Draw a Circus of Line and Gesture - Design a Character From Start to Finish | Nina Rycroft | Skillshare

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Draw a Circus of Line and Gesture - Design a Character From Start to Finish

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.

      Idea Generation


    • 3.

      Idea Generation ... Continued


    • 4.

      Draw a Character Map of Your Character


    • 5.

      Sketching Circus Girl - Illustration One


    • 6.

      Sketching Circus Girl - Illustration Two


    • 7.

      Sketching Circus Girl - Illustration Three


    • 8.

      Sketching Circus Girl - Illustration Four


    • 9.

      Circus Girl - Line & Gesture Illustration One


    • 10.

      Circus Girl - Line & Gesture Illustration Two


    • 11.

      Circus Girl - Line & Gesture Illustration Three


    • 12.

      Circus Girl - Line & Gesture Illustration Four


    • 13.

      To Finish


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About This Class

Ever wanted to illustrate a picture book character?

Here is your chance! In this class, picture book illustrator Nina Rycroft will show you how to design a picture book character from start to finish bringing them to life with line and gesture. 

In this class, you will learn how to ...

  • generate and develop ideas
  • transform your ideas into a character design
  • design and draw a character map
  • draw your character in multiple poses
  • draw your character using line and gesture

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: Intermediate

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1. Introduction: Welcome to body works part three, draw a circus of line and gesture, where I'll be showing you how to design a picture book character from start to finish. In this class, we'll recap on the techniques that we learned in body works part one and part two, and then apply it to a circus-inspired picture book character. Using the PDFs that I've supplied, we will work through a brainstorming session listing the emotional and physical traits of our character. Characters are used to carry the plot, theme, mood, ideas and emotions of the story. But they don't exist until we design and draw them. I'll show you how to transform these ideas into an actual character map. Mapping out the front view and side view of your picture book character offers valuable reference for when you working on a project. Once you have your character map, I'll then show you how to bring your character to life using the wireframe technique to place them into multiple poses. Then finally, we'll draw a circus-inspired picture book character in a series of poses all the while exploring line and gesture. Make sure to recommend this class if you find any of the information helpful or interesting. This will give the class more visibility on Skillshare, making it easier for other students to find it. I look forward to seeing you and your characters in class. 2. Idea Generation: The character map is a process used to examine and gain a deeper understanding of your character. What your character looks like, their personality, and how other characters will react to him or her. In part one of this series, draw a circus of characters. We explored body proportions and designed a set of characters using simple shapes. I'm going to use this lineup to inspire a new character. In doing so, I'm going to show you my full process for designing a picture book character, that will hopefully lead into an idea for a story. The youngest character in my circus lineup, is a 12-year-old girl. In part two of this series, I'll talk about age appropriate movement in characters. What I want to do is, bring the age of my picture book character down to, let's say, between the ages of four and six. You can find this character map PDF under the attached files in your project tab. With my picture book character in mind, I'm working my way through the list of emotional traits, circling any that I think would make a really good fit. Enjoy this process, really take your time, and if you think any traits are missing, just add them to the list. In the right-hand column, list your characters emotional traits, from the most to the least significant. My picture book character is a young, four to six year-old girl. She's adventurous, she's imaginative, but she's also a little bit lonely, and I wrote that, because I want that to be a part of the story. She's bright, she's joyful. I'm just referring back to the words that I've circled and pulling out the ones that really sing to me. She's creative, she's lovable, and she's very self-confident. After exploring the emotional traits of your character, we now move on to the physical traits. The first thing that pops into my head when I think about my picture book character, is this red, curly, wild hair. She's five years of age, and because she lives in a circus, I'm guessing she has access to all kinds of circus costumes, so that's what she's going to be wearing. Let's say my circus girl character's father is a strong man, and the mother an acrobat, my character would have a young but athletic body type. Accessories, I'll say, I'm going to keep leaning on this circus costume idea, and she has access to a magician's, or ring master's top hat, and that sort of thing. With my circus girl, her likes are also had dislikes. She loves the traveling live, but sometimes she wishes that she could just stay in one place a little longer. She also enjoys the circus and all its color, but sometimes she wishes she could just have a bit more normality. She loves her colorful circus family, but sometimes she wishes to have more of an ordinary one. Writing this now, I've just had an idea that her mom was a flying acrobat that died in a terrible accident, and so she was raised by her aunt, the seamstress. Her most precious possession in the whole world would be, the toy rabbit that her mom gave to her as a child. I'm thinking about using one of the rabbits that I designed, in my bunnies and books class. These last few questions, really help establish a picture book character's journey, and help set the scene for your story idea. What my character most wants in this world, is to fit in and be like other children her age. What must make character do to fit in. Maybe it's my circus girl character's first day at school, and desperately trying to fit in, she's dressed in the plain school uniform, and she has even tried to flatten her hair. I'm thinking this could be a story about celebrating differences. After having worked through this process, it's now a lot easier to picture what your character looks like. Use the column on the right, to list your character's physical traits. I've got a young girl character with red curly hair, pale skin, rosy cheeks, and freckles. She's always in dress ups, some kind of costumes. She's got green eyes, or blue eyes, that sort of thing. Always carrying her bunny. There's just a lot of sparkle in her life, and her eyes, and she has a huge smile. Now it's your turn, complete your character map with a picture book character that you want to explore. Please post it in the project section for all of us to have a look. 3. Idea Generation ... Continued: Welcome back. In this lesson, we'll be moving on to the second page of our character maps, focusing only on three of our character's emotional traits. I still don't have a name for my Circus Girl character, so I'll just leave that blank for now. The first trait that I want to work with is adventurous. I have four square's under adventurous, and I'm filling in my first bit of evidence, which is my character comes from circus family, and she is always on the move with her circus family, so that would make her lifestyle quite adventurous. I'm also thinking that she may collect postcards from all the towns and cities that she's gone to. On the road with a circus family living in a gypsy caravan. I'm now looking at imaginative as my second trait, and then finding, I guess, visual evidence for these particular traits. We have dress ups, so costumes, sparkle, and imaginative play. We then have her toy bunny, who could act as a sub character, or it could be her imaginary friend, so she could do a lot of make-believe play with that toy bunny of hers. Also, I'd like the idea of her putting on shows, and dressing up, and performing. That's what she loves to do. My Circus Girl character has a lot of visual evidence around her imaginative sides. Her clothes, her hair, her toys, her circus show, colorful life that she lives. Now, I'm going to work through the third trait which will be lonely. She never stays anywhere long enough to have friends her age, so that would contribute a lot to her loneliness, I think. Another piece of evidence would be the fact that she so desperately wants to fit in, and to fit in, she wants to do what other children her age or doing like going to school. The physical evidence of this would be trying to straighten her hair so it's more like the other children, and also starting school. She replaces her bright colorful sparkly costumes with the gray school uniform. Pitch book characters are used to carry the plot, theme, mood, ideas, and emotions of the story, but they don't exist until we design and draw them. Let's get started with that in our next lesson. 4. Draw a Character Map of Your Character : Welcome back. In this lesson, we're going to use the lists of emotional and physical traits that we filled out for our characters in the previous lesson to help us design the front and the side view of our circus inspired character. For this lesson, I'll be using my clutch pencil with a colored lead, the sharpener, and an eraser. But if you don't have one of these, any colored pencil will do. At this point, I'm going back to the simple shapes that I'm going to start structuring my character with. A circle for the head, I've drawn the ribcage area, a circle for the belly and hip area, and I've put in circles for the shoulders, the knees, the elbows, the wrists and I'm just filling those out with flesh, once I've positioned where I want the arms and the legs to be. You can see now, once I've got a basic idea of where the body parts are sitting, I can then come in with a darker line. At this point, we're just sketching whatever comes to mind, moving our pencil across the page and just jotting down any ideas. If you feel like you need to change the position of the arm, it doesn't take much at this point to do just that. I want my character to hold something so I've decided to lower the arm a little bit. The idea is to sketch and scribble, and play around with different angles and shapes, and not to be too precious about it. This should be the first time we're drawing our characters and it may take three or four go's before you get it just right. Use this time to refer back to the emotional traits and the physical traits that we did earlier. How can you physically show whether a character is adventurous, or imaginative, or lonely, or bright, or creative, or self-confident. If they are self-confident or if they're shy, how you show this with the way your character is standing? Think about all those things while you're doing this character map. Think about the physical traits, the clothing, your characters height, their size, their build. Think about their hair, the hair color, the length, the style, any accessories that you might think will enhance your character and their story. Even their dislikes and likes might come into how they look from the front view. I'm now moving on to my character's face, starting with the eyes, which I'm going to keep quite large and doll like. I'm going to keep all the features quite simple. My circus girl character is quite bright, joyful, creative, and lovable. I'm going to make a lot of her big beaming smile with quite a wide cheeky face, with her head resting on a quite narrow neck and shoulders. Her ears are quite small. I wrote down in my physical traits that she has curly red hair and I want this to be a feature on her. I also wrote down that she had a magician's top hat or a circus ring master hat so I'm putting this on my character sketch. So you might think of accessories, hair length here. Is it straight? Is your hair curly? What length is the hair? What color is the hair? We're not working with color at the moment but you do want to keep this in mind while you're sketching. Going back to my list, I wrote that my character will be wearing circus costumes. I'm thinking a mix of maybe the acrobats costume, layered top type thing. I like the idea of stripes. They're quite bold, maybe a black and white or red and white stripe waving sequence. I'm thinking a little frill or some skirty thing around the waist of the costume. I still like the idea of her pot belly and keeping in mind that this circus girl character is five years old. She'll have the pot belly, the sway back, and the way she stands, she might even be slightly pigeon toed but standing with her legs straight and quite confident four or five-year-old. On my desk in front of me, I have some sketches that I made in a previous class called Bunnies in Books. In one of those lessons, we drew toy rabbits after seeing and being inspired by a lot of picture books. I'm going to use one of these toy rabbit drawings as her toy. I think it ties in really well because she has the costumes and the magician's hat and the idea of pulling the rabbit out of the hatch. This can be her best friend, her imaginary friend, her toy rabbit. It's nice to be able to tie in what I've done in the previous class and with this character. As we did in the Draw a Circus of Movement, Body Works Part 2 class, we're going to draw a front view and a side view of our character. To help, you can download the circus girl character in that PDF by going to attached files in the right hand column under the My Projects tab. Here you can see that I've drawn almost a blob shape for the torso with a larger circle for the hip area and a small circle showing where the shoulder socket would be. From this, I've drawn the kneecap with the leg kicking back. A circle for the knee, and a circle for the ankle joint, and then you fill in the rest of the area with the flesh and the costume. I'm just working around. This is a five-year-old character, so a bit of a pot belly and little bit of a sway back. I'm just filling in where I think the frills would go on the costume later, area, and even bringing across guidelines for the stripes in her costume. I'm just looking at where her elbow would reach, again, using those guidelines and bringing that area across. You can see I've rubbed out where I didn't want the elbow reaching back too far. I just want to show it more like resting. It's just understanding how you want your character to look like. What stance, what body posture do they have, and then just taking across the information from the front view and really thinking about how that would look from the side view. You can see with the rabbit character, the rabbit toy, I have to really think about the arm, that length of the arms. Those two legs that are leaning on the ground but slightly spread out, how would they look if you were to turn and rotate the character 90 degrees to the side? Now we're moving on to drawing the profile of our character's head. There's quite a lot of work involved in doing this for the first time. If you do need to spend a bit more time on this, I do have a class that can walk you through it step by step in far more detail. You're more than welcome to head over there or if you've worked it all out, it's just a matter of transferring all of that information onto a character map. Just moving across the eyes, the cheeks, the nose, the mouth, how does it all look from the side view? Use and refer back to that front view and transfer as much information across from that front view to the side view. It really does help. Here I'm working on the hair. I wanted the curly red hair. I've made quite a big statement with the short curls and I'm just thinking