Characters in Motion: Capturing Motion in Illustration | Patrick Brown | Skillshare

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Characters in Motion: Capturing Motion in Illustration

teacher avatar Patrick Brown, Digital Artist and Hobbyist

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.

      Welcome to class!


    • 3.

      Sketching the body using simple lines and shapes


    • 4.

      Drawing dynamic action poses


    • 5.

      Drawing convincing facial expressions


    • 6.

      Drawing your character in a scene


    • 7.

      Final touches


    • 8.

      A big thank you!


    • 9.

      More Creative Classes on Skillshare


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About This Class

In this class, I will teach you how to sketch and illustrate a character in a scene. From gaming to movies to comic art, my artwork spans medium and is always full of energy and movement, keeping a modern comic art feel.

I will teach you how to execute the finer details of sketching to achieve an understanding of anatomy, the way a body moves in motion, and how lighting and shading work with this style.

What You'll Do

You'll learn to sketch a character in a scene by illustrating your own Super Hero or Super Villain in dynamic action. 

Having a solid drawing underneath your work is essential to creating polished, professional digital art. The process of establishing structure in pencil and sketching the fine details will heighten the quality and depth of your work once you transfer your drawing to Photoshop. 


Class Outline

  • Introduction. Have you ever wanted to draw exciting, dynamic characters whose motion leaps off the page? Let talented illustrator Patrick Brown show you his techniques for capturing motion to create quality drawings that form the basis for professional-looking finished pieces. Having a solid drawing to start from is essential to creating polished digital art and will help to heighten the depth and quality of your work.
  • Sketching the body using simple lines and shapes. Working with nothing more than lines, circles, and a few triangles, Patrick quickly sketches out a character to work with. Using a few simple techniques such as contour drawing, you will sketch a character that is well-balanced and proportional. Quickly find the focus lines of your character to help you orient them on the page and direct the viewer’s eye.
  • Drawing dynamic action poses. Superheroes rarely stand still, and a great pose can give the impression of movement even in a static image. Exaggerated stances and actions give your character the illusion of movement, and with some helpful hints, your heroes will start to take on a life of their own. Patrick gives some tips on how to find the best reference images using Google, as well as how to approach the composition of your drawing in order to create the most interesting poses.
  • Drawing convincing facial expressions. “The face tells the story.” When looking at a character on the page, the viewer should instantly be able to identify their emotional state. Starting with the head and then adding shapes and lines, Patrick imbues his creations with details that make their facial expressions large and unmistakable. He also covers the use of body language and how to make it relate to the emotion being depicted.
  • Drawing your character in a scene. Grid drawing and foreshortening can help create an environment for your character to inhabit. Using the horizon line as a guide, Patrick shows how perspective can be used in scene construction to add an extra element of drama. Dynamic angles and vanishing lines help the viewer orient themselves to your scene, while lines between the characters keep everything flowing in the correct direction. Tricky perspectives are much easier once you know how to find these lines and use them to construct your scene.
  • Final touches. Now that you have your character sketched out, it’s time to start adding details and shading. These little touches add extra dimension to your drawing and give you an opportunity to add a little flair. Keeping a loose style, you’ll learn a few tips on drawing hair as well as how to stylize and exaggerate your character to add excitement to your superhero’s actions. When that’s done, you can then use color theory or color pencil techniques to further enhance your artwork, or take it into Photoshop to create the finished product.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Patrick Brown

Digital Artist and Hobbyist


Patrick has lived in Australia his whole life, and started drawing at the age of 5. By the time he got to college, he learned how to use Photoshop to make his art digital and more dynamic. He has always drawn inspiration from the media: games, movies, and even TV series. If he likes something, he draws it. Most people call him a fan artist, but he likes to think of the media as giving him a reason to draw something so he can improve his work.

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1. Trailer: Hi, I'm Patrick Brown, and very soon I'll be doing video lessons on called characters in motion. In this class, I'll be showing you my methods of illustrating a character in a scene. Starting from the core basics and working right through to the finished details. Having a solid drawing to work with is essential in creating polished and professional, digital art and will help to heighten the quality and depth of your work once you transfer it into software such as Photoshop. Throughout the course, we will work towards illustrating a scene with your own superhero or villain in a dynamic action pose. Here are some of the topics I'll cover. How to sketch a body in motion using shapes and gestures, developing convincing facial expressions, making your character interact with the scene, shading, and final touches. This class is perfect for anyone who wants to understand the basics, to learn how to think like an artist or even just open your eyes to some new techniques or processes. I'm really looking forward to showing you my work flow, and helping you bring your ideas to life. 2. Welcome to class!: Hi. I'm Patrick Brown, and welcome to my class on Skillshare, called Characters In Motion. In this class, I'll be covering everything from the raw basics, using simple write work and shapes to build your character, right through to the final touches, and final details. Having a solid drawing to work with is essential in creating polished professional digital art, and will help to heighten the quality and depth of your work once you transfer it into software such as Photoshop. Throughout the course, we will work towards illustrating a scene with your own superhero or villain, in a dynamic action pose. Here are some of the topics I will cover; how to sketch a body in motion, using shapes and gestures, developing convincing facial expressions, making your character interact with the scene, shading and final touches. I'm absolutely stunned that you've taken this class and have looked through the steps that are planned out, and when you are ready, click, Start Class, to get started and share your work. Don't forget the theme is, superheroes or villains. It could be fine art or your own creation. I'm really looking forward to seeing what you come up with. Good luck. 3. Sketching the body using simple lines and shapes: Okay. In this step, I'm going to be showing you how to draw your character using the raw basics. We're just going to use shapes and lines to form our body. This really helps for when you just want to work on your proportions and how your character's pose will look. It's just very important to do this first before we even work on to any kind of details. Essentially, what we're doing is drawing in the skeleton the core structure of our character. It's important that we have this drawn out first before we flesh them out with muscles. We're not worrying about any kind of details right now. All we're doing is drawing up the shapes to form the parts of the body, will define these as we go. We're just worried about proportion at the moment. We just want to make sure that everything looks correct. As you draw your character, you'll begin to get a sense of how your character is balanced. We need to make sure he's standing upright. You'll usually get this corrected when during the skeleton up. As you do more sketches, you'll get a much better understanding of the gravity in your image. If you are a person who usually draws from a reference image, try to see through the image and envisage the skeleton structure underneath the flesh and start from there. Put some flour into it and give it some movement. We're not looking for accuracy, just really trying to get these shapes roughed out. Coming up with the pose, usually is quite difficult. If you haven't got an idea in your mind, it is always a good idea to just have a look at a few reference images especially if you want to understand anatomy a little bit more. It's just a really help to understand the muscles and where they belong and how everything works. Just going to speed this video up a little. Once I have a structure of my character and I can clearly see where that everything is proportion and that's quite happy with the shapes, I can start to actually put some more details in whether whether muscles would be. Just really gives you a good feeling of what your character is possible look like in the end. So, it's nice to just clean this up a little bit more as we go along. Work on the abdominals and I'll show you a few more clips of some spit up videos of some sketches I did using the same technique. As you can see, again, starting off with just some lines and some quick shapes. Remember, it's always good to just be as messy. Just go absolutely crazy with the pencil. We're not trying for any perfection where we're really just throwing everything together, we just need to make sure that everything is where it needs to be correct. Will go over later on we with the finer details make sure everything is looking good. So, it's good to try different angles as well, I find just without a few more sketches and try and see if you can put a little twist in the body or play around with some different angles. It's nice to have a challenge sometimes and test your skills. I would like to just do this fun and a little details, just makes you feel better about the drawing and moving forward with it. To try again, this one's a bit more of a dynamic pose. I'm going to have a bit more of a twist in this body as if he's turning around and looking the other way. So, you can say again, just go and get some good angle going on another hero pose. Really just roughing it up. Maxwell's proportions are right. 4. Drawing dynamic action poses: In this video, I'll explain how to understand poses and know the best way to use them. When doing poses, I always like to make them more dynamic and exaggerated. So, you can see here, I still use the same technique as I showed in the previous video. We'll need to draw the frame and the shapes that form the body. I'm going to draw a bunch of different action poses here. If you do this and just keep drawing them over and over, you'll eventually get to a point where you can draw these with less thought. It's all about getting a good understanding of what you want. Imagine it in your mind and then spill it out on paper. It doesn't have to be perfect. Keep it messy for now. If you can't think of any kind of pose to draw, start looking for some references. This is where all beginner artists should start. It's great for practice. Just admire the images that you see, and really try and just picture the frame that they hold. Not the actual details. Another good trick when drawing things like this and poses, is keep in mind the negative space around him. Picture him as a silhouette. If you're going to see only the flat image that they hold, it would be like, if the road is blacked out and all you could see was the shape of your character. What works well is being able to see all the parts of his body even if it was a silhouette. With this character here, and he's got his gun pointing down, you can see the jaw line quite well, and the angle of which he's pointing the gun, you can really tell that that's a weapon. Drawing from references is a way you should start when wanting to draw action poses, and characters in action. Sometimes, there are certain poses that we just can't come up with ourselves. You need to see what you want. I found looking through Google Images and searching for almost anything, can really help when practicing to draw gestures. When looking for good reference, think outside the box. These images show a lot of motion and can be used in any way. Here's a good example, let's say I want to draw guy getting attacked by a zombie, but I wanted to be fast-paced, intense action. I'm going to use this image as a reference. I just did a Google search for football tackle. This image has everything I need. I'm looking right through this image and only seeing the core lines and structure. I'll use it as a guide, and I'll come up with something of my own. So, what we're doing is, basically, I'm just looking at the structure of the image and the way he's moving, using it as a guideline and we're just going to really flesh him out at the moment. Still using the same technique as before, I'm just going to really draw the basics. What I'll be doing is drawing just from what I can see, really just drawing the poses. See, I usually find that these kind of poses here, it as difficult to come up with on your own. The camera angle that,you know, it's just all. It can be a bit tricky to accomplish something like this straight from your head. So, it does really help. You actually get a much better image if you have a good reference to go off. Just use your imagination. As I go through these details, you can see that I can really do what I want from here. I can just draw like angrier faces,you know, it can be all the little details. I can put clothing and wrinkles, things like that. I can put a knife in his hand. So, obviously, it's a little bit different than the usual image. Really just got complete freedom now. The zombie, obviously when I draw him, I could draw roughed up torn clothing, some blood splatters coming off him, some flesh. Really, just go absolutely nuts with it. As I speed this up, you'll see that I can really just start removing some of the guidelines now. Throw some hair on him and do some, I mean, this don't have to be the final details. This is just more like little guides signed over with the eyes and the mouth we'll be going. I just loved the movement in this image. It's just the way that he's pulling him down and it's just really intense, and I think it would work really well for a final image. You can just add all these little extra accessories on him, like his little gun holsters, and yeah. So, I think that works really well and we can really come up with something special. So now, I'm going to show you how you can use perspective with a certain pose. We're going for a real dynamic pose here. Something that's just lunging right at you, and obviously, the way he's going to be angled, everything in the top of his body will be more in the foreground. His legs and stuff you can see as I angle down a bit more, they just disappear a bit but further down. If you look closely, I have the guidelines here, where the shoulder line is from side to side. You can see it goes on a slope there. We're going to try and match this with his eyeline and hips, and everything. So, that way we get a good idea of how it should be placed, and how his body should be twisted in. Perspective is really a good one to use when doing action poses. 5. Drawing convincing facial expressions: In this step, I will show you my technique of drawing facial expressions. When you're drawing your character, the majority of it is all structure and movement. All of the muscles and body, and things like that. This is all great, but the face is really what tells a story. It's all in the expression. You need to be able to understand what the character is feeling in the image. Jim Carrey is a great example. He's facial expressions just so exaggerated but everything is real. So, you get to see all the little cracks and muscles and the way they move in each facial expression. So, when you start drawing the head, we have to start really basic. Same technique as we did with the body, and you've just got to do a basic circle for the skull and then I usually just do a few lines to structure the jaw line and chin. Then I'll move on to I just draw eye sockets. I usually find that helps me a lot of the layout of the face. When you're drawing expressions like this smiley face guy really pushes cheeks up he's going to have a massive grin on his face. So, if you observe a person smiling, the cheeks will be pushed up and there eyes will be a bit more squinted because the cheeks are pushing up into their eyes and that is a great way to represent a smile. Show a lot of teeth. Again, I'm exaggerating this one so it really does just add a lot more to the smile. When drawing angry faces, really throw the lines into it. I've tried a different angle here. I thought just to get a lower angle that looks up makes him look a bit more dominating, and the aggression can really be seen from the nose pointing out and the mouth really being pulled down by his jaw that is raging. These are the exaggerations I find work so well and don't be afraid to use extra wrinkles. So, if you're drawing an angry face, think of crows feet that are going to come out the side of his eyes. The little lines and they just roof down a little bit, and especially under the mask because his jaw is being pulled down so much. You'll see around near his chin, the skin is pulled a lot there right under his bottom lip. So, that really is a good way to show some more expression in the anger. Doesn't have to be a wide open mouth full of teeth, you can just do a subtle movement of the mouth that shows a little bit of teeth. You'll usually know the expression that you want before you start drawing, because it's important that you have the body language to go along with it to relate to the facial expressions. So, exaggeration is the key to getting a great image. Something that is full of life and energy. If you can work on expressions enough to make people understand what's going on without a word in the picture, then you're on the right track. Study cartoons even if you're not going for the cartoony look. Observing the facial expressions and reactions that cartoons express really does help. You get a clearer look at what expressions really how they really work. Another surprise look here, and you can see how I've got his jaw. It's like pulling down his all the skin in his face is stretched and you're going to have those lines is the side of his nose that are being pulled down that they really do show that his mouth is just completely open a bit of a scream maybe. The teeth are always a nice touch to these facial expressions really shows a bit of shock. Here, I'm showing a basic structure of the face. You can see what I've done here I've just done circle for the head, but I like to structure the jaw line the most. Here's a good example of a mouth. I could start off with just the most silliest shape, but when you think of it, the teeth are always going to stay in the same place. The only thing that is moving around it are the lips. Because it's all flesh and it can move anyway you like. You just got to remember that the teeth are always going to stay in the one spot. So, you got to work your mouth around the teeth. Same as the smile. Again, when drawing the head, I can do a basic circle, structure the jaw and chin. I like to draw the eye sockets. Try different angles and I could just keep fleshing out my character's face as we go along. 6. Drawing your character in a scene: A lot of people don't like drawing in perspective. Well, that's okay, you don't have to draw a massive detailed background all the time. For this video, we're just going to focus on our characters and how they all fit with the scene. Having an understanding of perspective is very important. Though I suggest every artist to study it a little bit at some point and get an idea of how it works. Because perspective is absolutely crucial to every drawing you ever make. Even if you don't have much of a background, perspective still runs through your characters when drawing them in the scene. Here's a really basic example. Let's focus on the horizon line and use it as a guide. The horizon line is where the sky and the ground meet in the far distance. Depending on where your horizon line is, will determine the angle your image will show. So, if I draw the horizon line high, we will be looking at a downward angle. If it is a low horizon line, we will be looking up from a low angle. Here, I will draw the head, just resting on the horizon line. As I draw the body, it gets a little closer to the lower half of the page. The perspective of his body will change slightly. So, as I get to his feet, that we seen from above a little more. As I begin to draw the second character, I'll place him in the foreground. His head will also rest on the horizon line. But because he's much closer and scaled up a lot more, his body will disappear at the bottom of the page. You'll notice, I haven't even began to draw the perspective gridlines yet. Sometimes, you won't need to. You can just judge it off by eye, just by using the horizon line as a guide. Here, I only have two characters placed, but this gives you a good indication already of the perspective this image holds. Let's use the shoulders as guide. I will draw some lines at the shoulders, and you'll start to see the perspective. Then the rest will come to you from there. Here's another example of a more distant character. He will follow the same perspective. But because he's so far away in the distance, his body will end up being relatively flat anyway. In this next example, I'll go a bit further into detail with the perspective. I'm just going to draw a rough grid by eye. It doesn't have to be perfect. We're just trying to get a rough idea of how our characters will work. So, I'm imagining a vanishing point at the top right corner of the page. This is where all the lines will meet if they're reached. Now, I'm going to draw a square in the center of these lines to show me the floor. I can also draw a few vertical lines here to resemble walls or wall structures. As you can see here, as I draw the head, again, it will match the horizon line. Now that I have one character placed, a boxer or fighter, I better give him an opponent. I will start with the head again, and rest it on the horizon line. But again, because he's closer, he will be scaled up a bit more and its feet will end up further at the bottom of the page. Now that we have two characters placed, it already gives you a good indication of how the same works. This could have as many details in as we like, all following the same perspective. But when drawing like this, you can see that you don't really need to spend a lot of time drawing up perspective grids. Just have fun and play around with scenes like this. It'll make you feel more confident about drawing scenes. When you have something basic like this, you can then move on to the focus lines and precision and really just finish off your picture, and spend a lot more time on all that detail. You can see here, again, I'll match up the shoulder lines along with a few other lines just so you can see how far away they are from each other. It gives a bit more perspective idea there. In this example, I'll show you a very dynamic angle and how it will work with this perspective. I'm going to draw up a quick grid. Imagine this as if the camera is at a very low angle and looking up diagonally towards the sky. I won't be able to draw a horizon line in this example mainly because it can't be seen in such an upward view. I'm not even going to worry about a background here. These grids are just for our characters. The first character is going to be very close in the foreground with his back to us. I'll draw the spine, and have it follow the perspective. The shoulder line will go here at a more sloped angle. It'll make it more dynamic. Then I'll draw the body shapes and structure to show our character. All following the same perspective. When drawing at this angle, always keep in mind that because we're looking upward at a character from a low angle, everything that is higher up, such as the head, will become smaller. Anything close to the camera at the bottom, such as the legs and hips, will become larger. Also, keep in mind the angle that you have your shoulder line. You'll want to match your elbows and the hips with that same kind of angle. So, now, I need to draw the attacker. Also keeping in mind the perspective in angle. I'm going to have this character leaping high for the final blow. Because he's going to be off the ground, he could really have any pose. So, twisted in any way. So, it can be tricky to follow the same perspective. So, here, I'll draw him at relatively straight up angle with a twist. Remember to keep in mind the angle that we're looking at here. Again, everything closes to the camera will be larger. Anything further away will be smaller. These are the kind of poses that really have an impact on the viewer. These kinds of angles can be so eye-catching because it's not so familiar for most people. Give it some practice and you can come up with your own dynamic scene in just a few minutes. In the next video, I'll explain the fine details and polishing of your image. 7. Final touches: In this demo, I'll show you how to do the details and shading. Now that we have our characters positioning and proportion put together using previous steps, it's time to clean everything up and make it look polished. This is the most enjoyable part of the drawing process, I think. It's fun to put all the nice details in and really bring your character to life. As you can see here, I've already got my structure put together using the techniques that you've seen in the previous videos. I've gone with a nice action pose. A good angle and have it feeling very dynamic. I'm going to turn this into wolverine, since we're following the superhero theme and I thought this pose would be perfect for his style; I want him lunging towards us. So as I begin, I'm really just following the shapes I've got and thinking about the muscles. If you have trouble and can't get it right, found some good references and photos and use them as a guide. As you continue to follow the basic form, use your imagination, threading lines into it to make it look more natural. Focus lines can sometimes look a bit stiff. You want to stylize it and make it seem a little bit exaggerated. When drawing the thick outlines, I'd like to start from the outside and work my way in. You can really put some pressure into it. Give them dark outlines, make it seem a bit more solid. When working on the face, I'm going to follow the same technique I showed in Step 3. I really want to give him a great expression. I'm going to make him seem very ferocious and bring those vicious details to life in his face and don't hold back on the details. Hair can be tricky but all it really takes is just a bit of throwing some lines in. It's really just hair, so you can just be as messy as you like. Throw them lines in, and then you can clean it up and make it look a bit more solid and held together. I have sped this video up quite a bit, only because I did spend quite some time on this image. It can be quite slow actually at this point because now that you have everything structured out, you can take your time. So don't be afraid to sit there and really spend some quality time on your artwork. So everything is quite straightforward from here. I'm just doing a lot of the dark outlines and all the muscle detail and just continuing on, so it's all much the same. I'm just going to let this run for a while so you can see the details run their course. Shading can just be a great final touch. Always keep in mind the angle of your lighting. So, most of the time in a lot of situations, the light source is coming from above. So all our shadows will be underneath. You don't have to go too heavy on the shading. When doing stuff like this, I like to make my outlines the darkest, shading more of a medium. When I draw these thick outlines especially around the ab area, it's nice to just really put some jagged edges in there, make it seem a bit more roughed up. You don't want anything to be too perfect. So yeah, this is it, time to wrap it up. We've come a long way, starting from the real basics using just basic shapes to form our body, and then jumping on to oppose and trying to work that out, and then working it with the scene and using a bit of perspective and now the fine details. It's a bit of a process, but really it pays off. Don't forget you can share your work. Start your own project in Skillshare and I'd love to see what you come up with. A bunch of other artists from all around the world will be able to see your work so, I hope that you get a lot from this and keep the work coming. Good luck with it all, and thanks. I really appreciate everything. 8. A big thank you!: I just want to say a massive thank you to everyone who's taking part in this class. I really appreciate it, and I hope you've learned a lot. I'm really looking forward to seeing what you come up with. I'll be out and check through all the student projects later on, and I'll give you some feedback. I'm sure there are a lot of creative minds out there. So, just remember, don't hold back and have fun. That's what it's all about. Cheers. 9. More Creative Classes on Skillshare: