Building Character 3: Bring Your Character to Life With Color | Jesse LeDoux | Skillshare

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Building Character 3: Bring Your Character to Life With Color

teacher avatar Jesse LeDoux, Illustrator, Artist, Designer

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.

      Approaching Color


    • 3.



    • 4.



    • 5.

      Creating Texture


    • 6.

      Applying Texture


    • 7.



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About This Class

This is the third class in the 3-part 'Building Character' series on creating a unique character! Join artist Jesse LeDoux — former Art Director of Sub Pop Records and character designer for Disney, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network — as he colors the character he created in Building Character 1. This 28-minute class will open your mind to endless possibilities as you'll explore Jesse's style and watch him create a character.

You should take this class if you're interested in character design and exploring the inner depths of your imagination. Designers, artists, and illustrators of all skill levels welcome. By the end, you'll be ready to color and share your own unique character with the class for feedback, inspiration, and encouragement from fellow illustrators! 

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Jesse LeDoux

Illustrator, Artist, Designer


Born in Portland, Oregon, Jesse LeDoux worked for many years as an art director for Seattle-based Sub Pop Records where he created iconic album and poster artwork for such artists as the Shins ('Best album packaging' Grammy nominee for Chutes Too Narrow), Iron and Wine and Death Cab for Cutie before leaving in 2004 to focus on his client-based and personal work at LeDouxville.

Parallel to working on commercial illustration and collaborative projects for such clients as Starbucks, Nike, Disney, Giro, Rapha, Penguin UK and Target, he has exhibited internationally. His work was included in the Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial (2007), an installation at the University of Maryland (2008), and has work in the permanent collection of the Experience Music Project (Seattle, WA), R... See full profile

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1. Intro: Hi. My name is Jesse Deloux. I'm a designer and illustrator living in Seattle, Washington. This class is the third in my building character series, and this one is all about color. In the first class, we created a character. The first class was about character design. In the second class, which was about ink, we used both brushes and pens to ink the character. Then in this class, we're going to be talking all about color and ultimately coloring our character. The way I see it is the ink creates the structure. But then the color is what conveys the mood, and changing the color can drastically change the same character from something gloomy to cheery. You can pull these various levers to really get the exact mood that you want out of the character or the piece or whatever it is you're coloring. We'll be focusing primarily on the character that we've been creating through these courses. But the logic in color applies to whatever you decide to color. It could be landscapes or whatever. Our goal for this class will be to look at the character attributes that we had selected in the character design class and make sure that our colors enhance those attributes. If you have taken the previous two courses, then you're in the right spot, and likewise if you have no interest in character design or ink and just want to talk about color, then you're in the right spot also. But if you want to start from the beginning, I suggest starting with the first two courses in the series first. But beyond that, let's enroll and let's get to talking about color. 2. Approaching Color: Before we jump in on coloring our character, I wanted to talk about various approaches to color. First off, starting out with Mary Blair, she was just a master of color. The way she was able to get different moods through color was just phenomenal. She could do something dark and moody with a nice bright sky using some pretty primary colors, doing something cold and frosty with a much more muted color palette, pastels for a more dreamlike feel. If you're not familiar with her work, I highly suggest you get familiar because she's excellent. You could do something just black and white. Sometimes, black and white things have the most power. This is a couple of small little books by Tim Biskup just in black and white, and they're really cool. I think you don't need to add color because they're great as it is. You could go super bright with a somewhat limited color palette like Jay Daniel Wright did in this book. The color palette is pretty limited, but it's really bright, and vibrant, and eye-catching. Is that the route you want to take with how you color your character? This little zine by Megane out of Japan, all of the pages in here are just two colors, and it's pretty cool to see how much you can get away with just two colors. I did these two spreads and it's just two colors, pink and blue. Or do you just go complete full color and just be crazy? This is a book by Christoph Ruckhaberle, and the colors are just fantastic, elaborate, just really vibrant, and yet also summer subdued and moody. I love this image because it's a very classic iconic pose, but her green face just completely changes the piece. Do you do something with a more conventional color palette or do you completely change the color palette? This is something that I would consider more conventional, but then the green face just makes it really cool. There are just a lot of ways that you can go about it, a lot of different approaches. This is a zine by, I think he's from South Africa, Jean de Wet, and a lot of it is just one color. I love this two-color approach to it and just the way he colored it with two colors, it's really cool. There's a ton of different ways that you can approach this. Think about what makes sense with your character and also remembering your character's attributes, and creating something that is appropriate for that. 3. Inspiration: While you're thinking about your color approach, it's also good to have inspiration. I have several boxes in my studio. This one's a cool Tintin box. It's just full of just things that I've thought were cool over the years. This book by Steven Harrington can give you cool ideas as far as color. The spread is especially great; split fountains or limited color palettes or full-color things. These books that I found at some garage sale or something, all of them have a different color. I just love how all of the colors look together. Super inspiring to me. Let's see. Some old pages from a National Geographic magazine. Yeah, it's from National Geographic. Things were just printed. Really cool back then. It's cool just seeing the colors and getting inspired by the colors. Look at the totem pole there. It's so great. You can find inspiration anywhere, not only in printed matter, but just going outside or going to some shop and looking at how things are organized on the shelves type. It's not going to do much for color. It's black and white. Just weird old magazines. Sometimes they're good to keep around. Because you never can tell how things can inspire you. Just keep your eyes open. Here's a zine by Sasha Barr. it's cool stuff. Even though it's not character-based, it still gives you great ideas for color. Maybe your character is a maroon color with orange eyes. It could be as simple as that. Another book by Sasha. I think that just keeping your eyes open and looking at what's around you and being inspired by what's around you. Also, it's helpful when you see something cool, pick it up and stick it in a box, and put it away and forget about it. I forgot I even had this book and it's cool. I'm glad that I have forgotten about it because when I see it again, it's like I'm seeing it for the first time. Take a look at what's around you and get inspired because there's a lot to be inspired by. 4. Coloring: Now that we've been inspired by some great colors, it's ready to get to a coloring on our character. What I've done is I've scanned my image in, I typically scan it in 1,200 DPI and I've placed it into an Illustrator file. I'm using Illustrator CS5, I like how it live traces better, but it really doesn't matter which version you're using. So place your scan file into Illustrator, live trace it, expand it, ungroup it. Once you've ungrouped it, then you can take all the elements and then release compound path. To do that, I control click on the item and then it turns that portion black and you're going to want to select the inside of it and then just start choosing colors. So you go through this process, just coloring your character and just take it piece by piece until you have all of the elements colored. So on something like this, where the path isn't closed. What I do is I select the outside, I copy and then I paste in front and so it looks like nothing has changed, but there's actually two shapes directly on top of each other. I take one of those shapes and then I just draw the inside around, and then it ends up filling it up. I'll want to do that with these two also. So one thing you'll want to make sure is when you release the compound paths that nothing gets lost behind the buttons. So you want to take all of those elements that fell behind the objects and just paste in front. Once you have all the elements colored, then you can take each element and group it. Then, once you have everything grouped, you can go and move them into place. If you need to, you can also scan your original sketch and place the sketch, and then line everything up on top of that, or you can just have all in. So the one tricky spot is right here where the arm both goes in front and in back. So with that, you just have to cheat it. You take the one part and what you can do is you can take this back shape, copy it, and then paste it in front of the shape that you wanted to remove from. Then, only take the section that you want to cut out and you can either block that section out or what I like to do is I like to use that to go into pathfinder and then subtract from that, so it fits properly. So there's your character. The way I came up with these colors was my character attributes again were goofy, exploring, and balance. So I felt like the exploring part was your traditional brown backpack and red sleeping bag. Goofy is a pink sweater, and also I felt like a grain explorer made a lot of sense because he'd probably be out in the forest. Then the balance comes in by having the hat and the boots be the same color. So see you have this balance going on, where you have the one color in the middle and then the greens to either side of that, and then you have the blue and yellow on the top and bottom, so there's the balance. All of my attributes are reflected in this. Once you have everything colored, one thing you can do is take a screen capture and then open it up in Photoshop, which is what we'll do right now. So here we are in Photoshop. You may have had the most perfect color combination, but it's always good to just see what else is out there and a quick way to do that is go to New Adjustment Layer and then Hue/Saturation, and then just play around with the slider and see how things change because you may end up, that's pretty cool and that's not a color combination I would have ever thought to choose, but you can come up with. It's a good quick way of seeing what other options are out there based on. That's really cool, I like that better than what I came up with, and it is even goofier. You can take these colors and go back to Illustrator and tweak the colors from your Illustrator file to match these colors. 5. Creating Texture: All right. We're all done coloring. But as a bonus round, if you decide you want to add a little extra texture and depth, what you can do is go back to your light table, grab a piece of watercolor paper, and glass of water, and a little palette tray, and your ink, and just paint some texture. Make sure you go really light on it though because the India ink, a little goes a long ways on it. You don't have to be super precise about it either because you can always tweak things later as you see fit. All right. That's enough. Now, we go and scan it in and place it back into our digital file. 6. Applying Texture: All right. So we're back in Illustrator. We have scanned our image in. Just a gray scale at 300 DPI should be adequate, and we're ready to place it into the file and finish this thing up. So after you've placed it, just turn it to multiply and then just fit it in how it should go. There you go, we're done. 7. Conclusion: That's it. You're done. I really want to see what you came up with. Upload your colored character to the project gallery and we can all see what you came up with. For those of you who have taken all three of the classes thanks for putting up with me for all three. If you have only watched one or two, thanks for enrolling in those two. Hope you had a good time. Keep drawing.