Illustration Academy: Creating an Animal-Inspired Character | Judy Koot | Skillshare

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Illustration Academy: Creating an Animal-Inspired Character

teacher avatar Judy Koot, Multidisciplinary Artist & Teacher

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Tools & Materials


    • 3.

      Creating an Inspiration Board


    • 4.

      DE I: Skeleton Basics


    • 5.

      DE II: Animal-Inspired Skeletons


    • 6.

      DE III: Movement Basics


    • 7.

      DE IV: Animal-Inspired Movement


    • 8.

      DE V: Animal-Inspired Characteristics


    • 9.

      Putting It All Together


    • 10.

      Adding Details


    • 11.

      Creating Your Final Drawing


    • 12.

      Extra Character Demo I


    • 13.

      Extra Character Demo II


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About This Class

Join Judy Koot in this hands-on illustration class on how to create a black-and-white, animal-inspired character in your own style, through an easy step-by-step method.
The only things you'll need are a few basic tools like pencils and paper.

Class Level
This class is suitable for both beginners and advanced students.
Beginners will learn how to develop and draw a character through practical examples and clear step-by-step instructions.
Advanced students will take away new tips and tricks to sharpen their drawing and character design skills.

End Results
By the end of this class, you'll have a black-and-white character you can leave as is, or enhance, ink, and/or color with your favorite tools and methods.
You'll also have a new skillset that enables you to create an unlimited amount of strong, unique characters in the future.

Other Classes in This Series
If you enjoyed this class, check out Judy's other class in the Illustration Academy Series, Illustration Academy: Creating a Charming Character.

Video background music by © Mockmoon, used with permission.


Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Judy Koot

Multidisciplinary Artist & Teacher


Judy Koot is a multidisciplinary artist and teacher based in the Netherlands. 

She has been drawing since she was two, studied Illustrative Design at the HKU University of the Arts Utrecht, and interned as a writer, poet and illustrator at renowned Dutch children's book publisher Ploegsma in Amsterdam.

Her work ranges from whimsical to mythical, oftentimes featuring dreamy characters, inspirational texts, and bold colors.

Connect on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest -- she'd love to hear from you!
Find her illustrated goods on and

See full profile

Level: All Levels

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1. Intro: Hi, everyone. Welcome to illustration gatame creating an animal inspired character In this class, you will learn how to design and draw a black and white character inspired by an animal of your choice. For this, you only need a few basic tools, like pencils and paper. My name is Judy Coats, and I'm a multi disciplinary artist and teacher based in the middle innings. In this class, you will learn how to build a character from the ground up through Siri's off, step by step drawing exercises, he will learn how to build an animal inspired skeleton, how to create animal inspired movement and how to add animals by its directory. Six. Then we're going to boot. It'll to get her create a sketch and final drawing. So come and join me in my class and let's get started. 2. Tools & Materials: Let's talk about tools and materials. First, you will need some basic sketching paper. I'll just use paper from my printer. You also need some good wrong paper. I use Hannah Mula 140 grams. Drawing paper would have slightly do the texture, the do thier or rougher to texture. Too rough for your pencil lines will be and smoother to texture, the smoother or cleaner. Your lines will be also the color of my papers and natural wife, but you can also use the stark white or in off white. You will also need some basic drawing pencils. I use a B pins on the to be pencil, but you can use a normal HB pencil where you can use software, pencils and darker pencils like four B or six B pencils or whatever your personal preferences. If you'd like to know more about drawing paper and drawing pencils, you can always take a look at the notes on the timeline. You also need a pencil sharpener and or unordinary. Hold the knife to sharpen your pencils with. You'll also need an eraser. And personally, I also use a piece off black fell to put my hand on as not this much my drawing, but you can also use a piece of cardboard or paper for that. I also like to use a piece of cloth and a soft brush to remove a razor to Bree with, because if I do that on my hands, it tends. It's much my drawing, and this is just a nine used makeup bar side lying around. But you can also use a soft paintbrush or whatever soft brushes you have lying around and less. But at least you will need a computer with an Internet connection, and this can be a phone or tablet or a laptop, just something you can create a digital inspiration board on. Now let's get started. 3. Creating an Inspiration Board: first, we'll start by picking an animal. I've picked a bet and I would recommend to pick an animal. You're not that familiar weight. So you can really surprise yourself. So don't pick a cat just because she love cats and you have a cat and you always draw cats . Just pick something you're not that familiar with. So I'm starting a Google search. Um, just by topic in bets. And here you can see, I get all kinds of pictures and I just collect the ones of front Interesting. Like this one with really weird hair. If you collect pictures at recommend to collect pictures off the whole animal off the animal in action and off close ups and also other kinds of pictures you find interesting and also read something about your animal because it might give you some extra inspiration . So I find the skeleton very interesting. So I will be putting that on my inspiration board. I've created an inspiration, boredom, been interests, which is a very handy websites on which you can collect pictures from all over the Internet . But you can also do then a folder on your desktop or use any other website you like or until you like to collect pictures with, um, I would also recommend to pick a real animal and not a fantasy animals. So don't take a dragon or Phoenix or whatever fantasy animal, but big something real and also pick riel photos. So don't speak drawings off the animal drawings with other people that but pick riel photos off the real animal. Because there's so much inspiration to draw from straight from the source. Well, now that's good started with the drawing exercises. 4. DE I: Skeleton Basics: in his first wrong exercise, we're going to create basic skeletons by using basic geometrical shapes. So here I'm drawing a triangle square, a circle, a rectangle, an oval and then somewhat more complicated geometrical shapes like a trip easy, Um, and half a circle. So now I try to combine the separates geometrical shapes to create your basic skeleton. So here, combining a triangle in a rectangle and I'm drawn basic lines for arms and legs, a circle, the triangle and again, basic lines for arms and legs, a square, an oval and lines for arms and legs. So just tried to combine, separate to medical shapes and see what you can come up with. So here I am wrong. Ah, half circle a trapeze, him and again, basic lines for arms and legs. 5. DE II: Animal-Inspired Skeletons: in the second exercise, we're going to draw animal inspired skeletons. Now take your inspiration board and pick a picture of your animal. So here, opening up a picture of my bet, and I'm going to analyze the basic geometrical shapes this animal consists off. So it's almost like a Rexel, but don't exactly. I'm also going to do the head, and you don't have to do exactly ah, what the animal is built like you're just going to do like these global basic shapes. I've opened up another picture kun's. I'm going to analyze that. This looks like a triangular shape with triangular shaped years. So again, I'm not going to do a very exact drawing off the animal. Just analyze it and draw some basic shapes. Here I have a note Iran, and this one, I think, has a bit over the oval shape going on. So we drawing this oval shape and a head is a bit wrong as well, with the years now, still got to tell it at my side, even though you can see it on the screen right now, and I'm going to analyze a couple of other pictures. So the picture my I'm looking at right now has a triangular shape going on and an oval shape, and another picture has a triangular shape and this, well, almost like a diamond shaped door. So going on. So pick a few photos off your animal analysed, um, and creates some basic and once by its skeletons. 