Cartoonify Yourself: Turn a Photo into a Cartoon Character! | SP Van der Merwe | Skillshare

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Cartoonify Yourself: Turn a Photo into a Cartoon Character!

teacher avatar SP Van der Merwe, Illustrator & Cartoonist

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.

      01 - Intro


    • 2.

      02 - Equipment


    • 3.

      03 - The Photo


    • 4.

      04 - Gesture


    • 5.

      05 - Cartoon Proportions


    • 6.

      06 - Rough Sketch


    • 7.

      07 - Structure


    • 8.

      08 - Linework


    • 9.

      09 - Color


    • 10.

      10 - Shading


    • 11.

      11 - Extra Credit


    • 12.

      12 - Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Ever wondered what it would be like if you were a character in your favourite animated cartoon? Well, wonder no more!!

In this class I will be taking you step by step through my process of creating a cartoon drawing from a photo. That way, you can see how you would look as a cartoon character! You can use any photo you like, it doensn't necessarily have to be one of you!

We will be going from the initial photo, to capturing the gesture, and then modifying it to be more cartoony..

We will then add a rough design sketch over it, and then start working on the structure of the character by using simple shapes. This helps a lot with shading and placing the character in 3D space! We will then move on to linework, which is the longest phase but the most fun! (for me at least... :))

After that, we will slap some color onto this character, add some shading and special fx, post processing and then we're done!! How easy is that?

So join me in class, and let's get Cartooning!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

SP Van der Merwe

Illustrator & Cartoonist



Hello! My name is SP, and welcome to my home here on Skillshare!

I like being silly and drawing pictures, and even though I'm a bit camera shy, I love sharing my knowledge with people.

If you'd like to see what I draw on a more regular basis, you can follow me over at Instagram! 


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Level: Intermediate

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1. 01 - Intro: Hi there. My name is SPF, and welcome to my close on how to cartoon. If I yourself in this close, we will be taking a photo and using it as the base to create a cartoon drawing off ourselves the city of the photo of the better. I've been drawing cartoons for a while now, mostly because I love how they managed to be funny and beautiful at the same time. But also they are super fun to draw. This closes for anyone loves character, cartoons, comics, even wave comics and, of course, drawing. If you want to confident in your drawing abilities or Photoshopped, don't worry. I will be going over a few helpful guidelines to get you started on the right path. But basic Photoshopped knowledge is beneficial. I will also be giving advice on how to follow along with traditional mediums. For the close project, you'll be posting your very on fully rendered cartoon version of yourself, So grab your silly face and join me close 2. 02 - Equipment: In this close, I will be using for a show to draw and color my character. But you can use any free software you want, such as critter, or came. Also, you will need a pressure sensitive stylus and tablet. Drawing with a mouse is not recommended because it is really difficult and you won't get as good result. You also don't have to use digital mediums if you don't want to. I love using fine line a pains and copied markers to do traditional cartoon drawings. But like I said, you can use either traditional or digital full of clothes next that we will be talking about taking the further. 3. 03 - The Photo: to make things easier for ourselves. We are going to base our pose and character design off a photo off course. You don't have to do this. If you have experienced posing characters and cartooning in general, you can just use the photo for clothing or environment. Inspiration for the photo. Try and frame your entire body. You can put the camera on a tripod or get your friend to take a photo of you. Also, try and strike a funny pose or be overly dramatic. The's poses should make for a good cartoon character. And don't just stand around like this. Nobody wants to see a boring character off to have taken and chosen the photo you'll be using for your cartoon. It's time to hit to the next step, which will be drawing the gesture off a character. 4. 04 - Gesture: Now that we have our photo reference, we can start our cartoon drawing. Go ahead and open your fighter in photo shop or whatever software you are using. Or you can print out the photo or keep it on your phone while you draw. Traditionally, I'm going to work on photo shop Standard a four template at 300 dp I just because I might print it. If it turns out nicely, be sure to draw on a new sheet of paper or canvas as we don't want to draw directly over the photo that will reduce the cartoon stylized effect off your character in photo shop. I normally use an capacity brush, and I normally also take a bright color for this face. To start the chase to drawing, draw a line for the shoulders and a line for the hips. Draw on a scale of line through the middle of these two lines, connecting them and drawing the spine. Draw circles for the shoulders and the hips, then draw a circle for the head at the top of the curve, Then draw the arms and the legs as lines. Try me loose as you draw the gesture, drawing The goal is to get the feel of the pose down with just a few lines. This gesture drawing is the rough blueprint off skeleton off your final cartoon drawing. The step might take you a while to get the hang off, and this is actually a whole other skill that takes a long time to perfect doing daily gesture drawings and practicing the drawing. The human figure will help you with this face. As you can see here, I'm striking him strong pose, standing like I've got power coursing through my veins and with a Jace jump trying to capture that. If you want to practice your gesture drawing, our suggest going to sites like quick poses that calm or pose maniacs and doing their timed exercises. If you do these often, you will start seeing a great improvement in your gesture drawing capabilities. Don't worry about trying to make the character too cartoony. Now, as we are just trying to capture the gesture in the next section, we will modify this gesture, drawing to make it more cartoony by adjusting the proportions of the arms in the head and the legs and everything. If you want, you can draw a rough gesture over your photo after you have drawn your gesture, drawing to see how close you were. You don't have to do this. I just know sometimes like to do this face to see how far was out and whether I managed to capture the gesture effectively. I'm pretty happy with how this gesture turned out, and now it's time to move on to the next phase, which is cartoon proportions. 5. 05 - Cartoon Proportions: Now that we have our gesture drawing done, we can play around with the proportions to make it more cartoony. In photo shop, drag the gesture drawing layer onto the layer icon to create a duplicate Hi, the original layer as this will be out back up, depending on the style you are going for. Your design choices might differ from what I'm going to demonstrate here, using the lesser to drag and select areas of the character you would like to modify right, click and choose free, transform or hit command or control. T Move the body parts around also using the transform tools like rotate and war, to name a few. As you can see, I like to extend the arms, make them a bit thinner, make the overall torso and waist a bit small and crunched up and enlarge the head. Play around with the lesser to in the shapes and remember not to be too sentimental with this process. We made a backup if at some point you feel that you have lost your way just to lead the layer and start over by copying the gesture layer again. If you're working traditionally, draw and erase softly over your gesture, drawing when adjusting proportions. You can even use a light to H pencil to make a racing easier or a light box and an extra piece of paper when you are satisfied with your modified cartoon drawing. What I like to do is compare this to the original Chester, drawing just to see if it is too similar and whether I should put more time into this growing to make it more cartoony. So when you're finally satisfied, it's time to move on to create a rough sketch over the top of this. 6. 06 - Rough Sketch: without gesture. Drawing done, we could start exploring the design off our character. Create a new layer on top of your gesture, drawing reduced capacity over the gesture layer to about 50% if you're working to, additionally, lightly erase the Jess Jess kitsch. I'm using a black color with my brush. Say to pressure sensitive flow. Go ahead and draw the character over your gesture, drawing following the lines that you have drawn. I'm trying to be loose and relaxed while figuring out the design. Rather than focusing in on the details, I tried to place his face on the head and try to figure out how his expression will look. I like to overexaggerate expressions in my cartoons, but you can go wild here. You can reduce the face size. You're gonna make small eyes. The options are endless. This face is all about figuring out how the joints and the parts of your character come together. It's also where you figure out what, how to dress your character and how to give him or her features that will make them recognizable and stand out for me. I like to give my character a moustache and a big fringe off hair hanging of his for it. I also try to figure out how this drawing will be funny or what will make it interesting to look at. Sometimes just making the nose bigger or adjusting the eye placement can really change the feel of the character. Here. I see that the hands are a bit too big and that the silhouette of the character won't read very nicely if I keep his hand overlapping his hair. So what I do is I use the lesser to to make a selection, and I modify this hand to help improve the Silla weight off the character. Remember to not keep your reference photo next to you all the time like I did in the beginning here, as you might draw from it too much and lose a feel off your character, refer back to it every now and then when you feel you need to refresh your mind. But don't keep it there. Once again, don't be afraid to erase and modify and transform parts of her character here. This is the rough sketch face. This is where you're refining the blueprint off your character. Sometimes it's a good idea to flip the drawing horizontally to get a new field off your character in the post as well as the silhouette. This also normally gives you a fresh perspective on your drawing, and you will more easily see if something is out of place. Also, try not to zoom into much except that parts that you really need to dial into the layout or the structure of the anatomy, like the feet or the hands. Normally, I need to zoom in a bit just to figure out how it works. I'm continuing with the drawing, trying to figure out what's going on with my character here. I'm taking a red color brush and I'm highlighting the negative space in my drawing off made sure that his hands that overlap with his head and that there's enough negatives spice to convey the pose off the character. When you are done, you should have a rough drawing of a character which more closely represents the final design you're going for. Don't worry about things that night seem out of place or not right in perspective. We're going to finish that in the structure phase, which is next 7. 07 - Structure: now that are rough sketch has been figured out. It's time to make a drawing feel a bit more three dimensional. Create a new layer on top of your rough sketch layer and reduce the opacity off the rough sketch layer once again to about 50%. You can hide the gesture, drawing using basic shapes such as a sphere for the head and a box for the chaste and waste . You can try and figure out how your character will fit into three D space. You can also use the Linda's for the arms and legs and spheres for the joints, like the rest, elbows and shoulders and knees, if you'd like. Remember to think of these shapes as three D objects in space, as this will help your drawing few more realistic and also assist with the shading pot, which we will be doing later on. Another helpful trick is to draw contour lines along the shapes like I'm doing year tell. Place them in three D space. After you have completed the structure of the drawing, you should have figured that looks like there's wooden mannequins you always see in our troops. Well done. Now it's time to move on to the next phase, which is 8. 08 - Linework: Finally, we can start with my favorite phase the line work fates, or some people might call it the inking face. Once again, create a new layer and reduce the A pass ity off the layer below. You can drastically reduce the opacity off the structure layer and raise their capacity off the rough sketch layer. Now, depending on the legal, going for your choices might once again deaf ear from mine. If you're looking to animate a character later on, I'd suggest using a brush with the shape dynamics turned off to get a constant line with. If you are going to be animating you, can you shave dynamics for more varying line with? Just press the button over a year to ensure shape dynamics is turned on or chicken in the brush settings window. You can even use a textured brush for a more traditional feel. It is entirely up to you, all right, so let's start inking. This face is about smooth and confident lines. If you find yourself struggling to draw smooth lines first, go ahead and watch my free clothes on, have improve your drawing accuracy and then come back to this part of the clause. If you're still struggling to draw confident Incan lines, you can use the smoothing to in Photoshopped versions 2018 and above. This simulator ink brush being pulled along by a string and will help you get a smoother line. But it is a bit tricky to master at first. As you can see, the footage is spit up and I'm zooming in quite a lot because I would like to make sure my lines connect nicely and that that they are smooth. If you still find yourself struggling with smooth lines, especially on lines that are very long, you can use the pain to just select a few points along the curve. Use the white arrow to to adjust the points. Switch back to the brush to and hit. Enter for trouble, then apply the brush you are using on the brush to to the pain path you made. Select the pain to again right, click on the path and choose Delete Paul. If you now have a smooth brushstroke done with the pain, too, remember to rotate the canvas when making longer lines. This will help you create a more even stroke with your pain on the tablet if you're doing it. Traditionally, this is also a very handy trick to wrote at the page around. When inking, you can also add interest to your image by adding line with parts that overlap or where they would be in shadow. This will help add subtle depth to your drawing. Now you can see I'm doing one of the hands and I'm doing the feta. So while we are here, let's talk about a quick overview of how to draw hands and feet. I like to start off with a simple wage shape. The hand pose here will sort of be an open hand, and I'd like to add a wage or piece here for the thumb with cartoon hands there on a lot of joints. It's sort of just these little sausages, but it also depends on what style you're going for. You can't go super realistic or you can go cartoony. Then normally I always forget. This gap here is sort of a little gap between the thumb and palm from the base. Off this wedge I started draw the fingers. Always remember. The index finger is pretty long, but the middle finger is always longer and then the ring finger is more or less the same length as the index finger. Let's not forget about the pinky almost coming at the lost joint off the ring finger, the top of the pinky do a cavity in here for the bottom of the palm, where the wall meets the rest. But just hold control and move the layer contents. Here. Palm just comes up from sometimes ever more to the pinky side. So let's try one more hand. I'd like to start with the thumb and forefinger meet, bringing up the one joint day and in the knuckles. Yeah, bringing her around and down, you raise a bit the knuckle over the middle fingers a bit bigger. I don't like them to straight and it looks a bit too unnatural. Like to give them all these lines of little bit of a slide bend. Not super square angles everywhere, thickening the fingers, thinning the fingers on. Then this. Just add a nice little wrist that should about do it. Obviously, the Maura and you draw, the better you will get. All right, so let's try during some feet. So I normally like to start with the leg from the top little ankle over here and then slope down for the bridge. The yield comes out from the ankle every day, bringing it back in and then back out around. Yeah, big terrorist, normally where I start. But it's the easiest for me. Little point day for the mail. Time for the smaller little toes. Maybe try. Just do a guiding our KVI so your toes don't go out like this. Overlap with each other. It's getting a bit confusing, and I see that my shapes orbit out. This is normally a tricky part for me. That's pinky toe part, sort of bringing them back towards the big toe, and the one toe can maybe be hidden behind the big toe. That's about it. Very basic foot cartoon sometimes have hands with four toes or four fingers, but for me, I like to put in all five. Let's try one more, so this time I'm going to start with. The underside of the foot may be turning around some toes to make it more interesting. Ball of the foot of a year. It looks a bit wonky but well sorted out. The yield. The remember the overlapping lines because we're sort of looking back at the lake going into the rear off the page. So remember, the ankle of the year can sort of draw the underside of the foot like a little footprint. Sometimes you just have to raise a whole part before you can sort of figure it out. All right, this is about good enough for me. Remember, it's a cartoon. It doesn't have to be 100% realistic again. I'm not using any reference, which is normally not a good thing. If you find yourself doing a trick it post like this, definitely get some reference or take a photo of your own foot. Remember to use the underlying structure drawing that we did along with the rough sketch drawing to guide your inking lines. Use the contour lines also that you drew on the structure, drawing to help you place the forms in three D space. Once again, this footage is quite severely spit up because it did take me a while to draw. At one point, I also realized that his arms were a bit too thick, so I erased them and made them thinner. I did this because the thin arms were part of my original idea in the cartoon proportion face. I also did the same for the legs because they also felt a bit too masculine and not cartoony enough for my liking. When I'm near to the end of the drawing, I like to go around an outline, certain sections to make their lines of a thicker. This helps the character and the lines pop out of it more. Finally, I flip the image again, and here I see that his chin is a bit too flat for my liking. So I erase it and I draw anyone. Finally, with all our hard work and time spent on this line drawing, it's really to take to the next phase, which is coloring. 9. 09 - Color: Finally, we can start coloring in photo shop. Make sure you have the line drawing left selected. Switch the layer, blaming mode to multiply, then using the magic. Want to select the area outside of the line drawing. Invert the selection by pressing shift control. I then go to select modify contract. I usually use about two pixels here, then create a new folder and name it color with a folder selected. Press the mosque icon. That's this little circle inside a rectangle. You have now created a group mosque. If you now go ahead and create layers inside this folder, they will be mosque and stay within lines before we jump into coloring over, we need to decide on our color palette. You can choose a pre determined color palette from sites like a Durga color or coolers that come or we can just go ahead and eyedropper select colors from our photo. It's normally better to use a color palette, but I'm just going toe eyeball the colors. Color is a very wide ranging topic, and I'd suggest if you don't know which colors to use, go for a predetermined color palette. Now choose the skin color and full an entire layer inside the color folder, then create a new layer on top of that one. Select your line there again and using the one to select in a row you would like to fool with color. I'm going with a hair. Expand the selection by going to select. Modify. Expand again. I use about two pixels. Then select the new layer you created above the skin layer and using the bucketful to fill the layer. You can repeat this process using the same layer or multiple layers to for the rest of your character with flat colors. I normally only fill the larger areas with this technique, like the hair and the shirt. And then I manually paint in the other flat colors. If you feel some of the colors aren't working, select the layer in question and praise control you or hated image adjustments, hue and saturation. Play around with these sliders until you get the color you want. Here you can see an air that the mask has not excluded. When we did our Magic 12 selection to fix this, select the black and white mask icon on the folder in your layer stack choose a black color and with your brush, paint out the area that you want to exclude from the mask just to test it out. I'm going to paint over the area that we just excluded. And, as you can see, it works. After you are done, you should have your character flat to colored and ready to be shaded. 10. 10 - Shading: Now it's time to give you a character, some death. Now you don't have to do this face if you're going for a very basic cartoon drawing style. But I like to do it as it gives my character. Moreover, a realistic field. Great. A new layer holding an adult. The mouse cursor will change to a square with a narrow if you ever between the layers name and cheddar and switch it to multiply. Also reduced the A pass ity off the shadow layer to about 70%. Don't worry. If you didn't get that, we will be going through it again soon. Now, if you paint, you will see that the paint is restricted to the color off the layer beneath it. Now you can just select the flat color here or any other darker color for this step. It helps a lot to imagine a light source coming from a certain direction. Take another gander at your reference photo. Where's the light coming from? Mine isn't really coming from anywhere, as it was a very cloudy day, but I'm still imagining the light coming from above. Do the left and slightly in front of me, so I'm going to do the same for my character now, thinking about my light source and my general style choices, I shave the skin on the face. If you don't know where to put the shadows, go and look at how some other cartoonists have done it. You can go on sites like whip tune dot com to view many, many cartoons using the same principle. I will shave the rest of my character all the while thinking of the light and how it would react to the structure of the character. Try to think of the shapes we drew earlier and how the light would fall on them. If this face is still difficult for you, don't worry. This takes time to learn. Art exercises like Still lives will greatly help improve with your shading, so I'd recommend doing few of them. If you have the time, let's go through a quick example off how clipping mosques work here have a basically circle on a layer, and I'm going to create a new layer holding down out on windows or option on the Mac. The curse Attention. Do this little square with an arrow pointing down when you hold your cursor between the two layers. Press it and the layer will have turned into a clipping mosque. Now, anything you draw on the layer will be clipped to the layer underneath it. Let's try that again. Great. A new layer, but this time, right click on the layer and select. Create clipping mosque. You can keep on doing this with all layers above the larry Want to clip. So once again, you can hold in old press, and now the bottom layer will be clipped and the top layer will be clipped. Israel. Let's move on to the highlights once again, creating new layer above and name in the highlights. Now, using a lighter color like a de saturated orange, go over your character and highlight some of the areas. Don't go overboard with the highlights. Just add them here and there, especially on things that are shiny and round well done on shedding a character. You can go ahead and post your character to the close project page now if you want, but stay tuned for the extra created section. We will be adding some special effects to a character and give them some more possess 11. 11 - Extra Credit: Let's make our character drawing more interesting by adding some effects and the background for the background. I'm just going to make a simple radio Grady Int. Choose the Grady and option from under the paint pocket icon and then choose the top of radiant something between the foreground and the background colors. Then choose radio, add a new layer underneath everything and drag the cursor out from the middle to the outer age of your drawing. Next created layer above the great Aunt Layer. This will be our ground shadow layer just to give our character a sense of placement in the drawing changed the letter to multiply mode and choose a medium grey tone as well as a soft airbrush. Just fill in the space underneath the character and play with the opacity off the ground shadow layer until you have something that is not too overpowering. You can also take a softy racer and gently pushed back the shadow. Do not make it stand out as much. It just needs to be a subtle hint off placement for our character, a soft cheddar. Remember, resume out and view your character from afar to make sure that everything is in balance. Next, I want to add some sparkles and stars to the image. I'm just going to add a layer on top of everything and draw them in. Now you can really draw anything here you want. You can draw stars. You can draw emoticons. You can draw cat faces. You can draw anything. It is limitless. I'm just using stores because I like them. As you can see, I'm taking a light yellow ah color that will work nicely with the blue. Gray didn't in the background, and then I'm duplicating the left. Using the free Transform two or command or control T. I move the contents of this layer over to the side and make some adjustments to not have to repaint every single store. I'm also remembering to use tools like warp and distort. To change this shape off each of the stars, remember to also change up the scale and placed them at seemingly random points in your image. Don't ever do it as they are just an accent off the final drawing. The main focus should still be your character. Lastly, let's quickly add some post processing to in our entire image first make sure all of your layers are under one main folder. They drag that folded down to the new layer button to create a duplicate. Then select this new folder and praise control E to merge it into one single there, make a duplicate off it by dragging it down to the layer icon. Then select the visible merged layer and go to image adjustments. Levels bring the shadows down and the harlots up a bit like this. This boosts the contrast of the image. You can also go to image adjustments, U N saturation and just the color off the entire image. Finally hate to file export quick export as PNG and exported. Do somewhere on your computer. You can now upload your image, the project page, so we can all see what you did. Please join me in the next video to talk about some of the things regarding cartooning and next steps 12. 12 - Final Thoughts: well done on completing this close and making a cartoon version of yourself. As you would have noticed in this clause, making a cartoon version of yourself is a little bit more complicated than it seems. You have to think about things like color shading, composition, negative space, things that you normally learn and apply in art school or in more traditional. But for me, that's what actually makes comics and cartoons so great you have to drum down and dilute these central and difficult art skills to make something readable and enjoyable for your audience. Every great comin out the is made with care and effort, and every scene oppose guardian characters in has been thought through by the artist, and they've applied skills they have learned from a traditional art side. But okay, that's enough philosophy for now. Remember to go ahead and post Teoh cartoon to the Project gallery so we can all see what silly things we drew. Thank you so much for joining me in this close, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed making it. That's it from my side, and I look forward to seeing your cartoons and comics spread out over the vast range off the Internet. Goodbye