Create a Stylised Digital Portrait | Charly Clements | Skillshare

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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.

      Class Intro


    • 2.

      Exercise 1: Build Confidence


    • 3.

      5 Tips On Drawing Faces


    • 4.

      Exercise 2: Fun With Faces


    • 5.

      Exercise 3: Hair and Accessories


    • 6.

      Finding Inspiration


    • 7.

      Refining Your Sketches


    • 8.

      My Go-To Brushes


    • 9.

      Adding Color


    • 10.

      Bonus: Textures and Details


    • 11.

      Bonus: Thumbnail Speedpaint


    • 12.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

In this class you’ll be learning how to illustrate a stylised digital portrait.

You’ll be taking part in 3 super fun exercises to help you add personality to your faces while keeping your line work simple.  I’ll be walking you through my whole process on how I create my unique characters, and exploring different ways you can experiment with hair styles, clothes accessories and colour to make your portraits stand out.

I’ll be working in Procreate for this class but feel free to use any other drawing software! 


Download my Kickass Color Palettes PDF! A great website for color palette inspiration

My Go-To Brushes:

Straggle brush - Inkers by Idle Letters

Paint cracks - Tip Top Brushes

Nitty Gritty - Jamie Bartlett

Prickly - Jamie Bartlett

Music by:

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Charly Clements

Greeting Card Designer and Illustrator


Hey, I'm Charly!

I’m a greeting card designer and freelance illustrator from the UK, mostly known for my stylised portraits and fun colour palettes. 4 years ago I decided to sell all my belongings and travel around the world armed with only my iPad Pro. I now run my creative business full time from my laptop and iPad, working on projects that I love, collaborating with dream brands and licensing my work out to stores around the world.

You can find my work online and in stores internationally on mugs, greeting cards, apparel, and more. 

I love sharing my latest work, process videos and mini tutorials on Instagram and YouTube so feel free to check them out :)

Join our amazing creative communit... See full profile

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1. Class Intro: Hi, I'm Charlie and I'm a greeting card designer and freelance illustrator from the UK, and I love drawing faces. In this class, I'm going to show you three fun exercises to help loosen you up and build confidence in your line work. We'll be looking at how we can add personalities to our faces and fun ways to experiment with different styles. We'll then be moving on to drawing from vectors faces, refining our sketches, and creating a stylized colored portrait. I'll be showing you my whole process from start to finish so you can see how I get from this to this. As a special bonus, I'll be showing you the exact brushes I use in my work. For your project, I want you to create a fun and quirky portrait using at least one pattern and a limited color palette. Whether you're a beginner or an advanced illustrator, this class is for anyone looking to improve their skills when drawing faces. I'll be using procreate to this class, but feel free to use any of the drawing app. Ready to have fun with faces? Join me in the first exercise where we're going to be building up our confidence. Let's get started. 2. Exercise 1: Build Confidence: Drawing faces can be overwhelming, but a great place to start is by tracing over photos. It not only helps you store the information of what makes a face to face, but it also allows you to experiment with style that the added pressure of getting the face right. I put together a few exercise sheets for you guys to have fun with. You can find the download in the class details below. Once you downloaded your PDF, you want to import it from your library. If you click on the little spanner in the left corner, ''Insert a Photo'', and it should be saved here. Create a new layer on top of that. We'll go to the brushes and pick a pencil brush. The reason why I brought the pencil, is just so I get that traditional feel even when I'm working digitally. I don't want you to sketch too much, so no shading and no sketchy marks. I want you to be really confident with your line work. We will zoom in, making sure we're on the layer above. We can start drawing in the shapes that we see. This exercise is all about simplifying your portraits. I'll start drawing in some of the line work. You don't have to be too accurate. As you go along, I want you to start drawing outside the lines a little bit. She can say, maybe I'll do the eyes a bit bigger, do the nose bit more simple, and have the lips quite plump. As you can see, I'm not doing any shading, I'm just penciling in the shapes that I see. Then, if you remove the layer underneath, you'll start to see a bit more of a simplistic style from the photograph. The aim here is to try and create a different illustration each time and use the photo underneath as more of a guide rather than you tracing it completely accurate. We want to experiment with different features. Maybe I'll go in with more cartoony eyes this time. I'll go in with like a funny nose. Maybe I'll give her a bigger eyebrows as well, more rounded face, maybe some freckles this time. It is about being creative and seeing how you can change each illustration up. Give her more simplistic ear and maybe make her neck a bit thinner. You can enhance or change up the features however you like. This is all about experimenting and trying to find a style that works wiggy. I quite like the idea of her hair just being up, so I'm going to leave it up. Then make her shoulders a little bit bigger and the different pattern. When I'm happy with how it's looking, I'll go back and see how it's looking without the photo underneath. We we need to repeat this process four more times and each time just adding different elements, giving it more personality and trying to make it [inaudible]. Is about finding the shapes, trying to simplify the face, so it's not so overwhelming. Then we repeat the process again. By the end, you should be left with a page full of simplistic illustrations and hopefully been able to explore your style bit more. If you are still unsure on how to draw faces, then join me in the next class where we are going to be going over a few things to pay attention to when drawing faces. 3. 5 Tips On Drawing Faces: Looking at the basic rules of getting the proportions right in the face, I normally cut a cross in the middle of the head to act as a guide to where my features guide. I'll start off by drawing the eyes in the center of the face and then the bottom of the nose should roughly come in halfway between the middle line and the chin. Then the line of the mouth should come in between the chin and the bottom of the nose, so around here, slightly higher than halfway. Then the tops of the ears lined with the tops of the eyes, but we don't always have to stick to the rules. A really fun way is to experiment with the position of the features. Maybe you could go into a little bit higher with your eyes to create a really cartoony look and then a really long nose, maybe have the ears a bit lower. Even though it's not following the rules, you can still make it work and I think that's a great way about trying to find your style and stylizing your illustrations. Now I can try a really squashed face. Drawing the eyes below the line and I feel sometimes when we do this, face can be a locator. The eyes don't always have to be right in the center of the face. It's just about experimenting and playing around with the position of features to see what works best for you. Your characters expression can completely change just by the shapes and the placement of the eyebrows. If we want our character to be curious, you have the eyebrow low down and maybe have it raised. Straight away, you know that he looks a bit curious or suspicious and that's just through a few simple strokes. If we want our character to be a bit sad, we put the eyebrows down and really emphasize how sad he's feeling. Then on this one, if we want our character to be angry, just by changing the eyebrows pointing down, we can create an angry character. This is just a really good example for you guys to see how much face can change just from the eyebrows. Adding details such as freckles, spots, wrinkles can give your character a lot more personality. I want this character to be old, so I'm going to start by drawing some wrinkles and by giving bags under his eyes and just a few simple lines and quite bushy eyebrows and some age spots. By simply adding a few lines completely changes the age of your character. For this one, I'm going to give him some facial hair. He looks quite scruffy, and maybe some cheeks as well because he looks quite worried, maybe he's embarrassed. Again, just a few lines in the skin. For my last one, we can give him some freckles, maybe a mole and some glasses. Just by adding a few simple details, I've changed their personalities. Not all faces are of the same shape and size. It's really fun to mix it up and try different head shapes within your characters. Think about different ways you can diversify the shapes and sizes. Some might have pointy chins, round chins, squashed faces. It's really good to try and experiment as much as possible. This will make for a lot more of an interesting character. Experimenting with different ways of drawing the features will really help you find your style. There's so many different ways to join eyes, mouths, and noses that it can become overwhelming. In case you're stuck or don't even know where to start, I've put together three cheat sheets for you guys to help you explore different ways and styles of drawing the face. Go to the resources below and download it. Now you know the things to pay attention to when you're drawing your own faces. Join me in exercise two where we'll be having fun with faces. 4. Exercise 2: Fun With Faces: For exercise two, I want you to draw a five circles that vary in shape and size, making sure you leave enough space around each one. These are going to be the foundation for your funny faces. I want you to make each face a little bit different from the next. Not worrying about adding hair and accessories at this point. I'm going to go into my first face and start drawing out the eyes, and it's all about having fun with it. I'm going to draw nose and some lips, and experiment with different shaped is. Leaving the eyebrows to the end because this is where I can add a bit more personality. I'll finish it off with some cheeks. I'm quite happy with that, so I'm going to move on to the next. Because this isn't a normal shaped face, I feel like I can maybe go a bit more cartoony with this. Play around with having small eyes in the top of the head, and then a really long nose to match his long face. Because his eyes are quite small and he looks tired, maybe I'll go with a yawning mouth. Because his face is looking quite funny, I think I can push the boundaries a bit with his ears. Maybe we'll add them lower down to his head and see how that looks. I think that works because his nose is so long and his eyes is so small, it doesn't have to be anatomically correct. I'm quite happy with that, I think he's looking good. We give him some eye lids and some droopy skin to show how tired he is. By adding a few marks like this, you can just change the personality and the emotion of the character, so I'm going to move on to the middle face. Again, I want to explore a different styles, so maybe I'll change the nose up, give more slanted eyes, and I want my character to be angry, st The eyebrows' pointing down. By changing some of the features slightly, I've created an angry character. It's all about experimenting and seeing what faces you can create with a few marks. I've added some eyelashes, maybe some cheeks as well. I just check back to see how different is looking, and I'm happy with that, so I move on to the next. When looking at the shape of the face, we can start to think what features will work within the shape. I want to go with really long fat lips because I think this will work with the square jaw. We start to draw fat lips. Again, try now a different style nose, just try and find my style. We'll have the eyes closed on this one because this is a bit different from the others, and some bushy eyebrows. When we cut just to be a bit older, so I'll add some wrinkles on the forehead and some lines around the mouth. Maybe have some bags under her eyes as well. So long droopy is. It's just about having fun and seeing how the character evolves. You can use the shape of the face as inspiration for how you want your character to look. I'm just having a look at it and seeing if there's any more details you can add. I'll fill out the eyebrows and give my character few age spots as well. Now, we're moving on to the last circle. I want to make this space a little more realistic, so I'm going to put the eyes on the ears around the center of the head. Draw two quite straight lines, some eyelashes to make sure that she looks female and some plump lips. I draw some shape the eyebrows, and I drew [inaudible] as well. It's about finding those little details that you can add afterwards. You're faces don't have to be perfect, and it's just about exploring different ways that you can change up the face. In the next exercise, I want you to add hair and accessories to your faces. 5. Exercise 3: Hair and Accessories: This is the fun part where we are going to draw hair and accessories on our faces. I want you to bring the opacity down and then create a new layer on top. This will make it easier to see where you're drawing the lines. Normally the hair line will come halfway between the eyebrows and the top of the head. I'll draw the parting and I'm going to have her hair up. I give a hair band and just going to sketch and play around with a few different ideas. I'm going to give us some earrings with funky pattern and I'm going to match that on our hair band. I wanted to give him an Elvis quiff. I'm going to color in and I'm just playing around with different ideas. I'm going to give him some eyebrows and some facial hairs, and it's just about having fun. I'm going to start off the same way as I did the first, with hair parting. I'm going to give her a more very simple heady with her hair down. I feel she's quite young-looking so it's just trying to find different ways that I can bring out her personality. I'll add a few more details and marks. For this one, I really like his bald head so I'm going to give him a really big beard and then just a few hairs on the side of his head, just to make him look a lot older, then give him some sunglasses so he looks like a cool granddad. This character, I feel she looks like she's got a lot of attitude so I'm going to give her a cap. I'm just trying to find different ways that can bring out her personality. I feel like the glasses are just a little bit distracting so I'm just going over her eyebrows using black. Now I feel like that's finished. With this character, she is reminding me a bit of a librarian because of her hair so I thought I'd give her some glasses too just to add to her character, add a few different details. You can just have a look at your illustrations and see if there's anything you want to add. Yet, it's just about having fun with it, experimenting. If you're stuck for headies, don't worry, just have a look at photos online and see if you can get inspired that way or if you're feeling adventurous, try and draw from imagination. Once your finished, if you have any loose layers, merge them down, but making sure that you keep the face layer and the hair layer separate. We're going to bring the opacity back up with the face layer. Any lines like this that you see, just erase them. Then you should be left with some quirky faces. Now that you've warmed up, let's jump into the next class where we are going to be making our mood boards for our portraits. 6. Finding Inspiration: We're going to make a mood board with inspiration for our portrait, and the best place to start is Pinterest. We're going to type in female photography. You can start to look at different hairstyles and poses and get inspired this way. I really like this girl's hair style. I'm just going to click on it and then see if there's any similar images, so I could use as my inspiration. Once you've chosen a hairstyle or a model that you really like, can then start to think about what elements you want to bring in. Maybe it wouldn't hurt to wear something different to what she's wearing, so you'd put in vintage shirt as an example, and you can start looking at the patterns and put this or send it to your mood board because then you can use this as reference later. I want my portrait to have some funky earrings, so I'm just going to have a look at funky earrings. I really like these, these really cool. You can start looking at different shapes. I love the geometric shapes with these earrings, different patterns that you can then incorporate into your illustration as well. Gold hoops, so it's just about thinking how you can dress your portrait up. I could add these into my mood board by taking a screenshot just use Command, Shift, four on a Mac. Just take a quick picture and then that can be added to mood board later. The things you need to think about, are different patterns, different colors which you can look for on packaging, fashion or photography and get inspired that way. But also how you're going to dress the face up. You can look at different sunglasses, different shapes, funky earrings, head scarfs, hats. Spend around 10 minutes gathering some inspiration, and in the next class, I'm going to be showing you how I take all of these different elements and bring them into just one portrait. 7. Refining Your Sketches: Once you've finished your mood board, bring it into your Canvas and we'll be using this as reference for our sketches. I was really drawn to this girl's hair style. I knew that that was going to be my main focus for this portrait, but I also wanted to put her on different cloths. So I'm not completely copying the photo. Using this as reference, the we start drawing in the shape of the head. It's quite oval and join in the shapes of the features. It's really roughly at this point. It doesn't have to be perfect. Stop blocking out the hair. Again, it doesn't have to be perfect. It's just trying to find shapes. Then I can move the eyes [inaudible] because I'm not quite happy where they are. If you're not happy with the size of the eyes or the features that look in a little bit off, you can easily select parts of the illustration and resize and move them around till you get it right. Don't worry too much about proportions, or if you feel something's off, just take a step back, have a look at your illustration and see if you can find what's making your illustration look a bit off and then you can easily adjust there. Before we draw the shoulders, I want to make sure that our illustration will fit within the square canvas. Reason why I like working with a square canvas is because it looks best on Instagram. To create a square, we're going to roughly draw out the shape and then hold on our pencil down and hold enough finger down on the screen at the same time and make sure you click into a perfect square. Select the illustration and resize it to fit square. Now, start working on the shoulders. Like I said before, I don't want to completely copy the image. I'm going to change her strapped top to shirt. I'm going to start looking at the vintage shirts I picked earlier on. I really loved this tropical pattern. I want you to see how I can simplify on her shirt. Once you're done, go to copy and click on this X up here. Create custom size and click at a square canvas at 3,000 pixels by 3,000 pixels and a DPI of 300. Its high quality. In my new canvas hair; I'm going to go to spanner and paste my sketch and besides it, fit the square. I'm going to add a few details. I need to know my illustration as much as possible until I'm happy with it. It can be hard to edit your illustration once the color is added. It's important to make any changes and edits at this stage. Now, that we're happy with our illustration, we're going to bring new palettes down and start to chase [inaudible] image. Create your pattern on a new Layer. That way, you can erase parts that are interfering with the whole illustration. Once you are happy with your illustration, you can go to your Layers and pinch them all down to match them. Join me in the next class where I'll be sharing about some of my favorite brushes. 8. My Go-To Brushes: Before we jump into coloring our sketches, I'm going to give you a brief tour on what brushes I use. As you can see here I've got my go to and these are all the brushes I use in my illustrations so they are all organized in one place and it just means that my workflow is a lot quicker. I normally start off by doing the outline, get the skin color and this is the brush that I use where I get really neat lines. You can see it here, and this is because on the brush settings, I have the streamline hair all the way up to around 95 and this means that your lines are a lot straighter. If we put the streamline down, you'll see that the lines are a lot harder to control. So just make sure the streamline is up to around 95. This is what I use for outlining all of the shapes. The next brush I use is prickly by Jamie Bartlett and I found this on Creative Market so I'm going to link all of my favorite brushes below just so you know where to find them and I really like these for adding texture details. I normally use it for the nails and the eyes too. It's just for adding tiny textures that just highlight some of the illustration. It just gives it more of a inky feel so the illustration doesn't look too flat. Then with the straggle brush I really like to add fly away hairs and textures on the hair. Just to give it more movement. I feel this brings the illustration alive a lot more. With the texture brushes, here, I really like the gritty brush, which is also by Jamie Bartlett. Since we create a new layer on top, clipping mask, and just in that shape, you can get some textures in here and this is just another way of creating textures the clipping mask. The pink cracks is what I normally use my backgrounds. If I select a color for the background and then pick a darker tone and use in that brush and create really nice texture underneath. Those are all the new brushes that I use and this texture brush as well, it's from the tik tok brushes and they have so many different Procreate brushes to choose from. In the next class, I'll be showing you how I color my illustrations using these brushes. 