6. DE III: Movement Basics: and this wrong exercise, we're going to practice movement basics. First, let's start with a little introduction to So what sing here? I'm going to draw a basic character with its limbs crossing in front, off its body and here on the rights. I'm going to draw character. What? It's names free from the body, so not crossing. And this is called still waiting. So what? We don't want his to have names crossing in front of the door. So and what we do want is to have the names free from the total. This will create a strong, Uncluttered silhouettes or character. Let's start wrong movement. So we start with a basic skeleton consisting off a square and rectangle, and we're only going to tilt the head. So hair my I'm going to tell it to the left. And here I'm going to tilt to the right, and here I'm going to slightly moved ahead to the left and tilted a bit. Now focus on the door show and try to move it in different directions. Here, I'm going to tilt it to the left unless you can see this already gives a real sense of movement. And now I'm going to tells us horizontally on. Just keep the head in the same place for this part off the exercise. Just focus on the torso, and here I'm going to tilted to the right and again, I don't do anything special with the head. So just by tilting only the head or only the torso, you can create different a senses of movement. No, we're going to combined to Tora, go to tilt the torso and we're go to tilt the head. So try experimenting with that. And I don't do anything special with the limbs at this point, just the torso and had So here. I'm going to tell the torture to Gerets until the head did you write as well. Now we're going to keep the head and the torso still and move around the limbs. You can move them around in all different kinds of directions and create another sense off energy and expression so it will look like your character is waving or dancing or jumping around or playing. It's just fun to try experimenting with the limps. Now we're going to do all those things we did before and something extra so we're going to move until the head the torso and move the limbs in different directions, and we're also going to bend the torso and band the limbs to create extra movement and energy. So try to experiment with all these things, and you're willing away to create characters in whatever poses you want and with whatever sense of movement and energy you want. 7. DE IV: Animal-Inspired Movement : in this drawing exercise were going to create animal inspired movements. Start by creating a mind map off the way your animal moves. So what do you know about your animal? I know that my animal doesn't stand straight up and he doesn't walk around, so I'm going to just sit down here. I also know that my animal hangs upside down and that it flies around, so create a little mind map off the way your animal moves around. Let's start sketching, even though you can't see it right now, I have my tablets open at the side. I've opened my inspiration board just to get inspiration from the way my animal moves. So on my inspiration board, I have some pictures off my animal in action. So here I'm sketch ings, some basic skeletons, a movement on DFLers eyeing around like a bet would when I take a look at my inspiration board. Um, I've also collected a few pictures off my bed hanging upside down, so I'm just going to take those pictures and draw some inspiration from them. So here I'm going to draw. I'm not her, but and it's about that does hang upside down but it's do some stuff. I've also got this picture of bats hanging from a branch, and they do this hanging in all different kinds of ways, So I'm going to draw some inspiration from that. So here I'm doing another one. To recap this lesson, create a little mind map off the way your animal moves and then do some sketches would help off your inspiration board. 8. DE V: Animal-Inspired Characteristics: in this drawing exercise were going to draw animal inspires characteristics. So take your inspiration board and look at details that are very specific to your animal. For example, here off picked some bat wings because they are very specific to my animal, and I've drawn a pair of bat wings that look reasonably like the original bad wings and some simplified bat wings. And here I have a picture of a close up off the Bets head, and it's got a gigantic hair show. I'm going to draw those ears, and then I'm going to draw a even more simplified ah, sketch of those years. So we're not going to draw very realistic details. But we're going to do simplified version or interpretation off those details. Now I'm going to take a look at the texture on the bat wings on bets for re torso, and I'm go to use it as a source of inspiration for bettors. And as you can see, I'm just I'm not doing him a realistic drawing. I just let parts off the drawing, inspire me and then do some very simplified bet earns. So here, doing, I'm not a simplified better this wall Here's a picture off that weird hair going on, and I'm just going to do some simple hair and again, some interpretation off that punk like hair. Here's a picture of her, uh, bad skeleton, and I'm not going to do skeleton, but I'm going to let the teeth inspire me. So you hear you have a basic set of teeth and here's another picture with teeth going on, and I'm going to do a simplified picture of drawing of that. Here. We have another picture with dese, and I'm going to do yet another drawing off simplified teeth to recap, take your inspiration board and start wrong details and don't do it in a realistic manner, but do it in a simplified manner. So it's all about letting those details inspire you 9. Putting It All Together: and this lesson, we're going to put it all together. So take out all the sketches you did during the drawing exercises and just browse through them and mark the things that stand out or that you find most interesting. So here I have my draw exercises, and this is the drawing exercise where we did movement and I like a really like the ones that are flying around. And here we have animals by details or correct ary states, and I like the teeth, and I really like the punk hair, so that will absolutely go into one off my drawings. When you're done with browsing through your sketches, take new piece of drawing paper and start sketching characters inspired by your drawing exercises, even though you can see it. Right now, I have my sketches lying in front of me on my table so I can look at them and draw direct inspiration from them so you could do the same and use your drawing exercises as direct reference material. So here I am, drawing a few figures that are flying around in the air. I've added some bad wings off, edit some ears and the left character has the teeth and a bunker going on, which I wanted to have in my drawing while here's another one and flights and I'm going to draw another figure in flight. And again, what? The bet? Wings. So to recap this lesson, get her all your drawing exercises, browse through them and start wrong characters with all the elements you'd really like to see. 10. Adding Details: and this lesson, we're going to add details to our characters. Catches. So pick one off your characters and you can always do more characters later and start adding details. I'll start by adding details to the face. So adding some teeth and some other facial features like this and I'm also going to add some clothing like bans and details like shoes. At this point, I'm not really thinking about it. I'm just adding details I think are fun. So do T shirt and I'm also going to flesh out the arms because they're just lines at this point. So just do what you like, which your characters. And here I'm adding some patterns. And again I have my drawing exercises right in front of me. So a control direct inspiration from them, and here I'm going to draw the punk hair. Also, when you notice that some details work better than others, just use her a razor and draw new details. I think the long hair works great, but it doesn't work with the gigantic air, so I'm getting rid of those. So start adding details by fleshing out your character, adding facial features and hair at gloating at animal correct heuristics if you haven't done so already. And, of course, usual Racer. If you go like something, also pattern would be nice, especially when it's animal inspired. And what I also like to do issues black and whites to create more interesting look. So I've darkened the bands. The bet earns the bed wings and also the punk air to create an overall, more balanced and far more interesting look. If you'd like to know what inspiration it took from the bet you can see tried here the torso shape, even though it looks like a regular human torso. But some of those bets really had broad shoulders. So there's that. The flight, the bat wings, the bunk hair, which I couldn't have done without doing research ears, of course, the teeth and the better known shirt. So start adding details to your character sketch or character sketches. If you'd like to do more and I'll see you in the next lesson, 11. Creating Your Final Drawing: in this lesson, we're going to create our final drawing, so get your sketch from the lost lesson and start drawing a light outline on high quality drawing paper. I'll be using a B pencil for that, but you can also use an HB pencil or any Bensel of your preference. So start by drawing a light outline and then refine the lines and make them darker. And I use my razor not as in the razor two per se, but more like drawing, too. So I'm shaping the lines with my razor, and now I'm going to fill parts off my drawing with a nice black color and I'll be using my to be pencil four death. And it's a darker software pencil that gives the love the dark gray. You can also use a four B pencil or any really software dark pencil. The disadvantage is that it's much is more easily so. I'll be using a piece of felt to prevent my hand from smudging the drawing, but you can also use a piece of paper or a piece of cardboard for death to create a nice black. I work with small strokes and circle emotions and I also work in layers, so keep repeating my strokes. And again I'm using my pressure to shape my drawing, and I use a soft brush or piece of cloth to get rid off the razor debris. If you want an even darker color, you can use a softer Bensel. So I think to be has, ah, nice dark color already. But you can also use a freebie or four B or five B or really dark colors like six being higher. I'm going to fill the triangles hoop like a swell and arm cuffs the wings. And as you can see, I've alternated black and wise. So why choose black bands? White shirt of like wings, white face, black hair and so on to create an overall balance look? And I actually always work from lights too dark. So I started with a light outline in a light pencil, like a bee penso or an HB pencil. And then I pick a darker software pencil and start drawing the lines and filling the character and details I say for last. So I work from light to dark and from big to small. So here's my final drawing after this lesson. There are some bonus lessons with extra characters I did and some nice music my brother made. So I hope you enjoyed it on that you will share your projects. I hope you've enjoyed this class and I'm looking forward to your projects. 12. Extra Character Demo I: 13. Extra Character Demo II: