Draw a Circus of Movement: Simple Techniques to Bring Characters to Life | Nina Rycroft | Skillshare

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Draw a Circus of Movement: Simple Techniques to Bring Characters to Life

teacher avatar Nina Rycroft, Picture Book Illustrator

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.

      Body Posture


    • 3.

      Forward Movement


    • 4.

      Drawing Movement from Reference


    • 5.

      The Art of Exaggeration


    • 6.

      Body Language


    • 7.

      Body Language...Continued


    • 8.

      Age Appropriate Movement


    • 9.

      Drawing with Line and Gesture


    • 10.

      To Finish


    • 11.

      BONUS - Body Language...Adding Detail


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About This Class

Learn simple techniques that will bring characters to life.

Explore body posture, forward motion and learn how to apply poses found in any reference to your character. Experiment with body language and exaggeration to bring personality and story to your character. Explore age-appropriate movement, line-of-action and gesture.


  • body posture
  • forward motion
  • to use reference material
  • body language
  • exaggeration
  • line-of-action
  • age-appropriate movement
  • drawing with gesture






Interested in character design? 

Below is my series of Skillshare classes that walk you through the entire process of how to illustrate a character from start to finish. Use this series to either brush-up on a particular skill or work your way through, for a comprehensive guide.

Nina's Skillshare Character Design Series

  1. Face Facts: Beginners Guide to Drawing a Self Portrait
  2. Face Shapes: Draw a Series of Character Using Simple Shapes 
  3. 101 Guide to Drawing Eyes
  4. Emoji Me: The art of Facial Expression
  5. How to Draw the Head From Every Angle: Part One
  6. How to Draw the Head From Every Angle: Part Two
  7. How to Draw the Head From Every Angle: Part Three
  8. Draw a Circus of Characters: Exploring Body Shape and Proportion
  9. Draw a Circus of Movement: Simple Techniques to Bring Characters to Life
  10. Draw a Circus of Line & Gesture: Design a Picture Book Character From Start to Finish
  11. Watercolor Magic: One Character Five Ways
  12. Illustration Masterclass: Exploring Technique and Style
  13. Learn to Use Procreate: Design and Illustrate a Bear Character
  14. • NEW • Animal Character Design for Picture Book Illustrators: Techniques and tips for designing characters with a narrative

Meet Your Teacher

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Nina Rycroft

Picture Book Illustrator


Please link up, subscribe and follow me on: Facebook I Instagram I Pinterest I Website

Hi! I'm Nina Rycroft, a picture book illustrator. I worked as a graphic designer in Sydney and London before turning my hand to illustration, with my first picture book Little Platypus received a CBCA (Children's Book Council of Australia) Notable Book Award in 2000. Since then, I've had more than a dozen picture books published worldwide, winning some awards along the way. To view my list of publications.

If you're interested in learning how and design and develop character, illustration techniques and picture book illustration, then please follow me...or even better...try one of my classes :)