9. Adding Color: Now that we have a finalized line work, we are ready for my favorite part, which is coloring, I would need to bring the opacity down to around 40 percent. These lines are going to act as a guide for when we start adding our color. As you can see, I've already got my color palette saved here. These are the colors I'm going to be using for my illustration. Having a limited color palette makes your illustrations look a lot more refined. I've only chosen three main colors, green, pink, and red, and then I've chosen darker shades of those colors to add details later. Then I've added a black and white as well to add more contrast, I always put the background color down first, just so we know that when I'm coloring my character, the colors I'm using are always working with the background. I'll create a new layer underneath my line work, and fill this with the pink that I chose earlier. Then I'll create a new layer on top of that. To start off her face, and having a lighter color for her skin to contrast the background-color. Now use my outline brush to create really smooth lines when an outlining her face. Once I finish outlining shape of her face I fill it in. If you noticed up here there's a color drop threshold, and this gauges how much your shape will be filled in. If it's on a low percent, the shape won't be completely filled to the edge, so you want to make sure that your threshold is around 95 percent, but if you go any higher then your page will get flooded. It's good to check how the colors are interacting with the background, so I normally remove my sketch every now and then, just to check how the colors are interacting with the background. I can also check that the line work is neat and if I need to add anything, I can go in and do it that way. Then I'll add a new layer for her neck, this will make it a lot easier when adding shade in under her chin. Draw a rough circle, holding your pencil down into its snaps into a circle like this, and then tap your finger on the screen to make it a perfect circle. Then you can adjust the size by moving your pencil up and down on the screen, so around there good. To copy part of the layer, press the Select button up here, select part of your illustration, and then with three fingers, swipe down on your screen and this should pop up. Then you can press "Copy" and "Paste," and you have all of these down here, so Freeform, Uniform. If you have freeform, then you can move it around, curve if you like. But if you want uniform, then it will still stay a circle and you are just controlling the size. That seems about right, and then I'm going to merge the layers down, and fill that. Now to illustration, I feel the green beret just isn't working, so I want to change color. There's two easy ways of fixing this. You can either drag and drop the color this way, but sometimes this can affect the quality of your lines. Another the way that I do is if you click here, click "Recolor," and then put the x where you want the color to change. This will recolor anything on that layer. I want to fill half of that earring pink, but I just want to select this layer. A really good tip is if you create a layer above, and then go to Clipping Mask, this means that anything you draw on this layer would just be in that shape. I'm just going to repeat the process with the smallest equity, and this is why it's important to have your shapes in different layers. Join me next in my bonus class where I'll be showing you how I add textures and details. 10. Bonus: Textures and Details: I'm just going to show you a few ways that I add details to make my illustration pop. So create circles on my cheek, and then duplicate it for the other side. I'll draw a small model and a reflection on her lip by going a few shades lighter than the red. Now with a darker shade and my pencil brush, I'm going to go over the lines on her hair. Then I may pass it down a little bit more just so we can see the lines. Then I will draw within that shape. Use the clipping mask like I showed you earlier. Now just go around her hair and try and follow the wave. Now, with my struggle brush and then stop. White has come in out of the hair shape. This just gives a little bit more movement. Just play around with areas I feel that hasn't come out. I love how this texture looks. I'll just do a few strands coming down from the hair. My small prickly brush, then start outlining some of her shape. This is just a way of highlighting some of the areas that would otherwise be lost. I want to add some depth and texture to a half. So I'm going to drop the vet and then go down a few shades darker, again using the clipping mask. I'm going to go on with my custom made texture brush, to create some subtle shading. A little tip for you guys. It's always good to go few shades too dark and then you can adjust the capacity to make it lighter that way. So going to a few shades darker on my background, or go in and add a bit of texture. Then I repeat the process with the glasses too and then to finish her off, I'll give her a few freckles with the paintball freckles brush. Even though these textures are quite subtle, I still feel it makes a big difference to your illustrations. I can't wait to see how you use these brushes in your own portraits. 11. Bonus: Thumbnail Speedpaint: okay? 12. Final Thoughts: I hope you guys had fun and enjoyed the class. If you did, then please let me know. Say if there's anything that I can improve on this is my first Skill Share class. I only want to get better and teach you as much as I know. If you do have anything that you want to discuss or ask, then leave some comments below and I hope you had fun. That was the main purpose of this class. I just wanted you guys to loosen up, build some confidence, and just get better at drawing faces. There are some things that I want to go over really quickly from the class. Just to remind you before you go off and do your drawings is to experiment and explore. Experimenting and exploring is so important when trying to find your style or trying to develop a style, is just keep drawing. Sketch, sketch, sketch and just keep practicing, and you'll start to find ways of drawing that you really enjoy. Just keep practicing and you will get better. Limit your color palette. This one's a really important one. If you want to work for clients or if you want to work for editorial illustration, having a limit to color palette shows that you're confident in your colors that you're picking for your illustrations. Just bear that in mind when you're doing your illustrations. I have got a downloadable PDF with all of my favorite color palettes for you to go through if you're feeling stuck with color. Refine your sketches. What I mean by this is don't rush the sketching process. Make sure that your line work is as neat as possible and that you're 100 percent happy with your illustration before you go into color. This makes your life a lot easier when you go to color. Please share your projects below and I can't wait to see what you guys come up with. If you have any questions or comments, leave them in the discussion too and I'll get back to everyone. Thank you so much for joining in, and I'll see you later.