already in the brush. Without even tapping it or getting rid of the end of the drip, I will just empty and clean the yellow off my brush. But I've used the paint that was in there. We're going to let that dry and I'll show you what we'll do with that in a minute. There we go. Clean the brush again. Let's choose another color. Let's choose red. We have alizarin crimson. Touch it. I'm going to do the saddle. Comes out a nice light pink and put a little bit on there. Maybe the toenail. Could left the toenails white, but that's good. I'll take a little more of the alizarin crimson. I'm going to give it one couple more seconds to dry. Then I'm going to do what's called little tap stroke. See the tapping will make the saddle darker. The water is in the paint and the water is sitting on top, it's not quite absorbed into the paper yet, but by being gentle, I can darken the colors that I put on. So two coats, in many cases, or three or four or five, Some watercolorists do 50 coats. They just take their time and they keep adding little bits of the color. You want to keep the paint thin and transparent. If it takes a couple more coats, that's okay. The clouds, I'm going to leave white. Wow. There's a happy accident. See what I did? I touched it. So I don't have to completely leave it white. I just take a little water there. Clean off my brush and I have picked up that little drip of red. I'm going to move now to the Phthalo blue. Phthalo blue is probably the strongest color we have. It goes along way when you mix it, you don't have to put very much in. So I've charged my brush and I touch it here. I'm going to start here. Once I start, I want to just gently move the brush back and forth. You can create a stunning little effect called gradation, dark to light. My brush is getting dry now. If I quickly go and get some water, but don't rinse my brush, just carefully bring it over. Now I've added water to the paint that was left in my brush. If you wait too long, you'll get a little line right there. So you want to be very quick when you do that. The last one, I'm really going to just charge my brush with water, and I'm going to do one more little technique that the English watercolorists in the 18th century discovered,and it's called lifting. Now my brush is clean, it's dry,and if you watch carefully, I can just let that thirsty brush drink up a little bit of the color on one side and lightening it very carefully. There we go. I think that's good. Leave that there. Next step, we're going to put some color in the water. Now the water, I'm going to make slightly a little darker. It's going to be solid from here, solid blue. That's going to hop over and get light, light, light, light, light, light light, the opposite of what's up here for effect. In the blue we go. Shape the brush, touch it. Here we go. You put the blue in gently. I could leave little white spots for waves. But I'm keeping this very simple here. There we go. Hop over the dinosaur. I've put a little bit there. Then I clean my brush off and zip over to the other side. As you can see, the light area here is contrasted by the dark, and the dark area here is contrasted by the light. But these have the same value. Both yellows, both the same value. We're going to now change this into green. You'll always get a better, more vibrant, pure looking color that really sinks, if you make your secondary colors, such as green, with the first color underneath, thoroughly dried, and then adding a thin amount of blue over it first. I'm taking some Phthalo from here, adding a drop of water to that little bit to thin it because I'm going to test and see. Touch it to the rag. I'll start near the dinosaur and I'll point my brush at thunderfoot. You can get a better edge if you point the brush rather than trying to point from this side, paint it pointing. Now I'm going to finish off here, adding the blue over the yellow. Notice, I've gone dark to light. It's a really easy principle, dark to light. You'll see little bits of yellow showing through. I'm going to leave those there. They'll probably simulate a little bit of sunshine. Don't forget this little area here because that's dark and this light. I think I'll make that using the little tap technique a little darker. We've gone, I could add one more little tap right here while the paint is still wet and setting, I can drop it in and it will mix all by itself. Oh, it's starting to get dry here, see? A little water, soften the edge. Perfect. I've got quite a puddle here. So I'm going to pick it up a little bit with my thirsty brush. As I said, that's lifting the color. There we go. That's a good start. I could put a little yellow over the water and make it green. I think I will. As before, I took a little paint from here and added water to it, and that should be dry now. I'm going to put a little blob on like that. Clean my brush. Then I'm going to just brush it around a little bit and bring it over just a little bit of green. I think I'll just put a little smidge there and leave this blue because it's reflecting the sky. Perfect. The saddle, I'm going to give a little bit of 3D look to it by taking some of the red and touching the bottom of the saddle, the girth, and just dropping in a little bit there. Dry off the brush, soften the edge. Maybe a little on the spot. I have to watch. It's wet here. So I have to be careful or this will bleed into there. Maybe a little darker here. So you can adjust the colors. I'm going to add a little more yellow to the dinosaur. A little stronger color. See, every time you add a coat, it gets a little bit more vibrant. Little more here. I have to watch the wet paint near the girth, so I'll just stay within there. That leg underneath, a little darker, a little bit on the tail. Just dropping it in, just patting it in. A little bleed there, that's okay. There we go. Now I have yellow on my brush. So rather than just rinsing it, I'm going to take the yellow and put some more on here. I've emptied my brush in there before. Now, I'm just wetting the paper again. Coming up to where my thunder foot's feet are. That's hard to say, a thunder foot's feet. I'm wetting the paper, making sure I come across the paper this direction because it might drip all over it. I'm not quite touching everything, but I'm coming up to the edges, and I have some water on there. I'll let that sort in for a second because the fun part is coming up. I'm going to check my picture and see if I missed anything. I've got my white clouds, graded-sky. We've got these little zigzags there. You can hardly see them against the white clouds. Let's turn those red. I could make those purple, but I'm just going to stick with a straight red Alizarin crimson. Just the tip of the brush. Remember the little dinosaur's all wet there, just go with that, sit in there, and let that dry for a second. I have to get this before it dries. This is called dispersing the paint. I'll take some [inaudible] blue, and because the paper is wet, you're going to see how the paint disperses, just touching it, just give it a swipe, maybe one at the bottom. Now I'll take some more yellow full strength, come around the picture. A good swipe of the yellow. That's bright. One more swipe of yellow here. I'm cleaning my brush each time. I'm going to take a little blue, I'm just going to do one more swipe here up to the tail. You can see now the paper's dry there, so I have what's called a hard edge. I soften that edge by rinsing my brush, adding a little water and softening the edge. It's wet over here, so we're okay. A little more water, soften the edge. There we go. You're good if you use threes' like one blue, two blue, three blues and now the red before it dries, I'm going to take the Alizarin crimson, and I'm going to put it right through the middle of the blue, and the paper because it's wet will do all the mixing, and even a little bit in here, one more here, and one there. Now I'm going to do something that will help this blend together by tilting. You See I'm tilting it. That means the water will run. Water usually does run downhill, I'll tilt it this way now. You can see the little bead coming up here. It's coming up, it's only going to go where it's wet. So I can tilt it this way now, just watch what's happening. You don't want to add more water because the paint is starting to go into the paper and it's starting to dry. Now I have a big bunch of red down here. You see right down here, so I'm going to tilt it right up to see if I can get that red going downhill. I'm going to tilt it one more time for the final tilt. The wetter the paper is of course, the more it will blend. A little edge here, I think I might just encourage gently with a wet brush, very gently over to the edge to close that little gap. I brought some some nice little spots of white, yellow here showing, I don't want to touch those. I don't want to go in here. Oh look, it's all beating up here, so I'll tilt it this way. Now I'm going to let that dry, and I'm going to do one more thing to my saddle. Let's take a little bit of red, tap it. I think I'll dry my brush a little more. Tap the red on the cloth and give this a little more on the top, just a little bit, and the last thing I'm going to do is I'm going to turn my little thunder foot into orange. Sometimes it's good to leave a color out. So here's a very thin, red, not thick at all and thinned up nicely. Brush's touched and I'm going to run it over the dry yellow, and I'm not worried if I leave a few yellow spots that adds sparkle to the picture. We always want our watercolors to sparkle, and that's achieved by leaving just little minute bits of the under paint showing. It's coming up, here it is. Well now it's getting a little dry, so I'll take a little water rather than paint. I just want a thin veil of Alizarin crimson over the [inaudible] and yellow. There we go. I might make that inside leg a little darker because it's in the shadow area, so I'll add a little more there, a little more there. I might add a little more where else? Maybe a little bit on his head here. There we go. You see the little yellow spots still showing, now to get that blended, a little bit of water on my brush, and there we go. Before this dries, if you bang it a little bit, especially down here in the dark, the wet paper, it's still drying, that will leave little dark marks like sand, and there we have it. A beautiful white, striking blue, tasty little green, green-blue here, pure blue here, and a mix of colors here. We only have one more thing to do, and that's to take off the tape. As soon as the paint has dried sufficiently, it's now time to take the tape off. The secret is of course pulling the tape away from the picture. Not like this, you may rip the edge of the paper, so we pull it away from the picture, and gently remove the tape, and we get a very clean white edge all along the paper. It's finished and it's ready to go up. I'll put my name on it there before and there we have it, a beautiful little picture of thunder foot, the dinosaur. That's it for this session of painting, join me for some other ones. We're going to learn how to do the splashy method, that's where the paper's soaked. This was a good example of what we call the English style of watercolor painting where you use controlled washes and pick up the drips, it's a great introduction to one way of painting.