My dozen or so Skillshare classes >>> taken in this sequence See full profile

Level: Intermediate

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1. Introduction: Welcome to body works Part 2, where we will be drawing a circus of movement, learning really simple techniques that will bring your characters to life. Have you ever wanted to know how other artists and picture book illustrators managed to bring their characters to life no matter how simple or animal or fantasy their characters are? They seemed to manage to bring this endearing human qualities to their characters, enough so, to captivate us and to draw us into the story. As a picture book illustrator, bringing movement and gesture to your characters is probably one of the hardest things to try and do. With the techniques that I teach in this class, before you know it, I'll have your characters, walking, running, creeping, balancing, lifting, and leaping right off the page. In this class, you're going to learn how to position your character into any pose you wish and we're going to try this with wire-frame techniques, shapes, and also using reference. We're going to learn about body posture, so leading with the head, the chest, and the pelvis, we're going to move through forward motion, so walking, running, sneaking, that sort of thing. Then we're going to tackle the big topic of body language, so we're going to explore exaggeration and visual storytelling through this. We're going to dive into a selection of picture books and this will help us explore age appropriate characters and movement and it's also going to open up and inspire the storytelling genre. Whether you're working on a comic an animation, anything with storytelling and character, what I teach in this class can be applied to your character and your work. Anyway, I'm super excited about this class, I can't wait to share all these techniques with you, I seriously think their going to transform all of your character drawings into something that's just going to take it to another level. I can't wait to get started, so I'll see you in the next lesson. 2. Body Posture: Welcome. In this lesson, I'll be taking you through the basics in body posture using the boy character that I designed in the body works Part 1 class. Here, I have the basic framework for my boy character and from this, I'm going to create a wireframe of the front view and also the side view. Before you can bring movement to your character, it's really important to know what your character looks like from the front and side. Here, I'm using the guidelines to transfer the information across from the front view to the side view. Here we have the chin line, the shoulder, the nipple line, the belly button, the hip joint, which is also the same height as the wrist and the crotch, the mid thigh and fingertip line, the bottom of the knee, the bottom of the calf muscle and finally, the soles of the feet. Placing my wireframe underneath the sheet of blank paper I'm going to use this as reference for the proportions of the character. Leading with their head, makes my character look very slumped. You can see how the spine is leaning forward, the shoulders forward and, the posture of my character looks very different to how I initially drew him. But I'm now going to draw leading with the chest, which is a very confident body posture. It's open, it's broad shoulders, the arms are back, the head is held high, so my character would come across as much more confident than the previous drawing. Now, I'm going to try leading with the pelvis. You can see I'm moving that pelvis forward which pushes everything else back. The legs go back, the chest falls back, and the shoulder hanging a little bit as well. This is probably the most similar to my original drawings of the characters. I actually want my character to be moving with the pelvis lead. Here we have it leading with the head, the chest, and the pelvis. Now that I have my wireframes in place, I'm going to start drawing in more detail of the boy character using my original drawing as reference. He's got the large hair, the long t-shirt, and he's holding a skateboard and now drawing the character leading with the chest. You can see how different the posture affects the look and feel of the character and their personality and then leading with their head. The three different body postures portray three very different personalities but the same character. Leading with the head shows uncertainty, leading with the chest shows confidence and strength while, leading with the pelvis seems to show a confidence swag. Makes sure to print out the PDF worksheet for this class, so that you can try this out for yourself. Now, please join me on my next class where I'll show you how to bring forward movement to your characters. 3. Forward Movement: Welcome back. With the help of the round older man that I designed in Body Works Part 1. I'll be showing you the basics in forward movement and then how to overlay the wireframe movement that you've created with your own characters. Placing the wireframes that we did earlier under a sheet of blank paper. We're going to use the side view and mark a line for the ground and the pelvis area. Tilting the reference 30 degrees or so, draw the position of the back leg. The back of the foot pressing off the ground, the spine and the chest. Then use a circle to mark where the shoulder socket sits, and from there, you can swing both the arms. Drawing in the elbow, the wrists and hands, and then the position of the head. Then reposition the reference 30 degrees or so the other way, to draw the position of the front leg with the hill pressing into the ground. Then draw the second arm swinging forward, again, drawing the elbow, the wrist, and the hand. Just putting in those final touches, and here we have at the wireframe for walking. Now the main difference between drawing someone walking or drawing someone running is the angle. With running, the angles are far more exaggerated as the body pushes forward. He can see the back leg is really outstretched and the torso is leaning way forward. With the head looking forward, the front leg is elevated and bent at the knee on a really tight angle, ready to bear into the ground. Using circles to mark the shoulder, elbow and wrist. One arm swings back at a similar angle to the front shin, while the other arm swings forward with both hands clenched into a fist. Side-by-side, you can see how much more powerful and angular the running looks compared to the walking. Here we have it, the wireframe for running. Now I'll demonstrate a very different kind of forward movement, sneaking. Slow and cautious, the angle of the body is leaning way back. Along the line, I use the wireframe reference to mark the length of each limb. From the ankle to the knee, and then from the need to the hip. Here you can clearly see the line of action from the ankle, knee, pelvis following the spine all the way through to the top of the head. From the chest, marking a circle for the shoulder socket. I then draw two curved lines for the position of the arms. Then, following that line of action, I mark where the head will rest. With each one of these forward movements, the most important thing to know is where the baseline or the ground line is. You also need to know whether pelvis sits, and it's really important to know the line of action. Once you have these in place, you can then fill in the other pieces of the wireframe. At this wireframe stage, it's really easy to make changes to get the desired movement. At this point, it's only a matter of redrawing a circle or a line. Here we have it, a wireframe for the forward movement of someone's sneaking. Once you have your wireframe and place, you can then overlay it with any character you like. Here you can see how the sneaking dinosaur ended up on the cover of my picture book, Dinosaurs Love Cheese. Whether your character is animal or human, tall or short, large or thin, wireframes work for any type of character. To show you what I mean, I'm going to enlist the help of my round old man character, that I designed in Part 1 of this series. You can see how I'm simultaneously using the wireframe and also my reference, my character map, to draw this character in motion. The wireframe is essentially the skeleton of the character positioned into a chosen pose. Once you have this, you can overlay the muscle, the flesh, the skin, hair, clothing and other accessories, creating your character. Make sure to print out the PDF worksheet that I supplied and post your forward movement character sketch to the project section of this class. Please join me my next class, where I'll be showing you how to interpret movement from any reference and how you can apply this to your characters. 4. Drawing Movement from Reference : In this lesson, I'm going to show you how to use reference, any reference, whether it's a photo, a newspaper clipping, or a still from a movie and how you can apply this reference to your own character. In Body Works Part One, draw a circus of characters, we learned the basics in body proportion and how to design a set of characters using simple shapes. So now I'm going to choose the girl character from my set of circus characters. I'm going to strip back all of her detail so that I can work with her wire frame. When drawing movement, it's really important to know what your character looks like from the front and the side. So here I've drawn a wire frame of the girl's character's front view and using guidelines, I've transferred the information across to a side view. So this is my circus inspired pose that I've chosen for my character, a vintage photograph that I've made a copy of. Now, you can draw from images on your screen, but I always find it easier to have printouts of all my reference material and I'd highly recommend this, especially if you're trying this out for the first time. Here I've placed the wire frame underneath a sheet of bank paper. Here I'm simultaneously using the wire frame as a guide for my character's body proportions while using the reference for the position of the body. You can see that I'm marking the main areas, the pelvis, the knee and ankle joints. You can see I've got lines in between those two areas. I'm also transferring across the angle of the leg. The angles don't change and here I'm putting in the knee and the other ankle joint. So here you can see I'm marking the shape of the torso and the line of action and I'm transferring that onto my sheet of paper so that I know where the shoulder joint will be and that's marked with a circle. You can see I'm now filling in the torso area. Here I'm marking where the elbow will be and I'm drawing a line up with another circle marking where the wrist is. You can see how I am copying the angles of the arm and the placement. So where is the elbow? Where is the wrist? Then I'm connecting those with simple lines. So I'm now moving across to the other arm. Again, I'm looking at the angle marking in where the elbow is and marking in where the wrist will be and then the hand following the wrist. I'm just tilting my sheet of paper so that I can draw the profile of the face correctly and at the right angle. You can see how I've lifted the chin up. Once I have the basic structure in place, I'm now going to add in the details. So you can see how I've got reference of my character, as well as the reference of the photograph near me. I'm just going to move around the illustration and looking at the photograph, but also looking at my reference of the character. Because I do want the limbs to be correct. I want the proportions of the torso and the legs and the head to be my character. But I want to keep my character in the pose that's there on the photograph. So I am just working my way around the detail, the hands. Now, if you have trouble drawing side profiles or anything to do with the face and the head, I have got another class that shows you how to draw the head from every angle. So you can go back to that class if you want to have a refresh on how to draw the face. That's probably the hardest thing to draw when you're drawing your character from every angle. So you can see how I'm filling in the legs, the thigh. Now, I'm down at the feet and I'm really going back to that reference now. I want that feeling of walking on a wire, which is quite hard to achieve. So you've got to really understand, where is the weight of the character and how stretched is that leg? You can see how that back leg is quite straight and the heel is really worked into the wire and the whole foot sitting really quite firmly on that wire. So details like that are really important to get the feeling of what the character is actually doing. Now, you can see once I've got the basic shape, I can then just start adding in the detail. I've got the dress that my character's wearing. But I'm also placing in the umbrella that is from the reference. She's using umbrella to help keep her stable. It's just mixing those two. Mixing the reference that you've chosen from your photograph and then trying to simultaneously bring in what your character looks like in that same pose. So you can see how I'm now layering in even more detail, I'm looking at my character drawings and putting in the detail of what she's wearing, her hands, and I'm bringing in my original side profile sketch just checking on what that looks like and I'm done. While I add in more detail with a lead pencil line, I'd like to invite you all to choose the reference that I'll supply you or you can choose something of your own and apply that to your character and just have a go at this. It's a really fun thing to be able to do. It frees you up and allows you to put your character into any position. You just don't have any boundaries once you know how to apply this kind of technique to your character. You can have your character doing anything you want it to. So this is a really exciting technique and it should really get your characters doing anything you want them to do, which is brilliant as far as picture book illustration goes. So here we have it. The final character drawing action and movement using reference. Make sure to print out the PDF worksheets for this class. But you can try this out for yourself. After posting these sketches, you can keep adding to them as you move through the class. Please join me in my next class where I'll be sharing with you the art of exaggeration. 5. The Art of Exaggeration: Welcome back. In this class, I'm going to share with you how to use exaggeration to enhance your character's body movement. I've enlisted the help of my strong man character that I designed in part 1 of this series. Instead of using the classic wire-frame that we've been using so far, we're going to go back to those simple shapes that we use to design our characters in part 1. Exaggeration is used by illustrators for many reasons. One of them is to make it very clear what that character is doing. Dramatizing and embellishing what that character is doing really helps the reader understand. Here I've drawn the strong man in a very distinctive pose. He's got all his weight on one leg while the other leg is stretched out. One arm on his hip while the other arm is pointing directly up. He seems overly confident, balancing or spinning the object above his head. Because he's so at ease, it seems what he's carrying and holding is quite light. Now I'm going to draw the strong man doing, I guess the opposite. I'm going to get him to hold something that is heavy. All of a sudden, I'm bending his body the opposite way to what I did for the light pose. The knees will be bent as they bear the weight. Now if I were to imagine the button as being an extremely heavy object. If before it was a basketball, let's say it's now a bowling ball. The arms would be straight and down, and everything would be pulling down towards that object. I'm even going to make them as starch react under the strain of the weight. If you've taken my facial expression class, well, now is the time to make the most of it. Once I finish off the face, I'm now making the final adjustments and adding in that final detail. Here we have it, the circus strongman character lifting a heavy object. Now I'm moving my reference between these two characters to draw something that is very light, floating. I'm only thinking like thoughts when I'm drawing this character, and the foot is actually lifting off the ground. You can clearly see here, the line of action from the foot all the way through to the hand. Drawing one leg swinging out, knee bent, and the body arched in that same arch of the line of action that I did from the toe through to the hand. I'm adding in more detail around the arms and the body. I'm just pulling in the shapes and using the reference underneath to see with the shape of the head and toes, and making sure all the proportions are there. Now I'm just working in the mustache, placing in more detail around the singlet area. If there's changes that I need to make in just as it's simple to do at this point. We're only at sketching stage. Don't feel too precious about it. Really just play around with how can you make this more, how can you exaggerate the body position even more? By using exaggeration and that line of action, I can really capture the quality of what the character is doing, and making it much more obvious and noteworthy for the reader. Tilting the reference, I'm putting in that second arm, and I'm having it stretched out, and the hands and the fingers splayed in a fright movement. In the spirit of very light, I'm going to my button a balloon. So far we've done light, very light, heavy, and now I want to do very heavy. I've drawn a line of action. I've drawn what will be a rope. I'm drawing the hand and the arm that's now going to pull on that rope using strong angles to amplify the pose. I'm trying to create this tension with the rigid legs, the arms and shoulders pulling up and back. I'm nestling the head in between the shoulders. There really is a sense of yanking and pulling from that rope. A lot of the times, I actually find it really helpful to put myself in that position. If I am to draw this particular position, I would physically do it. Then I would know what it feels like, and I find that helps with my illustration a lot of the time. At any one point while your sketching, don't feel afraid to try new things. Push something out further, try rearranging. Where the shoulders are, where the back is. How are you going to interpret the story of that character even more hanging or make it easier for the reader to understand what that character is doing. The pose that I put my character in should be enough. No matter what object I use, the story of my character should remain the same. Here we have it. The strong man character demonstrating the out of exaggeration with light, very light, heavy, and very heavy objects. Please join me in my next class, where I'll take you through the art of body language. 