about the hat. It is tilting away, so I have to think about the angle and what part of the head would you see and what would be hidden. You can see how I'm still figuring it out. I'm making a bit of a mess actually but anyway, I'm using this time to play around with shapes, with sizes, and try to understand what my character looks like from the side. Now I'm going to work my way down the character using a darker line. I'm just pressing more confidently with my pencil. I can use all the sketching that is underneath as a guide. I'm just working my way through the shape of the legs and the arms, the torso, the head, and just darkening the areas that I'm more confident about. Here I'm working my way around the toy rabbit and just imagining what parts of the side would you see and what parts are hidden. Just finishing up on my circus girl character map, the front and the side view. Please join me in my next lesson where I'll be showing you how to use this character map to draw your character in many different poses. 5. Sketching Circus Girl - Illustration One: Welcome back. In this lesson, we're going to be using our front and side view of a circus girl character map, to help us draw a character in this rhythmic gymnastic ribbon pose. You can download the wireframe handout by going to attached files in the right-hand column under the My Projects tab. Here we'll be working on the wireframe for illustration number 1. Just as we learned in body works part 2, how to draw circles of movement, we'll be placing our character in the same position shown in this pastel reference. Once I have the basics down, the position of the head, the rib cage, the pelvis, and the joints for the arms and the legs, I can then start to overlay more of that detail. You can see how I'm closely referring to the reference material, and I'm getting the angles. It's all about the angles of this point. What is the spine doing, what angle is that front leg versus the back leg. You can see I'm sketching quite lightly at this point. I'm not pressing too hard at all, it's all about just sketching and placing in any anchor points and any shapes from that reference to my character. At this point, it's still sketching in quite lightly and just getting a feel for the shapes and the angles. The shapes of the limbs, the proportions of the limbs, and the angles that those limbs are positioned in. From the wrist to the elbow to the shoulders, and then from the pelvis to the knee and the ankle, and just then connecting those with the right and correct angle. Here I'm working on the thigh, so from the knee all the way up and then down to the ankle. You can see how similar that the angle is from my character pose, if I was to compare that to the reference that I'm using. You can say that I haven't pointed the toe as much. A five-year-old wouldn't be able to point a toe as dramatically as, let's say a gymnast or a ballerina. Just keep that in mind as well. Keep in mind the age of your character and their physical ability. Once you get a feel for your character, here I'm just putting a bit of a swing in the skirt, and I'm not putting much detail, I'm still just pressing in where I'd like it to be. I'm just looking at the reference material and transferring it onto that back leg. My character's wearing little slip and soft, I don't have to worry about toes at this point. But I do want to get the shape of the leg very similar to that from inside profile drawing that I did in the character map earlier on. Do keep referring back to that character mapping, and if anything, have it in front of you while you're doing this sketch, it really helps to keep going back to it and using the measurements of that character map and then transferring them onto this sketch, whatever pose you're doing. Now I'm moving around to the head and the shape of the head. Again, it's going back to that character map and checking the size and the height and the width of the face. Where does the nose sit? Using that information for these movement drawings. You can see this character's looking down a little bit as opposed to what we did before, which was looking straight ahead. The eyes of dropped a little bit and the nose, and everything's just lower down on the face, and here I have the curls in the hair, and they cover that back arm as well. The whole idea of this is that it is a sketch. It's not perfect, it's not a rendered illustration. It is just a sketch that we're then going to use. I guess in some ways you want it to be detailed enough so that you have a greater understanding of your character, and even if your final sketches are really spontaneous. At this point, I personally like to know every detail of my character even if I'm doing a spontaneous drawing to finish with. You can see I'm drawing a nice curved swooping line for the ribbon. In many ways it echoes the curls in her hair, which is lovely. You can say that I've drawn quite a light line underneath, and then once I feel that that's in the right position, I can then go through with the dark line. Just putting it in a bit of a shadow under the feet and the body of my character. I'm finishing up the first illustration in this rhythmic ballet pose. I'll see you in the next lesson. 6. Sketching Circus Girl - Illustration Two: Welcome back. In this lesson, we're going to be using our character maps to help us draw a circus school character about to pull a rabbit out of a hat. To help you can use illustration two, in the wire frame handout. Once you have the basic wire frame in place and you know where the shoulder sit, the elbows, the wrists, the knees and the ankles, and the pelvis. You can start thinking about adding in more detail, like in costume, accessories, here I'm placing the stripes on her and the frill on her Leotard. I'm using the points of the knee and the ankle, referring back to my character map, just checking the shape and the size of the limbs. Here, I'm now working my way down the ankle and the foot. I'm using my pencil quite rhythmically, just moving it up and down the character and not really being too precise. I'm just playing around with the shape and the size of each of her limbs. I'm thinking about putting stockings, like over sized stockings. They're slightly baggie on this character, so I'm just playing around with that idea. Here you can see I'm working on the other ankle and the foot is slightly turned in and much straighter. The stance is really quite powerful and strong on this character. Now that I've grounded my character with the feet on the floor I'm now slowly working my way back up. I'm darkening the line where I feel it's correct. You can see I'm putting in a little bit of wrinkle around the tights. I'm happy with the legs and the torso. Now I'm moving across to the face. Now that I'm working on the face, I'm constantly referring back to my character map. I need to make sure that the facial features are sitting in just the right place. The nose, the eyes, the mouth. How high and tall is the forehead compared to the chin and it's really important to get those right or it can completely change the look of your character. Do spend a bit of time on the face and make sure that you feel confident and comfortable with how your character's looking. Referring back to the wire frame, where I have circles for the shoulders, the elbow, and the wrist. I'm now filling in with the flesh and the muscle of the arm. Here I'm spending a bit of time on the detail of the hand and the position of the fingers and the thumb. It's really important to get those right and to feel confident about drawing details like the hands, they kind of finish the character. It's kind of like the exclamation mark of your character and what they're doing. Even if you have to use your own hands and look in the mirror, or take a photo and then copy it. Really makes sure to get those details right.If it doesn't look quite right, then go back and try to fix it at this point. Now I'm working in the detail of the hair and a lot of the time, it's very easy to change the hair length or even the side patching can move from side to side if you're not careful. Again, use that character map and refer back to it and see exactly where the hairline is, how long is the hair and how does it work? I've almost finished putting my character together and just putting in that final detail. I'm really happy with how this illustration has turned out. Join me in my next lesson where I'll be showing you how to draw this character pulling a rabbit out of a hat. 7. Sketching Circus Girl - Illustration Three: Welcome back. In this lesson, we'll be drawing the circus girl character pulling a rabbit out of a hat. You can see how I've used the wireframe and repositioned the limbs to change the pose of my character. Now, to help, you can use the illustration three in the wireframe handout and just use that as an underlay for your character drawing. So here, I'm moving straight over to the face and placing in where the main features will be. The eyes, the nose, the mouth, and the chin of the face. I need to get a sense of the arms being raised. If you were to actually raise your arms in the air, your neck almost disappears, and your shoulders sort of nestle in and around the face. So I've got to kind of understand that before I draw it. I find it really helpful to put myself in the same pose that I want to draw my character in. I find that feeling how it feels to be in that pose really helps when it comes to drawing the body in a certain position. If you're still struggling to draw a certain pose, you can always take a selfie, or position someone else in that pose and then take a photo. So here, I have the arms nestle behind the ears and the cheeks, and then I'm now working my way down the torso. Now this is a really confident body position. The arms are open, the shoulders are back, the chest is puffed out, and the legs are quite strong on the ground. So referring back to the emotional traits of this character, this self-confidence, lovable, so you've got the open arms, joyful, bright, imaginative, adventurous, they sort of all shine through with this character pose. I'm not going to overextend the knees too much. I want to have this more of a natural look. So I've drawn the foot, and the knees are quite soft. I'm constantly referring back to the character map, the side view and the front view of the character map. Just checking the length and the weight of each limb and making sure that the feet aren't too big or too small. Then I have everything in the right proportions. Now once I'm happy with the knees, I'm thinking about putting tights on this character as well, and I'm just moving around and darkening the lines. So here, I'm working on the skirt and adding in more detail around the leotard. So I'm placing in the stripes. Once again, I'm just referring back to that character map over and over. So before I add any curls, I'm going to go back to my illustrations that I did for the bunnies in books class, and I'm going to use one of the toy rabbits that I illustrated for my characters, a toy rabbit. So just this one on the end, I'm just copying a very similar looking rabbit. So now I'm drawing the second up-in-the-air, holding the magician's hat. If you were to hold this pose yourself, it's quite an excitable pose. It's almost like a ta-da sort of moment, and you want to bring that energy to this illustration as well. So now I'm moving on to finishing off my character with the curls in her hair, and just making sure that I have the hair part on the correct side, and then just tidying up around the features of the face and the mouth area. Once again, you really need to make just that little bit more effort when it comes to drawing the features of the face. If an eye is slightly too narrow or too high on the head, it can completely change the look of your character. So really, take time at this point to get your character's facial features exactly how you want them. Now, once you have this, it's just a matter of moving through the rest of the illustration and making a few adjustments and changes if you need to. It doesn't take much at this point to rub something out and redraw it. It's supposed to be messy, sketchy, and we're just sort of playing around with what looks like it's going to work and getting rid of the stuff that hasn't quite worked. So don't get too precious with these drawings. They are sketches and they're workable, so the idea is to just get a feel for your character and try to understand what they look like and how they move, so enjoy it. I'll see you in my next class where we'll be doing the final illustration pose for this character. 8. Sketching Circus Girl - Illustration Four: Welcome back. In this lesson, we'll be drawing the final pose for this Circus Girl character. To get you started, you can use illustration 2 in the wireframe handout. Now you can see how I'll be placing my Circus Girl character in the same body position that I found from a reference. That's the lovely thing about this wireframe technique. Once you understand how to use the wireframe, you can position your character in any position. So if you find the perfect body pose on a TV, or a poster, magazines, Pinterest, old family photo albums, you can use any of those kind of references and break it down to the basic wireframe and then overlay your character onto it. Storytelling with your character will become much more fluid, and without any limitations, you and your character will have this new sense of freedom. You'll be able to position your character walking, skipping, running, jumping, sitting, doing anything that you need that character to do. Then referring back to the reference I'm creating a pointed toe for my Circus Girl character. Now working my way up the torso. Now, I am using reference, but I'm also aware that the age of my reference and the age of my character is very different. I want to just be mindful of how my character would move if they were five years old. It may not be as precise and as exaggerated as an adult gymnast would be. I just need to keep that in mind when I'm positioning my character. Now I'm just working my way down the torso and just darkening in the detail of the laity and the stripes. Now here I'm putting in the thumb and the fingers for one of the hands. You can see it's quite different looking to the reference. That's the nice thing about illustration, you can stick as close to the rules or break them completely depending on what you're after. I'm not quite happy with that foot yet, but I'll keep going back to it until I nail it. These are drawings where you just figuring it out. They don't have to be perfect. They're not completely finished. They're just a way of getting familiar with your character in certain positions. It's a really lovely thing to do. I think once you've drawn your character over and over many, many times, you almost getting to know them a little bit better each time you draw them in a different position. Let's say you're working on a project for a long period of time, but you do get more and more familiar with the characters that you're drawing. I would say I start feeling really comfortable about drawing characters halfway through a project and even some of the time I go back and I redraw or re-illustrate some of my earlier work. If your characters aren't looking exactly like you want them at this point, don't panic, don't worry. It's all a process that slowly unfolds. It's a matter of just practicing and drawing that character on a regular basis. It takes time to get to know someone in great depth. So allow yourself that time and space to get to know your characters and allow the process to happen. The more you draw your character, the more confident, and the more familiar you will be with them. Just give it time, and don't be too hard on yourself or your character for that matter. For me this pose is a much more gentle pose than the other poses. It's nice to explore, I guess, this full spectrum of emotional traits. From adventurous and exaggerated, to something maybe more soft, and gentle, and lovable. Think about choosing poses that tell the entire story of your character; the good, the bad, the full spectrum. My final attempt at this foot that's been driving me crazy this whole time. I think I have it now. I'm really happy with how my characters turned out. I'm just going to just put in the final details and then I think we're almost there. Join me in my next series of classes where I'll be showing you how to use these sketches to illustrate a more spontaneous style of character with much bolder lines and much more gesture. 9. Circus Girl - Line & Gesture Illustration One: Welcome back. In the next series of lessons, I'll be taking you through the process of drawing the circus go picture book character in multiple poses using line and gesture. I'll be using my dough and studio pencil, geranium lake, which is a red and an ivory black round drawing pencil to produce the next four illustrations. I'll be using a sheet of thin, smooth bank paper. The reason for this is that I want to be able to see my sketch through from underneath. Now, if you want to use a higher quality or watercolor paper, you may need to use a light box so that you can see your previous sketches through that paper. The idea of having drawn the previous sketch, is so that we understand exactly what a character will be doing. Now, this spontaneous style of illustration isn't actually that spontaneous. It's more a matter of understanding what to leave out. I want to keep the line quite simple. I want to be able to have a bit of rhythm and variation with the depth of the line. You can see how I'm moving from light to dark and I'm bouncing a lot of the curves around with the a gesture of my hand as I draw. It's like I took the time for discovery in those previous sketches and I got familiar with my character. I understand now the proportions and the length of the limbs and the shape of the body. Now I can just move through, in more of an exact way and just pull out the moments and the expression that I want this character to portray. To create this idea of gesture, this thick and thin line is really helpful. It gives the illustration and the line work more rhythm and bounce, which is what I'm after. It's the idea of just looking and the whole time I'm stopping, I'm resting, I'm looking I'm seeing if I need to adjust things slightly, but I really don't want to overwork this illustration. To give the impression that my character is in motion, I'm going to put a few extra lines in around the arm, almost like a swivel. I might do the same on the skirt as well. I'm pretty much there with my Brett black line and I'm going to leave it at that and pick up my red pencil and start working on the hair. Once again, I don't want to overwork this hair. I want it to be quite bold. I'm pressing hard and doing minimal line work and scribble. I do want the curls to be more of a scribble than the perfect curl. This illustration is all about line. I want to keep it quite spontaneous and almost naive looking. I quite like the idea that it's looking fairly unfinished. I'm now going to draw the ribbon and I'm looking through to the illustration underneath. But I don't want to overwork it. I do want to come back in and maybe darken part of the ribbon on one side, almost like a shadow. But then I want to leave it at that. I'm just coming in and putting the finishing touches with the black line around the hand that was so touching and engaging with the ribbon. A little bit on the eyes and just little notes that I see could have a little bit more shadow or darkness. Maybe the top of her costume. That just about does a very simple line drawing of the circus girl picture book character. I'll see you in the next lesson. 10. Circus Girl - Line & Gesture Illustration Two: Welcome back to the second of the black and red illustrations, you can see how I've placed my sketch underneath a sheet of blank paper and I can see through, and I'm now feeling a little bit more confident with this line work. Sometimes it just takes a few go's before you start feeling like you can move through the illustration effortlessly. I'm just pulling out and I guess pressing hard you can see under the arm, around the crook of the elbow and the wrist, you can see how I just put little gestures of maybe a deeper line or a little flick in those areas. I'm making a little bit of the round belly and I want to also that round shape, that rhythmic shape for her skirt rather than the scribble that I was doing previously. This illustration has a real strong line of action from the foot all the way through to the tip of the finger and so I want to make the most of that. You can see how with my pencil I'm lifting and then pressing every so often and things like the ankles and the knees I do stop, pause and make a point of the knee or the little ankle bone around the arm, so it's things those tiny little things like that can make all the difference to your illustration and it just takes practice really. So I'm just drawing around the hatch and the foot, a little bit of line work around the ground, just coming in with the detail of the face and checking what was underneath before I start. Once again, I want to make this a spontaneous style drawing and you can see my red pencils quite blunt, I'm working quite quickly and putting in the red line and color for the hair and the costume. So I'm really happy with that and I'm just coming in, that was a bit dark so I'm coming in and just touching up a few little areas around the face, and I'm pretty much there with this character, just tidying up a little bit around the fingers, almost where the shadow area is. I want to just exaggerate and press a little bit harder and you can see how I'm moving those gestural lines around it it gives the body and the character just that little bit more movement and rhythm. So here we have it, the second pose of my circus girl character. I'll see you in the next lesson. 11. Circus Girl - Line & Gesture Illustration Three: Welcome back to the third illustration with the black and the red pencil. Here I can see my detailed illustration underneath and I'm just starting with the face, and the nose, and the mouth. You can see how I'm holding back, I'm not putting too much detail in, I don't want to play around with it too much. I just want to put in what is necessary. At this point, I've decided to change the angle of the top hat and the hand and you can make slight alterations like these at any point in your illustration and in your drawing. I'm just working around the hand, and the arm, and you can see how I work limb to limb and I also want to change the shape of this character's torso, so arch the back a little bit more and just have the character with a bit more, I guess lift. I am just swiveling the top illustration across a little bit so that I have my character grounded with one of the feet. You can see how I've bent and arched the back that little bit more, just drawing in the foot and you can see how simple the line work is. It's quite far spaced, feeling a lot more confident now with the line and how I want this illustration to look. Sometimes it just takes a few guys to warm up and it might be that you have a sheet of paper where you do a whole lot of mistakes and enjoy them. Once you've got that out of your system, you can actually then draw without fear and it can actually help with this spontaneous style of drawing. Just putting the pupils of the eye and the nose and you can see I've put a lot more shape in the rhythm of the rabbit as well. Coming in with the red and drawing very quickly the hair, the curls, and the straight part, and just down the center. You can come in as in with the black and the red as many times as you need to but just try not to overwork the illustration. You do want to have it looking spontaneous. I always come back with a black after I've dealt with my red because sometimes you need to fill in a few of your extras. Just seeing the two combinations of color, it's time to come in and to rework some areas. I want the swing of the rabbits, so I'm just swung in the arm around as well. Just to finish it off, I'm putting a bit of glycerin sparkle, bursting out of the top hat along with the rabbit. Here we have a spontaneous drawing of the circus scope, pulling the rabbit out of the hat. I'll see you in my next class. 12. Circus Girl - Line & Gesture Illustration Four: Welcome back to the final black and red drawing of the circus girl. Now I must say out of all four poses, this is my favorite. Once again, I have my sketch that I did previously underneath a sheet of blank paper. I'm tracing the lines that I want to keep and leaving out any lines that I don't need. It's all a matter of selection. Also, at the same time, I'm looking for shapes. The line of action is really important and making the most of any shapes that come forward. You can see this lovely curve around the spine and moves around the lake, and then it kinks around the other way with the knee bent. I also have that pointed toe that I was struggling with in the previous illustrations, I'm going to just rest with what I've drawn in the first moment. I'm looking underneath occasionally just to check in on the illustration underneath. You can see how I've got a bit of rhythm and motion going with that skirt and the curves that I found in that skirt. I'm just drawing in the fingers and the arms. Now just working a little bit on the detail with the ball and the features on the face. Now once again, I'm picking up my red pencil, and I'm just moving very fast, very quickly. The pencil is not sharp at all, it's quite blunt. I'm just making the most of moving fast and spontaneously through this illustration, just enjoying the speed of this style of illustration. I'm coming in and just exaggerating the weight of the line. From dark to light, pressing hard and then soft really helps with finding that movement and spontaneity with this illustration. Here we have at the fourth and final illustration of the circus girl. 13. To Finish: Now that you've brainstormed ideas for a circus inspired picture book character and you've learned the value on how to design a character map. You've also brought your character to life by using the wireframe technique to draw your character in multiple poses. Finally, you've drawn your circus inspired picture book character using line and gesture. If you found any of this class helpful or interesting, please recommend it by clicking the "Yes" button, as this will give the class more visibility on Skillshare, making it easier for others to find and enjoy it. Make sure to post your picture book characters in the project section of this class. I'll see you next time.