Draw a Circus of Characters: Exploring Body Shape and Proportion | Nina Rycroft | Skillshare

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Draw a Circus of Characters: Exploring Body Shape and Proportion

teacher avatar Nina Rycroft, Picture Book Illustrator

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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.

      Understanding the Basics in Body Proportion


    • 3.

      Looking at Shape Across Time and Media


    • 4.

      Making a Good First Impression


    • 5.

      Designing Your Characters Using Shape


    • 6.

      Layering-In More Detail


    • 7.

      Drawing Character One


    • 8.

      Drawing Character Two


    • 9.

      Drawing Character Three


    • 10.

      Drawing Character Four


    • 11.

      Drawing Character Five


    • 12.

      BONUS Body Proportion Drawing Demo


    • 13.

      To Finish


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About This Class

Do you want to learn how to draw characters quickly and easily? 

I can show you how by using simple shapes.

First in a three-part Body Works series and designed for beginners and seasoned artists alike, this class walks you step-by-step through the character design process, guiding you through every aspect of drawing your own set of circus-inspired characters.

During the classes you can shadow me as I produce a set of characters for a 'real' project – an unpublished YA (young adult) manuscript – and take you through my thinking and design process, giving you tools and tips to apply to your own characters. This class offers drawing demonstrations, worksheets, offering inspiration along the way, giving you every opportunity to draw the best circus act in town!

In this class, you will learn ...

about body proportions: how to draw the ideal body at various ages.


Body Shapes
- how and why shape is used when designing character
- how a set of characters evolved across time and media
- the importance of making a first (and lasting) impression


The Process
- how to draw a set of characters from simple shapes to a finished drawing


You will need ...

  • Something to draw on. Paper, an art pad or iPad.
  • Something to draw with. In class, I'll be using my 'Staedtler Mars Technico' clutch pen with refillable blue and carbon (normal pencil) leads. This set also comes with a sharpener. I've had my set for 20 odd years ... so it's well worth the investment.
    If you don't want to go to this expense, you can use a blue colored pencil and a 'regular' lead pencil.


Interested in character design? 

Below is my series of Skillshare classes that walk you through the entire process of how to illustrate a character from start to finish. Use this series to either brush-up on a particular skill or work your way through, for a comprehensive guide.

Nina's Skillshare Character Design Series

  1. Face Facts: Beginners Guide to Drawing a Self Portrait
  2. Face Shapes: Draw a Series of Character Using Simple Shapes 
  3. 101 Guide to Drawing Eyes
  4. Emoji Me: The art of Facial Expression
  5. How to Draw the Head From Every Angle: Part One
  6. How to Draw the Head From Every Angle: Part Two
  7. How to Draw the Head From Every Angle: Part Three
  8. Draw a Circus of Characters: Exploring Body Shape and Proportion
  9. Draw a Circus of Movement: Simple Techniques to Bring Characters to Life
  10. Draw a Circus of Line & Gesture: Design a Picture Book Character From Start to Finish
  11. Watercolor Magic: One Character Five Ways
  12. Illustration Masterclass - Exploring Technique and Style
  13. Learn to Use Procreate: Design and Illustrate a Bear Character
  14. • NEW • Animal Character Design for Picture Book Illustrators – Techniques and tips for designing characters with a narrative

Meet Your Teacher

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Nina Rycroft

Picture Book Illustrator


Please link up, subscribe and follow me on: Facebook I Instagram I Pinterest I Website

Hi! I'm Nina Rycroft, a picture book illustrator. I worked as a graphic designer in Sydney and London before turning my hand to illustration, with my first picture book Little Platypus received a CBCA (Children's Book Council of Australia) Notable Book Award in 2000. Since then, I've had more than a dozen picture books published worldwide, winning some awards along the way. 

If you're interested in learning how and design and develop character, illustration techniques and picture book illustration, then please follow me...or even better...try one of my classes :)

My dozen or so Skillshare... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: My name is Nina Rycroft. I'm a children's book illustrator. I've been illustrating picture books since my first publication back in 2000, and since then I've had more than a dozen picture books published worldwide. This particular class is exciting for me because I'm actually going to be using a real project. I'm going to be using a project that hasn't been published yet and I'll be designing a set of characters for a circus-inspired story. In this class, I'm going to take you through everything you need to know from the ground up, or should I say hitch tow. I'm going to take you through body proportion at various ages, looking at some well-known characters and how they've evolved across time in media. We'll look at silhouette and shape, and then we're going to use shapes, size, and proportion to design our own set of circus-inspired characters. You can work along with me. You can understand my thinking process and you can also apply this to your own work. As a project, I'm hoping that you'll design your own set of circus-inspired characters, and I hope you have fun with it. I hope that with the circus thing, you'll be able to exaggerate and explore and have fun with costumes and hair and just go to that playful, childlike imagination. I look forward to seeing you in class. I can't wait to see what you come up with. I'll see you very soon. 2. Understanding the Basics in Body Proportion: Welcome back. In this class, I'm going to take you through the ideal body proportions at various ages. I'm also going to show you when you do get it wrong how strange this can look. Once you've understood the basics but also the big no-nos, you'll be able to find the middle ground, and you'll be able to use the many different shapes and sizes of the human form when designing your characters. We're going to work our way up in age, starting with a one to two-year-old. At this age, the child is four heads high with a head height of six inches. The limbs are quite short and stocky still, and the head compared to the body is actually quite massive. Here, a three to five-year-old has a head height of six and a half inches, and the entire body is five heads high. The limbs are starting to get longer and leaner, and you can see a little bit more of a neck. A six to nine-year-old has a head height of seven inches, and stands six heads tall. At this age, the legs and the torso are equal in height. A 10-14 year-old, has a head height of seven and a half inches, and stands seven heads tall. The length at this age is all in the legs and the limbs in general. At 16-18 years of age, a teen has an ideal head height of nine inches, and stands at seven and a half heads high. The body is almost fully grown, and we just have a bit more height and bulk put on. Finally, an adult male's ideal body proportions are having a head height of nine inches, and standing with a body eight heads tall. Just to finish off this section, I'm going to show you a baby from newborn to age one, and you can see how, not including the legs, the baby is 2.5-3 heads in length. The head is massive compared to the rest of the body, and babies at this age look like they have no necks at all. The head is just sitting directly onto the shoulders. It seems like the taller you get and the older you become, the head size compared to the body gets a lot smaller, so it's worth keeping in mind when you're creating characters for a story. Here we have at a breakdown of the ideal body proportions from newborn all the way through to adult. Now I'm going to take you through what can go wrong. If we mix things up, things can start to look a little strange. Using figures from the body proportion chart, let's take the child and line them up next to an adult. Now if we're to make the adult child size and the child adult size, you can clearly see how strange this looks.The miniature adult looks very pixie like, and the chart looks like the marshmallow giant from the movie Ghostbusters. The head of the child at adult size is enormous, almost three times the size of the adult's head. Drawing a child character with a head too small can make the child look a lot older, so that's worth keeping in mind when designing a character. Now I'm going to show you an example of how a picture book character evolved over time in order to align with a new, more modern audience or reader. We're going to line up the child figures from the body proportion chart against the original Christopher Robin character created by Alan Alexander Milne, or better known as A.A. Milne, and illustrated for a collection of Winnie-the-Pooh stories by Ernest Howard Shepard back in 1926. You can see that if you place Christopher Robin's character against the body proportions chart, he sits really nicely in 6-9 years of age bracket. Fifty-one years later, in 1977, Disney redesigned all the characters for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, updating the characters to align with a newer and younger audience. You can see here Christopher Robin has a much larger head, shorter limbs, and a fuller, rounded torso, which makes him look much younger than the original illustrations. Another interesting fact. In 2007, Disney Channel introduced The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and they made the Christopher Robin character look very similar to this one. However, he was renamed Darby, and I think he was placed at six years age. As a small exercise, I'd love you to draw the same character at two different ages, whether you want to draw the same character as a child and then a teen, or whether you want to keep the ages closer together like the example I've just shown you. Don't forget to post your characters in the project section of this class, and we can keep adding to them as we go through this course. You can also print out a PDF of my body proportions chart as reference. Make sure to join me in the next video where I'll be using all of the characters from the Winnie-the-Pooh series to explain how and why we use shape when we design characters. 3. Looking at Shape Across Time and Media: Welcome back. In this lesson I'm going to show you how and why we shape in character design. Winnie-the-Pooh remains Disney second best selling character after Mickey Mouse. We've grown up with them so we all know them well. I'll use them to explain the use of shaping character design. I'll be giving you a brief summary of each character, the shapes they've used, and the meaning behind the shapes. Most of the Winnie-the-Pooh characters were named after the real Christopher Robin and his toys. You can actually see all the real flushes that inspired the characters at the New York Public Library. This is one of the most memorable illustrations from the original Winnie-the-Pooh story, sitting side-by-side with Disney's 1977 character redesigns for the many adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh. He can say how the style and characters evolved over the course of 50 plus years. Side-by-side, you can see how Disney tried to find the balance of being true to the original illustrations, but also modernizing aspects of the characters for the screen and for the newer, more modern audience. So if we're going to compare both the images you can see at the top, Disney's use less animals, created more space between each character. If you look closely, you can see how the characters are used to form an arrow shape with the arrow pointing in the direction that the characters are pulling in an effort to get, we need to pull out of rabbits hole. You can also say that rather than using a lot of the animals that are similar in shape and size, like the original illustration, Disney has chosen to use less characters, but also characters with completely different shapes. If we were to do a lineup of the Winnie-the-Pooh characters, you would be able to instantly recognize each one just by looking at their silhouettes. So let's break down these characters into basic shapes, starting with Christopher Robin. A large round head, and a teardrop shape for the body, there are no sharp angles, just lots of soft round edges. The only human character in the book, he has a cheerful and compassionate personality and someone who Pooh and the others look up to. His round belly also makes him very similar in shape to his young audience. So here we have Winnie-the-Pooh made up of series of round shapes, including two round circles for the ears. The round shapes make for a friendly, thoughtful, and sometimes insightful character who is always willing to help his friends and try his best. Just looking at the silhouettes, we need the pose very similar in a lot of ways to Mickey Mouse with all the round shapes and round circles. Piglet is Pooh best friend besides Christopher Robin. In the books, he is a timid small animal who often takes the lead from Pooh unless overcome by fear, Piglet is much smaller than the other characters. He's made up with tear drop shapes for his torso and for his head. So funny enough, piglet and Pooh share the same shapes as Christopher Robin. So now we have three different kinds of triangle: Kanga, a female kangaroo, and the doting mother of Roo is a triangular shape. Rabbit is more of a right angled triangle, he's friendly and capable of being impatient and irritable. This is reflected in the sharp edges of the triangle. Now, Tigger is an obtuse triangle with an upright body and the broad chest and likes to have fun and is so overconfident that he thinks that any task is what Tiggers do best. Diamond shaped Owl presents himself as the mentor and teacher to the others. So sharp and bright, much like a diamond. With his puffed out chest and upright stance, Owl and most of his friends believe that he's the most intelligent animal in the wood. But he really is quite a scatterbrain. Eeyore is made up of rectangular shapes. He's wide and low to the ground and very solid, sarcastic and ever glum. He is more cautious than some of the other animals and is often reluctant to go along with their actions. So the block shapes of Eeyore are very suitable. So as you can see, the lineup of characters come in all different shapes and sizes, making them instantly recognizable. So now let's do a direct comparison with the characters from the original illustrations. I've already talked about Christopher Robin in the previous lesson, so we'll move on to Pooh, who hasn't changed at all, with the exception of adding a red t-shirt and a slightly rounded belly. Piglet hasn't changed a bit. Kanga and Roo look really similar to the originals. Eeyore's hardly changed, he just has a slightly more Disney fat face. Now Rabbit looks significantly different from the original illustrations. The Disney version is much more character like. The original illustrations for Owl were not taken from a plush toy and that's why it looks much more real than all the other characters. You can see how Bernie Masterson updated Owl's look for big screen. You can see a similar transformation for Tigger as well. Now, that we've looked at the importance of shape and it's role in creating instantly recognizable silhouettes, in my next lesson, I'll take you through my process of designing a set of characters for a story, and the process that I used in choosing the appropriate shapes for each of those characters. 4. Making a Good First Impression: It only takes seven seconds to make a first impression. So as an illustrator, it is our job to make not only a first impression, but a lasting one. If I were to illustrate a set of characters for a story, I usually start by designing the head and the faces of the characters. Here, in my face shapes class, I draw wall of characters using nine simple shapes. So make sure to check that out if you're looking for some inspiration. If I were asked to illustrate a story, I'd start by designing the main characters. I'd read through the manuscript as many times as it took. I'd start highlighting any clues or visual information about each of those characters, and I just jot them down. My first character is Bim, and the descriptions that I got from him, that he's a strong man, Lego-like. He has a bit of a limp, and his entire bodies tattooed. It describes a little bit about the tattoos. There's a circus pictures, and he has a tiger on his neck. I also got the fact that he's got lots of rings and skull, dragon, Celtic Cross, and even a wedding band on his fingers. So I've got a pretty good idea of where I want to go with him. My second character is female, and she is mean. She's heavily made up. She's a dressmaker, and her eyebrows are pencil thin and slightly uneven. The manuscript describes her as having brown, long, elegant fingers, and a very pointy nose. My third character is an 11-year-old boy who, "looks like a willow dandy line." He's tall, he's thin, he has a halo of curls, and he's very graceful when he sways back and forth in his skate board. He also is wearing blue board shorts and a t-shirt. My fourth character is probably the main character of the story. She's the boys cousin, and she's wearing a red dress with soft folds. She has a green fabric flower on the skirt itself. She also has a green hooded cloak that she wore to her mother's funeral. But no actual detailed description about her face or her hair color or anything like that. So I'm thinking I might even go redhead or blonde with her. I'm not sure yet. My final character is grandpa or pop. He's lived a full circus life, and he now lives in an old-fashioned gypsy caravan. He has white wavy hair, leans forward when he walks, and he whistles like a cook's kettle. So each of these characters now match the descriptions in the manuscript, and each one's looking pretty unique. Here, I've played around with costumes and accessories, but I've kept the frame of the characters bodies pretty consistent. The problem with this, if I were to check with costumes, the props, the hairstyles, all the characters would look exactly the same. Having the same body frame is not any little ho hum, but it also makes it really difficult for the reader or the viewer to tell the individual characters apart quickly. It's that idea of that first impression. You only have seven seconds to really allow your reader to get as much information as possible of that character. To help you do this, is by using shape. Now for a quick exercise, and to take to the next lesson, I'd like you to quickly draw the faces of three circus inspired characters. Maybe a ring master, an acrobat, a clown, a strong man, a juggler, anything you can think of. Then join me in my next lesson, where I'll show you how I use shape to make the most out of my five circus inspired characters. 5. Designing Your Characters Using Shape: If you want to make a good, lasting impression, you can use shape to help make the characters instantly recognizable, and to help the reader or the viewer to distinguish one character from the next, so you can see the first character, Bim, I've made into a very square, blocky character, and he's extremely short and quite sharp and just Lego-looking. My second character is the dress maker, and she's long and lean, so I've made a much taller than Bim, and you can see that she's got a very narrow torso, but I've decided to put large hips on her, and very long, lean legs as well so she's a very different shape to Bim, almost like the complete opposite. Now, my third character, he's the 11-year-old willowy dandelion boy, so I'm just making a very elongated torso, long legs, and a bit of a bend in him, I didn't want that sort of willowy look. I've kept the 11-year-old girl character slightly more realistic than the other characters, so very straightforward torso with a slightly nipped in at the waist. The way I see grandpa is a large, older man, and I've just decided to use round egg shapes. Now, I have the basic torso shapes of all of my characters. I'm going to start working in the shapes of the arms and the shoulders. You can see here I'm working on the dress maker, and I've curved the shoulders a little bit and you can see the bend in her elbows, and I'm just using a very simple triangles for the hands, and you can see Bim here, I'm actually doing very Lego-looking hands for him as well and he's much more bulky. The boy I'm going to just work from a shoulder, and I'm just going to drape his arms straight down in line with the body a little bit. I might even have him holding something, maybe like his skateboard. The girl I'm again drawing across the shoulder, and I'm just going to rest her hands out. She will have a skirt on, so I just want them to keep their hands clear of that, and finally, I've got grandpa. With one arm resting down a side, I'm going to have the other one holding onto a walking stick, and this, I think it's in a sense of authority as well. I now have the torso shape, I have a general placement, a really simple placement of where the arms are going, and I'm now going to go back to Bim and work my way through, and I'm not going to draw their faces or the heads with too much detail, but I do want to understand and see the shapes, so you can see with Bim here, I'm exaggerating and making his [inaudible] mustache enormous, and you can see that actually affects his shadow, his silhouette. For my dressmaker, I really want her to look exquisite, like Marie Antoinette and her huge, enormous opulent wigs and dresses, and she'll be designing all these circus costumes, so I really want her to be quite something. The boy's willowy like a dandelion, so that's exactly what I'm going to do, a halo of curls. The girl I'm going to make her head shape hexagon in shape, and the hair is going to fall from that as well. It's really simple bob, and finally, granddad with a full head of white curls, and I'll probably put a hat on him too. if I were to take the line drawing and fill it in, I'd have a silhouette of what we've done so far, and you can really see just by the silhouette how individual each of those characters are. You have a very square, short, stocky Bim, you have the tall, elongated dressmaker, you have a long willowy 11-year-old boy that looks a little bit like a dandelion. You have the girl who's a little bit more realistic, and then you have pop, the granddad, he's quite a big, authoritative figure, but he's also friendly and round, and you can see comparing all those characters together. If you look really quickly within seconds, you'd be able to tell one from the other, and you can see the shapes that we've used inside those lines. As a small project for this lesson, I'd love for you to add bodies to your character's heads, so you've designed some circus characters, choose shapes and sizes and make sure that the characters and the shapes and the sizes all work as a set as well as working individually. Please join me in my next class, where I'll be layering in more detail to finish off my characters. 6. Layering-In More Detail: Hi, welcome back. In this lesson I'm going to be taking you through the process that I use to add more detail to those basic shapes that we did in the previous lesson. As you can see, I'm starting with my first character, which is Bim. He's the strong man, so much shorter than the other characters, quite blocky and lego-like. You can see I'm just putting in a lot of shoulders, lot of muscle. You can see the handlebar mustache. I'm keeping everything quite similar in shape. You can see the hexagon shape of the head, and then the nose comes out in the same angles, and he's got quite a strong chin as well. Now, Bim has tattoos all over his arms and legs and body right up to his neck. You can see I'm just drawing in the shape and softening the form of the arms. I'm going to start the tattoo on his chest. Why not? We'll just do a nice big one down the center and we'll make it a sailor tattoo like an anchor. I'm going to draw in the tiger that is going to be wrapped around Bim's neck. This is the face and the claw of the tiger. It's just picking on underneath his mustache and just wrapping around his body. The tail will end up somewhere on the other shoulder. I'm just adding in more details to the tattoos. He has a sword cutting through a heart. I guess every tattoo would have a story. If I were to do another version of this character, I would really think about the stories and add a lot more, I guess circus pictures. I'd have to do a bit of research and make sure that I could get some really nice imagery around Bim's story and all the details in each tattoo. We have a bit of a skull here, we've got a heart above the skull. We've got a delve I think on the other side of our swallow. I'm just tidying up the edges of Bim. You can see his legs are quite small and he will have a limp when he walks, so I've got to be aware and remember that as well of how we think about that more when I add movement to him later on. My next character that I'm going to be adding more detail to is the dressmaker. I'm going to start with her face and her head. Now, I was given a description that she had a long pointy nose and long elegant fingers. From that description in the manuscript, I got the idea that her whole body would be quite elongated. I've made her head quite long and oval. I'm going with the wig shape. The Marie-Antoinette wig is inspiring a more opulent dress that she's wearing. You can see I'm just adding in the long fingers. I really want to exaggerate those. I'm keeping her arms quite thin as well, and the top part of her body, the torso, I want a very small thin waist. You can see her hips are quite wide. What I might do with that, Marie Antoinette, I might just bring in a full bit of skirt. But I want to keep her lean, so I'm bringing in the dress at the base. I might just tidy in with a ribbon of some kind and you just see the tops of her shoes poking out the bottom of her skirt. My next character is the young 11-year-old boy. He's willowy and dandelion shaped. I'm going to really try and make him long and lean. You can see I'm putting in joints for his knees. I do that sometimes with the elbows as well. I want to also draw ovals for the muscle of the shin. I don't want him just to have a little stick legs. I do want it to have a little bit of form. I don't want him so skinny because he is athletic and he does ride a skateboard with a bit of grace and style. There is a little bit of muscle tone on him. I'm just drawing in his arm and his hand and I think I'm going to have him holding a skateboard. I've just got a longer nose. He's got a longer body and a longer face. Just makes for a longer nose and the halo of curls. Now here I haven't really put in detail of the curls, but I can add those in later. But I did want them looking more like a dandy line from the silhouette than actual curls, which could look a bit clown-like and probably a bit similar to the dressmaker as well. Here he's wearing just modern shorts and a T-shirt and just longer style T-shirt and I'm just drawing in the skateboard. He's casual looking. Just putting in more detail around the shoes and the socks. Now I always find feet and shoes really difficult to draw, so just take your time and just do what you need to do as far as research goes with those details. This is the main character of the story and she's probably the most realistic of all the characters as far as the shape of the body and the head. She's not exaggerated whatsoever. She's a girl, so not quite womanly. She still has a fairly straightforward frame with just a slightly nipped in waist. I'm just drawing a bit more detail around her face and her hair. She's quite pixie looking. I wanted some big eyes on her. I think the description was a red dress with a green fabric flower on the skirt. The dress has gentle folds, I think the manuscript said. I'm actually going to draw the legs and the frame underneath the dress. I always find that helpful when you draw the whole body underneath, otherwise it looks a bit disjointed. I'm drawing the legs, the shins, the knees and then I'm going to come in over the top and draw the outline of the skirt and the dress. I find that's really helpful especially at this stage when I'm not that familiar with what I want for her entire body and I'm not really sure what she looks like. There's the flower, I'll just draw a circle for the flower and I'm just putting in a bit more detail around the wrist, the hands, the elbows and that area. It's just coming in and just layering a little bit more detail over the top of those original shapes that we had. My final character that I am going to be drawing is grandpa. Grandpa is very round and soft and so I'm making a round button nose and quite a large chin. He's a large man, so he'll have that double chin, and it makes him look a little bit more jolly as well. I'm just drawing a bit of a jacket on him. I wanted him to be more of a ringmaster. I want him to have that flavor of he's had a history of being dressed up in tails and a hatch. I need to downplay it as well because he is just a normal grandfather figure in the story and he lives in a gypsy caravan, so he's a bit more casual these days. I do want to make him approachable. At the moment it looks a little bit Charlie Chaplin like or Laurel and Hardy. I'm going in that direction. I want the ankles to be quite thin and the body to be much more fuller and rounder. I want to exaggerate that as well. His head and neck are forward, but I do like the belly sticking out. He'll walk with his chin and his belly. I'm just drawing in his arm as short as a quite far back. They lean back behind his belly and his torso. I want to put a hat on him as well. Not a top hat, but I think the bowler hat would be fine, but a hat of some kind. I think a cap would be too casual. I think this would work really well. Just putting in the round shapes of the hat and I think that works quite nicely. Now it's your turn. Use what you've learned in this lesson and try and apply that to your own characters. Just adding in more detail over the top of the basic shapes that you did earlier. Please join me in my next class where I'll be layering in even more detail to these characters. 7. Drawing Character One: Welcome back. In this lesson, I'm going to be drawing over the top of my character sketches, adding in more detail to my first character. So far, for most of the character design process, I have been using a blue leaded pencil, and now I'm using a normal pencil, a normal lead. You're more than welcome to do the same. What I'm doing here is, I'm choosing the lines in the areas that I might be able to adjust things ever so slightly. But I'm highlighting and darkening the areas that I'm happy with, the shapes that I'm happy with. I'm just working my way around and pretty much tracing what is underneath. I'm able to tweak a few things. I want to make the mustache fuller. I'm not adding in much detail, but you can see how I've got a lot of working drawing underneath in the blue and I don't have to copy everything. So here I'm just filling out the form of the singlet top. I'm just trying to understand how I am going to resolve the muscles, and the arms, and the folds of the skin. So I'm just adding in those details that I just need to process and understand for myself. Here I am working around the fingers and the thumb and I really like to add in the details and render those properly, not to its higher form, but I do need to understand what the fingers are going to look like and how will the rings sit on the fingers and then the elbows and what happens when the skin reaches a point of an elbow or a knee? How does the material fold? I'm thinking I might even add some boots for this character. Again, I don't want to get into too much detail, but I do want to resolve a lot more of the detail than I had beforehand. So here I am darkening in the trousers and I'm also doing the same with the mustache. I'm going to leave all the tattoos blue, I don't want them to stand out and be too strong as far as this illustration goes. So it's just using this process in this point to understand your character in much more detail. 8. Drawing Character Two: Welcome back. In this lesson, I'm going to be drawing over the top of my character's sketches, adding in more detail to my second character. Here I am with the dressmaker character, and I'm just working on the eyes and adding those pencil thin eyebrows that were in the description and they were a little bit uneven as well, and her pointed nose. You probably get a better view of the nose in a profile, but for now I'll just do a sharp triangle. She's supposed to be quite mean looking and I think that can easily come across with all these sharp, pointy details and angles in this character. I'm just working around the ear. I'm going to add in some earrings, and the whole way through this tracing process I'm going to just be filling in and adding more detail. I'm going to be leaving out the elements that I don't want to use anymore and I'm going to be adding in bits that I want to put more focus on. I'm going to send apart her hair and make more of her wig and just work my way through her neck. She's got a very long thin neck, so I'm going to bring that down with a long lacey top. I didn't want to expose the skin because I feel like she's a little bit older and I just don't think that would look as good. Now, this shape of her dress is the same shape that was used in the movie, The Dressmaker. The very distinctive red dress. I've taken a little bit inspiration from that, and I've just thought, being a dressmaker it could be quite nice to have a hat of some kind. The hat can be like a pin cushion. I'll just put in a few pins and have a little bit of a thread fly away here from one of the needles. I might do the same on the wrist like she has a little and silver watch or a piece of jewelry. She has pin cushions which will make it quite sharp and possibly even a little bit like no one would want to mess with someone with sharp weapons on their wrists. It could work quite well in the story. Again, I'm going to keep the fingers and the hands elegant and long. This trends far across to the rest of the body. I'm thinking also with the material and the fabric. I'm just bringing in a bit of a pinstripe and I might even make this a tartan. I'm not quite sure. The story moves around different times, so I could play around with that when it comes to color. Also, while I'm here I'm just tracing around the the skirt of her dress and to draw the skirt in at the base. I've threaded through some ribbon, which could be quite a nice little detail and it ties in with the flyaway thread in her hair as well. So I'm now drawing the base of this skirt. I've just drawn a simple shape, so what I want to do is add in some folds. I think this would tie nicely with the folds of the young girl's skirt as well. It would echo that. I'll just make her shoes little slip ons rather than heels. I think you can see me struggling here trying to get the shape just right. I'm quite happy with the look of that. I'm just just going to get an idea of tonal value, and so I'm just coloring in that base of the skirt and some shadowing. I'm happy with how that's looking. See here my pinstripes now move to a tartan pattern. We're changing. Anyway, I could've had fun with the colors of that actually. I could do polka dots, stripes. It's lending itself to being quiet over the top, this character. I remember my mom having this amazing sewing basket and it was made from wood and it had lots of little pockets in it and you folded, you unclasped the hinge and folded out these two sides, and then inside the sewing basket there were like hundreds of little spools of thread and sequence and that thing. It was absolutely magic. I think something like that would really suit this character. 9. Drawing Character Three: Welcome back. In this lesson, I'm going to be drawing over the top of my character sketches, adding in more detail to my third character. This is the 11 year old boy who's willowy, dandelion, tall, thin, a halo of curls and he sways when he skateboards. He's quite, I guess, athletic and nimble. He is described as having blue shorts and a t-shirt, so he's quite modern and casual. I'm just working my way through the details of his hair, and the folds in his t-shirt and just working around the shoulders as well. I'm just drawing in the wheels of his skateboard and I'm just going to figure out how his hand is going to look holding onto the skateboard; the thumb, and the hand, and the wrist and how is that going to then affect. I want the arm to actually hang down. Then I'm just adding in more detail around his shorts. I don't want to make them too baggy. I quite like the idea that he is thin and willowy and I want to make the most of that by keeping his clothing quite close to his body. Just finishing off the skateboard and the legs to the trousers. I'm working my way around the knee, and also the muscle of the shin and putting in the shape of the foot. I'm doing the same now with this second leg, just working around the knee and the muscle. I want him to be really leaning into one of the legs. Here I've got the foot casually bent at the ankle. I'm just filling in the feet. I'm not happy with that one. If I was working on the computer, a command Z, and it would be done but the idea of doing this in pencil is that everyone has a pencil at home and I do want to make this class accessible to everybody. Do not feel like you can't do it because you don't know how to draw with a tablet. Anyone with a pencil can do this. Here we have it, my third character. 10. Drawing Character Four: Welcome back. In this lesson, I'm going to be drawing over the top of my character sketch, adding more detail to my fourth character. Here we are with the young, 11-year-old girl character and she would be the main character for the story. I'm just tracing the outline of her head, her hexagon shaped face, and putting in some larger, largish eyes, her hair parched on the side, I haven't quite worked out what color I'd like her hair to be, but I do know that her dress will be red and then she'll have a green, so fabric flower on her skirt. I'm darkening the hair at the moment, which does work but I'll see how we go when it becomes color. I'm just outlining the top half of her dress. You can see all the blue lines underneath, they really do help when it comes to getting the details of the character the way I want them. Tracing around the detail of the fingers, and her thumb in her hands in general, they are always the most tricky part. I must say if you do struggle with drawing hands and feet, best not to ignore that. That means you need to draw hands and feet more often so that you can really practice. It's very easy to walk away or try to avoid drawing hands and feet and very easy to tuck them behind the back or put something in front of the [inaudible] but really, it just goes to show that bit of practice, you'll be able to get it and just draw them more often. I tend to do that if I'm struggling with something in particular, I make sure that I draw it, and draw it, and draw it, until I feel comfortable with it. I spent quite a bit of time outlining the folds of the dress, the soft folds. Now, I am just working my way down the legs. I'm just putting some slip on so ballet shoes on the girl, and just working with the knee, and just coming back and finishing off the details of the face and the rest of her body. Just making a stronger outline on the outside of the skirt and the legs. Just putting in the finishing touches. Here we have it, the girl character in a line up next to the other three characters that I've drawn so far. Please join me my next class where I'll be putting the finishing touches on the last character. 11. Drawing Character Five: Welcome back. In this lesson, I'm going to be drawing over the top of my character sketches, adding in more detail to my fifth character. Grandpa is a big rowley powley egg-shape. I'm just thinking Humpty Dumpty. Looks very Humpty Dumpty actually. I'm going to make him a very laughable character. Very friendly and a very happy, jolly face. Large eyebrows, nice round button nose. The face is quite round and full with a bit of a double chin because he does have a bit of a belly and why not? We'll just go the whole hog. Here, I've got the round shape of the top of his head and ears. I'm just working out with his bowler hat, how far back that would go. You can see the head has to fit within the head, so I'm just following those lines up of the edge of the head. I'm just filling in and I guess the tonal value of the darker hat. Here's the curl, look of white hair that he has at the front. I'm working out his jacket and how that sits on the body and also the shape of the lapels. I want quite a large thick tie. I'm going to make that a darker in color. Just for tonal value, I'm just coloring that in. I want the jacket to be pinned in at the waist. It's almost bursting open. You can't see that because it's behind the tie, but I still want to have that feeling. The shapes of the lapel work its way down and the jacket is open at the bottom. Just drawing the hand that is holding the walking stick. Again, you want to work out these details of the fingers and the hand. A lot of people mix up the way the thumb and the fingers go. If you are struggling with that thing, just have a look in the mirror, like hold something like a bottle or a broom or whatever and just try to get the fingers as correct as you possibly can, because it does look a bit strange if you get them wrong at this point. I'm putting in that tartan shape on his jacket. It's quite clown-like, isn't? It ties in nicely with the dress maker and her fabric as well. Again, I don't know what color I'm going to be using, but I think I'll be using bright circus colors with all of these outfits. Just working my way through with the tonal values of these patterns. I quite like that, actually it looks really fun. He's a bit of a hairy high pants, so the trousers go above the belly. I'm just drawing in the knees and you can see I just draw in ovals where I thought the muscle on the back of the shin would go. I do want to make the most out of how the trouser falls across the leg. Again, he's got a bit of a wide stance and small ankles, and then shoes, which I'm not quite sure yet. At the moment they look a bit more like slippers than shoes, but I guess that will get resolved in the next couple of drawings. I almost feel like I could put a big flower in his pocket on his jacket or something like that, but that might be a bit too clown-like. Maybe, I might think about putting in a scarf or something along those lines. Just putting in some tonal value, dark trousers just so that I see how that looks across the board. I just want exaggerate his belly a little bit as well. Here we have it. Grand dad is standing in a line up next to the other circus-inspired characters. As a project for this class, I'd love for you to draw, finish, and add more detail to all of your circus-inspired characters. Please post them in the project section of this class. If you found any of this information in this class helpful, I'd really appreciate a review or at least a thumbs up or a like. It really helps the class get exposure on Skillshare so that more people can find it and take part. 12. BONUS Body Proportion Drawing Demo: Welcome back. In this lesson, I'm going to be showing you and demonstrating the body proportions of a female character using the head height of two heads high, all the way through to nine heads high. So the first character is a baby from 0-2 years of age, I'd say, and the head looks ginormous, especially when the entire body is also one head height. Now the second drawing is of I'd say about a 2-5. This next drawing is of a girl from I would say between the ages of five and nine years. So she's still quite young looking with quite a large head comparison. Or if you compare it to the body, the head is still quite big. This character, which is five heads high is of a girl between the ages of 11 and 13. So we're just hitting the teens now. She still looks young with the larger head, but the body seems to be more in proportion. So now we're moving on to a 13-15 year-old, and the girl is six heads high, so much longer in the legs and the head seems to make a better fit as well. Here we have a girl aged, let's say 15-16 years of age. Again, it's all in the legs. But you can really see what the head, how much more and proportionate it looks with her head. I mean, she still has long legs, but the head looks much more balanced, I guess, in size. Now we're moving to 16, 17 year old, and she's getting quite long and really long in legs as well. I'm certainly not that long in the legs, but anyway, eight heads high, and I'd say she's very tall character. Now just out of interest, here we go with a nine head high, very tall, almost gigantic type of character. She looks tall because her head is so small compared to the rest of her body. So totally different from the baby all the way through to the nine head height. I've created a PDF sheet, if you want to print that out and try this exercise for yourself. It's quite a good learning experience and you can either do this with a male character or a female character. But I highly recommend you do it. It's a good reference for future work. 13. To Finish: Well, thanks for taking part and producing some awesome work that I hope to see posted in the project section very soon. The idea of going through proportion and shape and then applying it to your own characters I hope you find it helpful and that you can take all this knowledge into your next project. Designing characters is one of my favorite things to do and I hope that having learned about body proportion, size, and the way to use shape to create a set of characters has really helped you. If you do find any of this information in his class helpful or interesting, please do like and leave a comment or a review. I really love hearing feedback. I really enjoy building my classes around your interests. I hope to make many more classes like this, so please stick around and I look forward to seeing you again very soon.