6. Body Language: Welcome back. In this lesson, we'll be looking art the out of body language. To help me, I'll be enlisting my seamstress character that I designed in body works part one of this series. In this lesson, I'll be stripping back to the character's initial simple shapes to create a series of poses. I'll then use this as a base to layer in more and more detail. You may choose to work on your own character, or you can use my character placing them into similar poses that I offer in this lesson. The idea is to bring your character to life by telling a story through their actions. To bring in the story element, imagine your character as an actor in a silent movie. Much like a picture book story, a silent movie relies on the actions of the character to engage the viewer and walk them through the story. In this lesson, we'll use Charlie Chaplin's body language in the lines cage to inspire body language for our own characters. Placing my initial shape drawing under a sheet of blank paper, I'm going to use this as reference for my character's proportions, shapes, and lengths of limbs, etc. Going back to Charlie Chaplin's silent movie, I'm going to imagine my character having just stumbled across the lion. My character is just seen the state of the kitchen, the lion just lift in and she's not happy at all. An upright, strong stance, hands on hips, broad shoulders, chin leaning forward and the body language pretty much says angry. Here I'm drawing the side of you of my character. The lion seems to have vanished. Weight on one leg, knock need, soft shoulders, one arm hanging by the side while the other in a thoughtful gesture resting under the chin. My character is looking a little confused and unsure. Now my character is curious. She's looking to see if she can find the lion. She doesn't want to disturb the lion, so she's trying to tip toe as quietly as she possibly can. Slow, elongated strides, arms and hands out wide ready to find something. With this pose, the character is reaching up to investigate a noise of some kind. There's a strong line of action through the reach from the tip toe on the ground all the way up the side of the body to the tip of the finger and to keep balance, the other foot and arm are leaning out very much like a dancer's pose. In this particular pose, my character seems to have come up short. Once again, I have a very strong line of action from the feet all the way up through the front of the body. The feet are firmly planted together on the ground, the strong, straight legs and chest is up and out, one hand is nestled into the hip with a very angular elbow while the other is reaching forward holding out the offending crusher. My character is not looking very impressed at all. The mouse is now as frightened as my character. Terrified, the mouse starts running across the width of my character's stretched out arms from one hand to the other, bent over, leaning forward, squatting down. This is just such an awkward pose that I'm a little bit comical as well. Disappointed and a little fed up my character is matching away, her shoulders slumped forward and our arms hanging down in front of her. You can literally see her eyes rolling back into her head and she lets out a big sigh. As the story unfolds, my character is looking towards the audience. Her arms are been to the elbow with their hands out and facing up, her head tilting ever so slightly as her shoulders shrug, her weight is casually leaning onto one foot with the other flipped up at the ankle. My character's story finishes here. As part of your project, I'd like for you to draw a simple 3-part sequence feature in your character and then post it onto the project section of this class. Use the lion cage as inspiration. 7. Body Language...Continued: Welcome back. In this lesson, we'll continue looking at the art of body language with the help of my seamstress character. Now, I'm going over my initial line drawing sketches that I did with using the simple shapes and I'm just using the reference of my seamstress character that I did in part 1. I'm just placing that on the side and I'm trying to bring in the detail from that character map into these character and movement sketches. As I layer in more detail, I'll be thinking about not only the body language, but also the facial expressions, the eye movement, and whether I can add any other gestures that could possibly help convey the meaning that I want to put across to the viewer. I also need to think about the constraints of the costumes and accessories that my character is wearing and how they can possibly be used to my advantage here, for instance, or even ears and tails on animal characters. This can all be brought to life and they can help punctuate a feeling or an emotion that you're trying to convey. Now, this is where it's really important to know how to draw your character well. How to draw your head from every angle is an absolute must if you're wanting to draw your character with more ease and confidence. I've listed some classes that may help below. Here I'm actually moving through this quite quickly. I don't want to overwork it at this stage, I just want to get a feel for what my character will look like and the general movement. I'm just building in the detail over the top of the basic poses that we did in the previous lesson. I'm thinking about the shape and the size and the length of the limbs. I'm thinking about the hands, definitely adding in more detail on the hands and the feet. I think this is really important to start focusing on at this point. Once again, you don't just want to be able to draw the body from every which way. You also need to know how to draw the head and the face from every which way. Knowing this will give you a real sense of creative freedom. Because once you can draw your character in any possible pose, well then the only constraints will be your imagination. Body language requires a broad interpretation. There's no absolute meaning corresponding with a certain movement or pose. It's a real general feel. Interpretations of body language vary from country to country and culture to culture. It's not as universal as we once thought it to be. Body language can seem quite overwhelming, especially if you get into the science of it. To avoid any misinterpretation, you really need to get a sense of how that pose feels. In a way you need to become the actor in the play, even if it's just for a moment. To get a sense of whether or not I've got the correct pose for my character in a certain situation, I actually like to place myself in the exact same position as I want my character to be in. I try to imagine the situation that my character is in. I try to feel what the character is feeling and if it feels authentic, then you're good to go. The idea is to keep it simple. Go back to that idea of the "Silent Movie" and physically act out the part yourself. Find the best possible pose that you can use to convey your story of a character and see if it feels authentic, and then bring that to your drawings. Look, I understand there are many different levels of feeling. Here, in this particular lesson, we've covered a more exaggerated approach. But there are also times when a story or a character needs to be more subdue, more quiet. I guess the same idea applies across the entire spectrum of movement. If it feels authentic to you, then it's also going to feel authentic to the viewer or the reader of the story. As you work through your poses, make sure to continuously refer back to your initial character sketches. It's really important that you keep your characters looking consistent throughout the story. Things like curls, hair, patting, the length of skirts and short, getting that detail will only make your character far more real. Head over to my bonus lesson if you want to continue adding in more detail to your characters. If not, please join me in my next lesson on each appropriate movement. 8. Age Appropriate Movement: Welcome back. In this lesson we'll be looking at the importance of age appropriate movement. When i'm working on a picture book, I always like to keep in mind the age of my audience. The readership for a picture book is usually between the ages of zero and five. If you think about a child's world, it begins very much centered around the immediate family and pets. Then as the child becomes older, their world expands to include extended family and friends and the local community like daycare, kindergarten, the local shops and library. Eventually when the child starts going to school, not many picture books feature very young babies as they are not yet mobile enough to carry a story. Rhymes sing along, and board books work really well for this age group, like Helen Oxenbury, Clap Hands. As a picture book illustrator, it's really important to create characters that the reader can relate to. To create a successful character, you need to be able to make them and their interactions believable and authentic. This is why it's so important to understand age appropriate movement. In Margaret Wild, s Midnight Babies. Ann James has illustrated a very unlikely scenario of babies creeping out of their cots in the middle of the night to meet with their toddler friends at the local park. With not an adult in sight. This book is more of the imaginary world. However, the babies in the book, they crawl, toddle and move through the story as if they were true to their age. The reader needs to feel comfortable enough for them to have the character take their hand and literally walk them through the story. If you think about a child's world, it begins very much centered around the immediate family. Like in John Marsden's Millie, a great example of everyday life for a young family. Sally Rippin's, gestural illustrations really capture the obstacles of the four-year-old character Millie and her struggles to readjust to the new baby. The scenarios in the story really mimic the four-year-olds movement beautifully. By age six, a child has mastered the fundamentals of movement. They can walk, run, skip, climb, balance, and are probably ready to start dance lessons or join the local sports team. In Suzy Lee's picture book Shadow. The main character is seen, balancing, reaching, squatting, jumping, dancing, and diving as she becomes more and more immersed in her shadow play. This makes for a really fun age group to illustrate. I'd have to say that eight years, is probably at the top end of the age group for picture book characters, especially for a main character. The older character may appear as a mentor type, in LeUyen Pham's, Big sister, Little sister. Or they may be old enough to be experiencing a deeper, more emotional experience in the story. The love and loss depicted in Margaret Wild's, Harry and hopper. Whether your audience babies, toddlers, preschoolers, or primary school children, the same rules apply. As an illustrator. Always keep in mind your target age group. Get to know that audience. How do they move, how do they interact with each other? Because the more accurate you are in depicting your character, the more relatable and appealing your character will be. Join me in my next class where I'll be sharing tips on how to bring movement to your line work. 9. Drawing with Line and Gesture: Welcome back. In this lesson, I'm going to take you through the process that I use to bring movement and gesture to my line. In this lesson, I'll be using my ivory black drawing pencil. But you're more than welcome to use any pencil that you have on hand. The line work that I'll be sharing with you to complete the age appropriate character lineup illustration is a style that I'm best known for. It's a style that I've developed over the years and it works beautifully when combined with watercolor or inks. The first thing I'm going to do is to place my working sketch under a sheet of blank paper. Now, if you're thinking about adding color to your line illustration at a later date, then you may want to trace your image onto a thicker, smooth watercolor paper. You may need a light box to be able to see through the thicker paper. The idea of this is organized chaos. We've figured out exactly what we want with a sketch underneath and over the top, we're just going to pull out and focus on the things that we want to keep and ignore I guess, the messiness. We want to keep the line work as clean as possible and as confident as possible as well. When I work on illustrations like this, I focus on the detail first. The face. If the face works out, then I'll spend more time on the rest of the illustration. Sometimes, it works the other way around where you want to loosen up and just get a feel for the illustration. You might go for the back of the body or the hairline or something like that. Once you've warmed up to the idea of the illustration, you then move to the more accurate detail around the face and hands. But you can see how when I've just drawn the belly and the arm, I'm trying to use as minimal strokes as possible. I'm trying to be quite precise and I've got my illustration underneath to guide me. I'm just moving around the baby in his rhythmic [inaudible] I possibly can. I'm just trying to understand what areas that I need and what areas are most important to explain what that baby is doing and just leaving out the rest of it. I'm making sure that each of these illustrations are resting on the same ground line. It's really important that they all look like they're walking on the same level. Here, I start again on the face and the nose and the eyes. Again, if you're having trouble with drawing faces, do go to my other classes and brush up on those skills because they really are important when you are trying to bring movement to a character. Now, this toddler has a really round belly, so I really want to accentuate that. All at the same time, the underlying thing is this line of action. All these babies are moving in some way and form. Look out for any shapes and any line of action, movement that you can see and try to pull that out as much as possible. I'm now thinking of hairstyles and again, I don't want to be over working the hair and coloring in with detail. I want to keep those lines quite confident and strong and as minimal as I possibly can. But at the same time, I do want to be able to add in the detail like the fingers and understand what exactly where thumb sits and the toes and all that. All those details that really make the character, I need to really focus on those as well. Here we have my four-year-old character and she's much more active character. She's skipping and pushing off on the ground. There's her hand and her arm that I'm working on. Just quite happy with the simplicity of the face and the hair. You can see I'm quite random with what areas I work on first. It's just the idea of that skipping and that line of action. You can see that real arch in the back and from the toe and the ground all the way through to her head, there's a really nice shape happening there. Really make the most of things like that when you're illustrating. When you're reworking an illustration like this, you can start thinking about clothing, you can think about small changes with the hair, you may like to see them wear something slightly different, you might want to change the position of the arms or the hands ever so slightly. You can see here I'm moving the back arm around a little bit more. It's a time to reevaluate, just get to that final. Is this illustration working exactly how I want it to? You can make those slight adjustments if you want to. You see a lovely line of action through this character's profile here. You can also see very clearly with this illustration that the line is not the same weight all the way through. I press and I lift and I press and I lift and I tried to change the energy and the weight of that line. Now, if you find yourself nervous or drawing really small and tight in any way, there are a couple of things that you can do. You can stand up instead of sitting down, you can work standing up with your page comfortably in front of you. I find that really helps me, especially when I'm working in a large painting. You can also put some music on. You can shake it all out and really just loosen up almost like warm up before you start illustrating and just try to also change the energy of yourself to more upbeat energy. This really does translate across to your illustration. It may seem strange at the time, but it really does work. You can see how I've overlapped that last character with the character in front of that, because of the head distances between each character, it made sense to bring them closer together. The overlapping leg works with the trousers and their leggings are on the two girls. Now, I'm going to work my way back from the start to the finish. Now, I'm just adding in a bit of shading around one side of each character. Most of the shading is going to happen on the back limb and the left-hand side of the character. This will just take a little bit more volume. Stick around for the bonus class if you haven't already. I really look forward to seeing your class projects of bringing your own characters to life with movement. If you like this class or found any of it interesting or helpful, please, do give it a thumbs up or a review as it's really gives the class more visibility on Skillshare, which will allow others to find it more easily. 10. To Finish: Thanks for joining me. I can't wait to see your projects. Please post the sequence of your characters in the project section. Make sure to download the PDFs that I've supplied as these will really help when it comes to putting your own character reference sheets together. Just to recap, in this class, you've learned how to position your character into any posts using wireframes, simple shapes, and reference. You've learned about body posture with examples of leading with the head, the chest, and the pelvis. You've learned about forward motion, where I've given examples on walking, running, and sneaking, and you've learned the art of body language using exaggeration, visual story telling, and line of action. You've also learned about age appropriate movement and drawing with gesture. If you found any of this class interesting or helpful, please give it a thumbs up or even a review as this gives the class more visibility on Skillshare, so that more people can find it and take part. I hope I've given you enough material and enough ideas to start thinking about how you can make your characters more lively and real. That's the whole idea is to just bring your characters to the next level and bring a bit more movement and excitement to your drawings. I look forward to seeing your work and I'll see you around. 11. BONUS - Body Language...Adding Detail: