Drawing People: Creating Unique and Dynamic Character Poses in Procreate | Sarah Holliday | Skillshare

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Drawing People: Creating Unique and Dynamic Character Poses in Procreate

teacher avatar Sarah Holliday, 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.

      What We'll Be Doing In Class


    • 3.

      Gesture Drawing


    • 4.

      Basic Proportions & Body Variation


    • 5.

      Drawing Realistic Proportions


    • 6.

      Stylising The Form


    • 7.

      Designing Character Body Shapes


    • 8.

      Refining Our Character Designs


    • 9.

      Creating Character Poses


    • 10.

      Class Project: Preparation


    • 11.

      Class Project: Sketching Our Poses


    • 12.

      Class Project: Cleaning Up Our Sketches


    • 13.

      Class Project: Creating a Stylised Silhouette


    • 14.

      Class Project: Colouring


    • 15.

      Class Project: Adding Texture, Detail & Final Touches


    • 16.

      Final Thoughts


    • 17.

      Bonus: Timelapse Video


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About This Class

Throughout this class you’ll learn how to design and pose diverse, stylised human characters with unique body shapes.

We’ll cover gesture drawing, understanding realistic human proportions and designing stylised characters with unique body shapes, as well as creating expressive poses for your characters using reference. By the end of the class you'll be able to bring all these techniques together to illustrate several dynamic poses for one of your favourite character designs created in class!

If you want to learn how to draw and pose people with confidence and to establish personality in your character illustrations, then this class is for you! Whether you’re a total beginner or just looking to brush up on your character illustration skills, there’s something to be learned at all levels.

As humans we communicate so much through body language, and having the tools to communicate these expressions through art can be so effective and rewarding. This class will give you the confidence to draw expressive people of all shapes and sizes, genders and ages, providing you with the tools to design unique characters and pose them consistently.

I'll be using pencil and paper as well as the iPad Pro and Procreate to demonstrate this class, but feel free to use whatever materials or software you're most comfortable drawing with. While I'll be explaining my process in Procreate as I go along, the primary intention of this class is to teach you how to draw people using any medium, so I won't be covering too many technical aspects of the software.

I look forward to seeing you in class!

Music: Green Tea by Smith The Mister


Want to take your skills to the next level? Check out this class next:

Meet Your Teacher

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Sarah Holliday


Top Teacher

I'm Sarah, an illustrator based in Scotland. My work celebrates nature, imagination and magical moments, aiming to spark a sense of wonder and whimsy in the viewer. I graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design with a BDes (honours) in Animation in 2016, and have been freelancing since 2019.

Empowering other creatives to develop their illustration skills is a big part of my work. I love sharing what I've learned with the Skillshare community and helping my students to develop their creative practice.

Ps. Stay updated on new and upcoming classes by following me here on Skillshare and Instagram, and signing up to my newsletter (you'll get my favourite Procreate brush as a thank you gift!).

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1. Introduction: To me, illustration and visual art in general is all about communicating something that can't be said just by using words. And being able to draw dynamic and expressive people is a really impactful way to communicate your message and your story. As humans, we communicate so much through body language and being able to translate that into your work can allow you to add a deeper level of relatability to your illustrations. It's often tricky to know where to begin when drawing and posing the body so having a set of techniques to simplify the process is incredibly helpful. In this class I'm going to be teaching you how to design and pose stylised human characters with unique body shapes. We'll warm up by making some quick gesture studies and cover realistic human proportions. Then we'll design some characters with unique body shapes and look at how to pose them, before going on to create several dynamic poses for one of your characters at the end of the class. My name is Sarah Holliday and I'm an illustrator from Scotland. My own work is very colourful and character-based and I like to use the human form a lot to communicate emotions and personify concepts. I love using bright colours, grainy textures and quirky details to add a sense of charm and lightness to my work. I'm really excited to teach you some of the tips and tricks that I use in my own practice to design and pose my characters and show you how you can translate these into your own work in order to take your character illustration skills to the next level. This class is for anyone who wants to learn how to draw and pose people more confidently and to establish more personality into their character illustrations. So whether you're a total beginner or just looking to brush up on your character drawing skills, I'm sure there's something to be learned at all levels here. This class will give you the confidence to draw expressive people of all shapes, sizes, genders, and ages, providing you with the tools to design unique characters and pose them consistently. To take this class, you need your preferred drawing tools. Personally, I'll be using my sketch book as well as my iPad Pro with Procreate but feel free to use whatever medium you're most comfortable with. 2. What We'll Be Doing In Class: Today's class is going to be broken down into several exercises before we start in our class project. We're going to start off with our warm up exercise which is gesture drawing. That will get us familiar with drawing the human body in different positions. Then we'll move on to look at realistic body proportions, and how we can use this as the basic model to stylise in our designs. Then we'll look at how to stylise the form using shapes and do a quick exercise to create as many different body shapes as we can. We'll then take a few of our favourite body shapes and make these into more refined character designs ready for posing. Then we'll take one or two of those designs onto practice posing before moving on to our class project, where we are going to be illustrating several dynamic poses. I've chosen this as our class project as I think it's a great way to combine all the skills that we're going to learn in this class. What we're really focusing on throughout this class is how to create really unique body shapes, and then how to apply those onto dynamic poses. So feel free to join me in completing these exercises as we go along, or you might want to watch the whole class through and then come back and do these exercises one-by-one. There's quite a lot to cover, so feel free to spread these exercises out over several sittings. I'm going to be using my sketchbook and my iPad Pro with Procreate, but feel free to use whatever materials you like. The concepts I'm going to be covering are not media specific, so it doesn't matter too much. Make sure you have your preferred drawing tools available and a comfortable space to work at. I actually can't wait to see what you create. If you're ready, let's get started and I'll see you in the next lesson. 3. Gesture Drawing: Our first lesson is going to focus on gesture drawing. Gesture drawing is a quick simple study that aims to capture the essential movement, and pose of the subject, which in this case is the figure. This is mainly to get us warmed up and familiar with drawing the human form before we move on to some of the more technical aspects. There's absolutely no pressure here, don't worry about creating a perfect image. Instead we're just trying to understand the movement and form of these poses, and this will become more natural to you the more that you practice this exercise. I'm going to be using a pencil and paper for this exercise so that I'm less tempted to go back and undo mistakes, but feel free to use whatever materials you're most comfortable with. I'll also be using a website called line-of-action.com, which is a great resource for making timed gesture and figure studies. You can choose what type of images you want to study from and set your preferred time interval for each image. I'm going to set the timer to 30 seconds for each drawing, and fill a page in my sketchbook with several of these drawings. Within that time limit we're going to try to capture the essence of the pose without going into too much detail. So let's get started. I'm just starting off by mapping out the main skeleton of the pose. Essentially I'm starting with a stick figure and building up the flesh on top of that. You can see here that I started out by mapping out the angle of his body which is positioned forwards, and he's leaning his weight on that front leg. I've made sure to capture that weight transfer as well as noticing this curve that is created between his two arms. It really helps to notice shapes and curves and how they're all working together to build these forms. I usually start from the torso and build up all the limbs and the head around that. That way I can use the torso as an anchor or a marker from which to place the other body parts. It'll also help me to keep more even proportions when I'm drawing the body. I'm keeping my lines quite decisive and just trying to capture the main gesture of the pose. We don't really have time to put any detail into the face or hands. It's more about drawing the relationship of the body and the limbs, and how they are working together to form the pose. A really important part of this exercise is not just the drawing or the marks that you're making. It's about learning how to observe these movements, understand what's going on, and then translate that into marks on the paper. We're doing all this under quite a time pressure. If you get a bit flustered at first, don't worry about that at all. Just do what you can and you'll improve after doing these exercises several times. Also don't worry about capturing the whole movement. Sometimes the time interval will run out and you'll only have completed a faction of the pose, and that's totally fine too because we're still learning from that. Try to notice the angles that the limbs are placed in relation to each other and notice if there's any twisting or bending of the spine going on. Be aware of where the weight of the body is being supported or transferred in the pose and if there's any movement going on. I know that's quite a lot to think of while you're drawing and observing and you're under such a tight time limit but it might be that you're just subconsciously aware of all these things. You don't need to think too hard about it while you're drawing, they're just all things to be aware of and maybe you'll only be able to draw stick figures at the moment during this time frame but the drawing result is not really the important part right now. It's the lessons of observation and internalising these movements. Feel free go on for as long as you like with this exercise. I usually just try to fill a page, but it's up to you how long you want to go on for. You can also try longer figure studies, or maybe even shorter ones. That will challenge you in different ways. By doing longer figure studies, you'll be able to observe more about muscular structure and fat distribution and you'll be able to get more detail into your hands and faces. The shorter exercises are really just about capturing the pose and the very basic form. And you can see that I haven't erased any mistakes. If I have made a mistake then I've just simply corrected it by redrawing the line where I think it should go instead. Don't worry about making mistakes either. That's all part of the learning process, and I would just recommend moving on rather than obsessing over correcting any mistakes. I'm also keeping my drawings quite small since I don't have much time to draw them, and that just allows me greater control over my mark making. Let's stop that there because we're running out of space on the page. You can see that my drawings are kind of a scribbly mess with incomplete body parts in some cases. But I've captured the essential gesture and you can clearly see what's going on within each drawing. If you can manage to communicate your poses clearly in this exercise, then that's exactly what we're looking for. Now that we've warmed up a bit and familiarised ourselves with drawing the human form, let's move on to look at how the body is built up in more detail. 4. Basic Proportions & Body Variation: I'm going to talk about proportions now and how these differ between genders and age groups and some things to be aware of. Our proportions can differ a lot between individuals, but I'll just quickly cover some main points. A common way to measure our body proportions is to use the head as a unit of measurement. The head to body ratio vary slightly depending on height, with average person being around seven and a half heads tall. But splitting the body into eight heads size units just gives us an easy guide to begin exploring proportions because the different landmarks fall quite neatly into that template. For example, we can say that our head takes up the first unit, our shoulders sit about a third of the way down the second unit, our waist, elbows and belly button, lie at around three heads down, our hips, crotch, and wrists fall around foreheads down, our fingertips can come to about five heads down or halfway down the thighs when they're fully stretched, our knees rest at just about that six heads mark, and our ankles lie just above our feet at the bottom of the body. The main physical difference in shape between your average adult male and female, is the shape of the torso. You can see that the male has a slightly wider shoulder width and smaller hips than the female, with a less defined waistline, whereas the female has more of an hourglass shape, with the shoulders and hips being about the same width where the smaller waistline. Fat can be distributed definitely on different bodies, it really depends on the individual and their body composition. It's helpful to study lots of different types of body shapes from reference, so that you'll become familiar with a whole range of realistic body shapes. Muscle is also similar in that the distribution and appearance depends largely on an individual's genetics and lifestyle. But generally, a muscular person will have quite a defined and sculpted body. Let's look at the proportions of children now because our proportions change quite a lot as we age throughout childhood. When we're babies, our heads are very large compared to our body, with our limbs being very small and choppy. Then as we age, our head grows quite slowly with our limbs and body growing quickly in comparison, with our muscle and body composition becoming leaner and more defined as we age throughout puberty and into adulthood. As we become elderly, our spine begins to compress and our muscle composition weakens. So the body will become shorter and the muscles less supple and defined, with areas of fat becoming saggy as the skin loosens and gravity takes its toll. When it comes to posing people, it helps to have an understanding of our joints and what their limitations are. These joints all work in slightly different ways. For example, we have hinge joints at the knee and elbow which only move along one axis, much like the motion of a door opening and closing, whereas our ball and socket joints at the shoulders and hips have a much wider range of movement. We also have a pivot joint which allows the forearm to twist. Other joints are in our wrist, ankles, fingers and toes, which have various ranges of movement. Another important part of the body to be aware of is the spine and the range of movement that it provides. It can bend forwards and backwards, towards the sides of the body and it can twist slightly. It helps our head to move, and it helps to hold everything together in the body so it's a really important part of anatomy to be aware of when it comes to posing. If you want, you could try familiarising yourself with each of your joints and your own body, and test their natural range of motion. Everyone's going to have different limitations, so just bear that in mind. I'll leave some diagrams for you to download as references in the class resources, and next we're going to go over how to draw some realistic proportions. 5. Drawing Realistic Proportions: Now I'm going to go over how to draw some realistic proportions and this is a totally optional exercise so if you'd rather just watch me and absorb the information, that's totally fine. I just want to go over these basic proportions as I'll help you later on if you have some knowledge of these before we go about stylising the form. First of all, let's draw our grid, which is broken down into head 8 size units. I'll just draw a quick circle and use that to help me measure my units so that they're all the same size, but you can also achieve these measurements roughly by halfing your line a few times until you have eight roughly equal segments. Then we'll bring these lines across to form our grid and I'll get rid of these circles, then I'll go ahead and number my grid from zero at the top to eight at the bottom. Now we're just going to draw our medial line so this will be the centre of our body. Let's start off by blocking out of rough circle for the head. Then we'll draw in our shoulders, which will fall roughly just before halfway down that second unit. And we're drawing the female form which has a shoulder width of about 2.5 heads. So you can roughly work that out and bear in mind if we were drawing the male form we'd make our shoulder width a bit wider. Then let's draw in our belly button at three heads down in the centre of our body. We can roughly map out the hip area, which is around four heads down. Our elbows are just above three heads and our wrists are just underneath four heads down beside our hips than our knees fall just above six heads. Of course our ankles are almost at the bottom of our body above our feet. Now that we have our main joints blocked and we can join these altogether to form our lens. Let's leave a rough oval to mark where our hands will go. When our fingers are outstretched, they'll come to about halfway down the thighs to that five heads down mark. When you're mapping out the legs, if you connect the hips and the knees with a curved line from the outside of the hips to the inside of the knees, and the outside of the knees to the inside of the ankles, that will help you when you're building up your curves around those joints and help achieve a more natural shape to your leg. Our waist is a bit above that third line and lines up roughly with our elbows. Now that I've mapped out my main joints and limbs, let's start fleshing out the body. So I'm creating some curves in the arms to accentuate the forearm muscles and create a more natural feel, then I'm blocking out the torso a bit more and defining the waistline. I'll add in our crotch area at about our foreheads down mark too at the widest part of the hips. I'll also define our legs, curving out at the thigh and calf muscles, and curving in around that knee. That's where having mapped out our lines previously will help you. You can see that on the inside of our leg the flesh curves in underneath the knee joint, whereas on the outside it curves in a bit higher up. I'll also add in the feet which I'll face out to the side a bit in a triangular shape. I'm defining the breasts with a couple of curves which rest about halfway down the upper arm, and then I'm attaching the neck to the head, which curves upwards from the shoulders. I'll just define that face shape a little bit more to create a more egg like shape with a more pointed chin. When it comes to drawing the face, our eyes are placed about halfway down the head. And our nose begins at about eye level and finishes about halfway between the eyes and the chin. Our mouth is placed about halfway between the bottom of the nose and the chin. Our ears are placed from the top of the eyes to the bottom of the nose at the sides of our head, so they're usually the same length as the nose. Then we can draw in our hands. Our fingertips will come down to the middle of the thigh at five heads down, our nipples are placed at about two heads down. We can go ahead and draw in the collarbone which comes in between these two shoulders below the neck, and then let's tidy up any rough edges. We can now move on to our side view. So let's draw our medial line first and create a new layer to work on. Now we have the benefit of using our front view as reference for placing our body parts. The important thing to remember is that our spine comes down in a kind of S-shape when you're in a standing position. If you just draw a slight curve and then we can build up a bean shape around that to make up the torso area here and pad out some of the flesh, so our shoulders will land about here, and our arms are going to be bent a little bit in a relaxed position. Our legs also come down in a slight curve with our upper leg in front and our lower leg slightly behind, and then we can build up our flesh based around that. When building up this side leg, you can use curved and straight lines and opposition to create that curved leg dynamic. We'll draw in the foot facing forward as well. So notice that the shin area, the bottom of the leg is behind our medial line here. This just provides balance to the rest of the body when we're in an upright standing position. Let's flesh out the arms again using curves to define the forearms. We can go ahead and draw in the facial features by referencing our front view. I'll just rub out some of that sketchiness so that we can see this view a bit more clearly. I'll give her some eyebrows as well and a bit of a hairline. Now we've sketched out the main bulk of our body. I'll just go and clean up all these lines so that it's a bit clearer to make out. So by taking a bit of time to learn and understand these proportions, you'll be able to internalize them so that you wouldn't need to think about them too hard when you're drawing and designing your characters. Using this grid system is really just for demonstration purposes and to help you get a feel for these proportions. It's great to have something like this to hand as a reference, but you won't want to be drawing out a grid every time you need to draw a person, you'll probably want to be a bit looser and quicker, especially when you're making your sketches. So I'll go over a simpler way to do this in the next lesson. And of course, you don't need to stick to these rules if you want to create something really stylized. You can always experiment with exaggerating certain proportions and what effect that has on your design, but before you can do that effectively, it really helps to have a grasp on these main proportions. Take a bit of time to soak up this information, and then we'll go on to look at how we can stylise shapes and proportions to create some unique and stylised designs. Now that we've covered the basic proportions of the body, let's move on to look at some fun stylisation techniques. 6. Stylising The Form: Now that we've gone over how to construct some realistic body proportions, I'm going to demonstrate how we can stylize our body shapes to create some unique designs in our next exercise. Firstly, I'll go over the two basic shapes that we can think of when drawing the male or female torso. Generally the female form has about the same shoulder and hip length with a smaller waistline forming an hourglass shape. While the male form has wider shoulders and slimmer hips without a defined waistline. These are really the two starting shapes that you can think of when you want to draw either of these basic forms. But there's a whole range of ways that you can create body variation with different shapes and we'll cover that soon. Once we have our basic torso shape, we can then sketch out the limbs of the body using that shape to help inform our decisions. You can see here that, and firstly, just mapping out some lines for the legs. These can be any length you like. Then we can build up the flesh around that. You can make these as curved or straight as you like. Then I'm just doing the same with the arms by mapping out some lines and then blocking in the shoulders and then our flesh of the arms as well. You can roughly mark with the elbow in the middle of the arm. I've got that elbow roughly aligned with the waste. Then I'll just quickly sketch out some hands and make sure those hands come to about halfway down the thigh as well. Then I'll roughly sketch out the head and then attach those shoulders to the head by creating a curved line up towards the head and drawing in the neck. I'll sketch out some ears as well. Now that I have that rough body shape, I can start defining a few more curves and adding in any details that I feel like. These curves are helping to create some flow and enhance the aesthetic appeal of our character. I don't want to have too many straight lines because that can make the body look quite stiff. I'm trying to get a nice balance between using curves and straight lines. I'll do the same with our female form here. Again, I'm using that shape to inform the curve of the legs and then fleshing out the shape of the leg on top of that. I'm keeping it very rough to begin with and then cleaning the shape up a bit more once I have a better idea of what's working. Then I'm blocking in the shoulders, mapping out the arms, and blocking out the head as well. Then I'll go ahead and flesh out these body parts again. It doesn't really matter which order you decide to draw this end, but the main idea is to draw the really rough shape before you start adding in more definition and details. Having that knowledge of proportions really helps to create a believable body shape. Even though I'm not specifically measuring anything, I'm just roughly making sure that the elbows line up at the waist and the belly button, that the arms end about halfway down the thigh and the breast lie about halfway between the waste and the shoulders. If you have that basic knowledge of these proportions, then you can stylize whatever shapes you want to and still maintain a believability in your designs. You can see how these very basic shapes that we started with have really helped to inform and influence our designs to create very distinctive body shapes. We can do the same thing by starting off with really any torso shape, which we can build up from combinations of really basic shapes. We have our squares, circles, triangles, and inverted triangles. Then we can stretch these or squash these. You can see that if we use these shapes either by themselves or in combination with each other, we're going to have lots of options to work with. I'll just demonstrate this technique for you now as our exercise in the next lesson will be based on this. To begin with, I'm just drawing a few random shape combinations and you can make these different sizes as well. I'm trying to create variation between these shapes. So the same as before. I'll start by adding on our legs and defining the torso shape a bit more. You don't have to directly trace this torso shape, but just use these shapes to help influence your design. Once I have my main shapes blocked out, I'll just double-check on my proportions. If you do this exercise a lot, it will become much easier for you to recognize if something looks a bit off so that you can correct it. Don't feel that you need to stick to the rules of proportion. You can just play around with what feels good for you and don't worry about making a few rubbish ones to begin with. In fact, I would encourage you to start off by making a few rubbish ones and just get out of your system. Using two shapes in combination gives us more of a complex body shape. But if you want to create really simple characters or draw kids, for example, then using only one shape for the torso or might work better for you. Children have much less definition and shape in their torso. Using just one shape there usually works best. If we line these all up, it'll be easier for us to see the difference between each of these characters. You might want to play around with squashing or stretching your bodies to create a bit more variety as well. The main idea here is to really push these body shapes to inspire characters that are a bit different from our default. In the next lesson we're going to use this technique to create lots of different body shapes that we can then choose from for our character designs. 7. Designing Character Body Shapes: What we're doing this next exercise is creating loads of really unique body shapes and trying to create variation between different heights, genders, age groups, and body types. By the end of this exercise, we're going to choose a few of our favourite designs to develop further into characters. First of all, let's sketch out a few different shapes to begin with, and you can make these different sizes. We've got our circles, our squares, and triangles and different variations of these, and then we can sketch out some secondary shapes underneath those to form the foundation for our character's body shapes. I'm using a red colour here so that it'll be easier for me to differentiate between layers when it comes to the next step. I'm creating a new layer and changing my brush colour to black now, and then the same as in our previous lesson I'm mapping out the legs and building up the flesh around that, and again, I'm using that body shape to inform the shape of the legs. You can see here that curve is continuing on from the waist curving around the hip and flowing into the thigh area. This just helps to unify the body shape and create a more appealing design if each body part can flow seamlessly into the next. I've built up the curves of the legs by having one side curving out around the thigh and calf muscle and keeping the inner part of the leg straight. Sometimes I'll add curves on both sides of the legs, or sometimes I'll just have straight lines to define the legs, and you might have other ways that you'd like to stylise or you might want to take a more realistic approach, so that's totally up to you. Then I'm just mapping out the arms with some quick lines and the head with a rough circle, and I'll flesh out those arms using curves to help define the muscles and sketch out a rough shape for the hands and thumbs. If you want you can enhance your shapes by using clothing as well, or you can just focus on the body shape right now and experiment with clothing later on in the next stage, and you can do the same thing with hair if you want as well. Once you have your rough body shape down just move on to the next design as soon as possible, and don't bother perfecting anything at this stage. We'll just continue to do the same thing for each of these body shapes and try to create lots of variation between them. You could create some really muscular people, some chubby people, skinny, curvy, tall, small, old, young, and there's loads of variation that you can achieve even within these groups, so just have fun playing with shapes and keep on going for as long as you want until you're happy that you've got some fun characters to choose from. Just play around and experiment, and don't spend too long on each design, just try to be quick and loose. This is really just a fun exercise to see how much variation we can add to the body, and how we can push these shapes while still maintaining a believable and relatable character. You may want to exaggerate your shapes even more than I have here, and depending on your style you might want to do something really abstract or maybe more realistic looking, that's all totally up to you. Just make sure to have fun with it and play around with what works best for you. Hopefully that was a fun exercise for you and you've managed to come up with a whole range of really unique body shapes. Go ahead now and choose two or three of your favourite designs, and then we'll develop these further into more refined characters in the next lesson. 8. Refining Our Character Designs: What we're going to do now is clean these characters up, balance out their proportions and add any required details to create more appealing and relatable characters, which we can then take onto posing. I've taken three of my favorite characters from the previous exercise. I've tried to choose characters that have quite a different shape language from each other and variation in their body shapes. So, let's get into it. I'm starting off by lowering the opacity of my sketch layer and creating a new layer for my line work. From there, I'm just going to go over my initial design with clean lines and balance out any proportions which feel a bit off. I'm following along these curves and trying to get some nice smooth lines. And I'm trying to make my character look a bit more symmetrical and define the body shape so that it'll be easier to recreate these shapes when we start posing. We're tweaking anything that isn't flowing or balanced quite right at this stage and injecting more appeal into these designs. I'm going to shorten these arms a bit to help even out this character's proportions. I'll also put more detail into these hands. We're trying to improve upon our under sketch. You can trace over the parts that you think work well and you can alter and accentuate any areas that you think need to be improved. I'm solidifying any rough areas so that when it comes to posing our characters, we'll have a solid design and shape language to work from. You might need to take a bit of time to get everything right at this stage. Remember to just consider how your character will look when they're moving. You want to create a versatile design that you'll be able to visualise from different angles. I'm using quite simplified shapes so that when it comes to redrawing this character, it will be easy for me to maintain a consistency in their design. We're aiming for a balance between just enough details to create an interesting shape and an intriguing character without overdoing it. I'm also adding in some details at this stage, such as facial features, hair and any clothing and accessories which will help give our character a bit more personality and interest. You can use hair to help exaggerate your character's shape too. I'm going to give this character some quite big curly hair. But I'm still keeping the shapes fairly simplified and I'll just add a few curls to help allude to the texture of the hair. I'm going to add some very simple facial features and I'm echoing this character's circular shape language by giving her a kind of button nose and some full lips. Using clothing can be a great way to accentuate your shapes. For example, if you gave your character some really big trousers, that will totally change their shape, or a really big jacket or something. You can use clothing quite playfully in that way. But we're not going to overdo it with clothing in this class. I'm going to try to stick mainly to the body shape. I'm going to move on to clean up my other two characters. We're just going to be doing the same thing. Cleaning up the shapes, adding and accentuating details and creating an appealing and solid design. This is really where you can inject your own style into this part of the class and make some characters that you'll be happy to draw repeatedly when it comes to posing them. Try to keep them quite simplified for that reason. If you make your character too complex, it will be a lot harder for you when it comes to drawing them over and over again. You can see that I'm just giving my characters very simple facial features and quite minimal details when it comes to hair and clothing and the overall body shape. Again, that's up to you how much detail you want to add, depending on your style and how comfortable you are with redrawing these details in different positions. Another thing to bear in mind with your designs is whether your character has loose clothing or hair that we'll need to consider adding movement to when it comes to our posing. This can actually help add an extra element of energy and interest to our poses when it's done well. That's something you might want to consider adding when you're refining your characters at this stage. But I'd recommend to only have a couple of these loose elements at most so that it doesn't end up distracting from your overall poses. Now, I'm just making some final tweaks and making sure my characters are well balanced and appealing. I'm quite pleased with these characters now, I think that they're all quite visually different, which gives me some nice body variation to work with and they are simple enough that I'll be confident in redrawing them in our next exercises. A way to test whether your designs are varied and readable enough is to place your artwork away from you or shrink it right down so your characters are really small. If you can see clear differences between your designs, then that's a good sign. Once you're happy with your finalised designs and you've got a good balance between form and style. Then let's move on to the next lesson where we're going to be creating character poses. 9. Creating Character Poses: Now I'm going to go over how to create character poses using reference. I'll go over my process as well as some helpful things to consider when you're going about doing this. So I've gone ahead and gathered some reference images with people doing different activities, bending and stretching the body in different ways and bearing their weight on different parts of the body so that I've got some variety to work with. You can use any brush that you want and I'm just going to be using a red colour to start with, so that it's going to be easier for me to distinguish between each stage when it comes to applying my character's form on top. I like to begin by marking out the main structure of the pose and noticing any curving body parts and the relationship between the limbs. In this pose, I've marked out the legs with one long curve and then I've drawn in the remaining body parts with respect to that. I've just used one curve again for the arms flowing into each other and I've avoided using straight lines to help capture a more natural and flowing feel in this pose. In this next pose, I'm starting off by drawing in the bend of these legs. You can really start anywhere in the pose, maybe the part which is most interesting to you and then build upon it. I'm getting that curved bend of the spine in and then bringing that arm down over the legs. If it helps you at this stage, you can block out the torso, but still keep it simple because we may want to make changes. You can check if your pose is communicating the action well enough and if not, you might want to make some tweaks or push the body further. You can see here that I've just accentuated the back bend in this pose, which makes the action clearer. In this next pose, we have quite a clear zigzag shape going on from his leg to his back, and his arms and head are following the flow of the curve back and then I'm lastly adding in that back leg. Again, I'm just noticing shapes and the relationship and flow between all of these limbs. I'll just speed up these next few poses and I'm just doing the same as before. Noticing any shapes that are made by these body parts and any curving and flowing of the body. Usually there will be some curving in the spine area, so make sure to capture that as well and you can also consider the positioning of your feet. If it helps you to visualise better the movement of the body, then you can refer a torso shape, but that's up to you. Make sure you're regularly comparing these poses against your reference images. They don't have to be exact, but we want them to be communicating that same energy and action. You only need to use very few lines to map these out to begin with. We want to be able to capture this gesture in its most simple form before we move on. Now that we've figured out these main gestures, we can bring in the character that we want to pose. If you want, you can quickly sketch out a side view of your character, and it doesn't need to be anything too detailed, it's just to help us imagine that shape of our character from different angles. This isn't absolutely necessary, but it will help you just to visualise that a bit more. Let's block out the direction of the hips and the upper torso using three-dimensional blocks so that we can visualise the twisting of the body a bit more before we apply our forms. I'm looking at my reference photo and noticing the direction that the hips are facing, and I'm just going to draw in the three-dimensional block to correspond with that. Likewise with the rib-cage area. You can see here that our hips and shoulders are facing in different directions and there's slight twisting going on in the body. We'll move on to do the same thing to my next pose just blocking out that upper torso facing forwards and the hips are facing in the same direction, so there's not really any twisting going on here but there is some bending. In this next pose, there's a bit of foreshortening happening on the torso as it comes towards us, and there's a twisting in the hips, as well as that foreshortening. I'll go ahead and do the same thing with all of my poses now so I am just looking at my reference photos really regularly to figure these things out. It's common to have some squashing and stretching on opposite sides of the torso depending on the movement that's going on. So you can see in all of these poses, there's some compression on one side and some elongation on the other side. Now let's apply the forms of our character onto these poses so you can break your character down into whatever shapes help you visualise best. I'm breaking the torso down into similar shapes that I used in my body design exercise with this rectangular base and the top half of a triangle, and then our side view is a bean-shape. I'm on a new layer and I've changed my brush colour to black now. I'm just going to start off by blocking out the torso. I'm going to use that as my anchor for all the rest of my body shapes and proportions. I'm applying those shapes of my torso on top of this pose but I'm also bearing in mind the twisting and bending of the body and we're mainly seeing a lot of the back here and a bit of the side body, so this shape is going to be fairly thick bearing that in mind. I'm making this shoulder area wider than my body, reflecting my character design and I'm accentuating that bend in the lower back, so I'm trying to strike a balance between staying true to my character design while capturing the natural movement of this body position. Don't be afraid to squash and stretch different parts of your design to create a more natural and dynamic feel to your poses. From there, I'm going to draw the legs in, so this character has quite triangular shaped legs, which are quite thick at the top and narrow towards the bottom with some defined calf muscles. I'm applying those shapes over this pose and you can see those legs are quite long compared to our design, so I am going to draw them shorter. Just be remind that your character is probably going to have different proportions to your reference models, and that's something else to be aware of when applying your forms. I'm going to draw in this other leg now and even though we can't see the full leg, I'm going to sketch it all out anyway so that I know where it's going to begin to come into view and I can achieve more even proportions. I'll just finish off drawing in the leg defining that calf muscle and adding the foot. Then I'll draw in the arms defining my shapes with vagrant shoulders and muscular forearms. I'm just going to scribble out some rough shapes for the hands just now. I won't go into too much detail about how I draw my hands in this class so just feel free to do whatever you're most comfortable with, and you can just use simple shapes if you're not confident withdrawing more realistic hands. I'm just going to clean up any unnecessary lines and then I'll draw in the head and neck. We're mostly seeing the back of the head here. I'm going to turn off my previous sketch layer just so I can check quickly how my pose is looking without distractions now. Then I'll just turn them back on and lower the opacity so that I can still reference them without being as much of a distraction. Now I'll just clean these lines up a wee bit more and I'll add in some small details like some shoulder blades, a line defining the spine and any other details like clothing. I'm actually going to accentuate the bend in this back leg so instead of redrawing it again, I'm just going to use the selection tool and move it until it's in the position that I want. Then I'll tidy up some of these lines and define the shapes of the silhouette a bit more. Once I take away my under sketches, you can see that we pretty much have the shape of this character looking clear and consistent in regards to my character design. There are a few corrections to be made and areas that could be cleaned up, but the bulk of it is there so don't spend too long cleaning stuff up at the stage. Just focus on getting your proportions correct according to your design and keeping your forms and shapes looking natural and consistent. I'm going to do the same thing with each of my remaining poses, starting from the torso and building up my character's form over my initial sketches without being too influenced by my reference poses. I'm just trying to follow any squashing and stretching, twisting of the torso and any curving and bending of the limbs while being aware of the length and proportions of my character's body parts as well as their shape. So yeah, I think these all look like they're in proportion to each other and to our character. If you want, you can measure your character against these poses to double-check all your proportions. See in this one, our legs are still a bit too long, so I'm just going to shorten them a bit by using the selection tool. Don't become too obsessive over your proportions, just get them all roughly the same, and as long as it looks like it's the same character, it doesn't need to be precisely the same proportions each time. Try to think of your pose in terms of if its silhouette is clear to read. If you want to check that you can just quickly colour in one of your poses black really roughly. The point is that we're just looking at the shape of the pose without any distractions of details or colour or line, and if you can clearly tell what's going on in the silhouette form, then that's a really good way to test that your poses are really clear and readable. So really the most important factors to consider when you're creating your poses is to make sure that they're really easy to read, that they convey the desired action, expression, and motivation of your character, that they have a natural unbelievable feel and they're appealing to look at. Now that we've covered all of these main techniques, we're ready to move on to the class project so I'll go over that with you in the next lesson. 10. Class Project: Preparation: Now we're ready to put all the techniques that we've just learned into action in our class project. So choose one of your characters, and we're going to create several dynamic poses for this character. Your poes can focus on a particular activity or a series of activities or expressions, just try to get a range of different movements. So just bear that in mind when you're looking for your reference images. Feel free to interpret this project in your own style. I'm going to be taking more of an illustrative approach, but if you want to be more sketchy or more painterly, then that's totally up to you. I'd encourage you to put your own personality into this piece and just have fun with it. The main thing we're trying to achieve is a consistency in our character throughout these poses and to communicate dynamic actions and expressions. I'll be using Procreate to complete this project. But again, feel free to use whatever software or medium you want. Go ahead and gather some reference images for your piece. You may want to have one overarching theme or expression. For example, I'm going to be drawing dancing poses. You might want to choose a specific sport or an activity like painting or reading, or an emotion like joy or sadness, or just a mixture of any of these. You can find these references by searching on Google, Pinterest, or freeze framing on YouTube. Or you might even want to take some photos of yourself or a friend in various poses. There really are a lot of options for gathering your reference images. As you can see, I've decided to choose a variety of really dynamic dancing poses that I think will compliment each other while also being really varied. That's really going to challenge me when I'm drawing my character in these poses. Once you've got all your references together and you're ready to begin, then let's get started. 11. Class Project: Sketching Our Poses: I've opened up an A4 sized canvas and this is set to RGB 300 dpi. I'm going to paste in my character. This is the character I'm going to be posing for this piece, just like we've done previously, we're going to be sketching out the bare-bones of the poses and making some quick thumbnail drawings to begin with. I'll just start a new layer and I'll draw my initial sketches in red. I'm starting by sketching out the skeletons. I'm capturing the alignment of the body coming down and quite a straight vertical line and the other leg is coming out to this site. I'm mapping all those angles and capturing the bend in the leg. Same with the arms, I'm capturing those angles and I'll map out the feet with a couple of curves too. Once I have this stick figure drawn out, then I'll create a new layer, change my color to black, and then I can start building up my character's shapes on top. If it helps you to block out the direction of the chest and the hips, then absolutely feel free to do that. I'm skipping that step this time and just remembering to be aware of it when applying my forearms. In this pose we have some overlapping of the legs, you can see that I've drawn in the heading part of the leg, behind that one in front just to get an idea of where it's appearing from. We have a twisting and the torso. I'm bearing that in mind too. We've got the foreshortening going on with that right forearm coming towards us as well. If your character has any hair or loose clothing, you can use that to create a bit more movement and show the direction that your characters come from. That's another trekked out a bit more life and energy to your drawing. Feel free to edit anything that looks a bit strange or wonky in your pose, but once you're satisfied with all the main proportions and shapes, you can sketch out some additional details like facial features and clothing. Now we'll do the same thing with our other references until you have quite a few of these thumbnail poses to choose between, to take onto our final piece. Again, while I'm sketching these, I'm considering everything like the angles of the lens, foreshortening overlap, the movement of the joints and spine, and how they're all working together and these poses. We have quite a range of different poses here. You can see that I've just scribble the shapes and pretty loosely. In some cases I've had to shorten the legs because on our design they're a bit shorter than the model in our reference photos. Take a look at your drawings at this stage and make sure that the action is quite clear. If it's not, you might want to make a few changes and maybe exaggerate some of your poses, but if you're happy with them so far, then let's move on. We're just going to tidy up these layers so that everything is neater, then we'll lay out these poses a bit more nicely to create a balanced composition for our illustrations. I'm going to select the poses that I want to take on to my final composition, I'll just copy and paste them so that they're each on a separate layer for laying them out on the page. I'll get rid of our original character to design number two. Now, will lay out our composition and try to get our fingers as evenly spaced so as possible. You might need to spend a bit of time playing around at this stage, and you might want to flip some poses horizontally so that they fit in better. It stays in for at least four or five character poses in your composition, but if you want to do more or less, and that's fine too. We're going to go ahead and merge these altogether, so they're on the same layer. I'll just delete our previous sketches. I'll keep our original character there just for reference. We can check our proportions against our original design just to check that we have that consistency and other poses. Sketching out our poses is really the most important stage, if you need to spend a bit more time getting your overall proportions and gestures looking consistent and dynamic. I would really advise doing that while we're still in this early stage. If something's not working for you, then don't be afraid to scrap it and start over. Saying that, try not to worry about fixing tiny details right now because we're going to clean these sketches up in the next stage. 12. Class Project: Cleaning Up Our Sketches: Okay, so let's start cleaning up our sketches. So I'm going to lower the opacity to about halfway on our rough sketch, and I'm just going to add a new layer. I'm using the mercury brush, which can be found in the inking folder in Procreate. Just a hard brush with a slightly textured edge. So what we're doing here is just cleaning up these rough sketch marks and getting ready for the colouring stage. So I have my character design and my reference poses available on my laptop to look at as I'm working. So I'm just tracing over my original sketch on a new layer with clean lines and making any required corrections as I go. Now once you've tidied up all your poses and got your characters quite consistent, you can look back and see if you want to add any details anywhere. I'm going to add a little bit more detail to the hair to create a bit more energy and movement, and when we look at that in the silhouette form it just adds some more interest and style. So if you want to add any details like that, then go ahead at this stage. I'm really happy with these poses, but I'm just going to flip the canvas, and see if that'll help me notice anything I might have overlooked. By flipping the canvas horizontally, that will help you see your drawing with a fresh eye so that you'll be able to notice anything that looks a bit off. This trick really helps me when I've been looking at my work for a really long time and I become so familiar with my drawings that it's harder to notice any mistakes. So by doing this, it just helps you look at your work from a fresh perspective. If you're working on paper, then you can try doing the same thing by turning your page upside down. There are a few things that I'm just going to tweak that I've noticed only just now after doing this, and by making these alterations at this stage, it saves us a lot of work further down the line, rather than going ahead and finishing your piece and then having to backtrack and make changes. If you're ready, let's move on to the next stage. 13. Class Project: Creating a Stylised Silhouette: Next, I'm going to turn these poses into stylised silhouettes so that I can then colour them in my style. Feel free to follow along with my colouring process or you might have your own process and your own style that you want to use, so either is fine. I'm just going to duplicate my linework layer so that I can reference that later on. So if you're going to follow along with me, make sure you do that because we're going to use the Fill Dropper tool within this linework to build up a silhouette. So basically, I'm just dropping that black colour within my linework and filling everything in until I have some clear silhouettes to work with. We really want our silhouettes at this stage to clearly communicate these actions and I think we can tell what's going on in each of these silhouettes. So if you're poses aren't too clear, you might want to tidy them up at this stage and ensure that they're readable and dynamic. I'm just going to tidy up a few small messy bits here and then, I'm going to add a bit more detail into my silhouettes. To do that, let's create a layer mask on this silhouette layer. I'm going to bring my previous linework layer above these silhouettes, and I'll create a clipping mask over that layer and fill it in white, just so I can see what's happening. Then I'll lower the opacity on that linework layer. I'll select the layer mask and make sure my brush colour is set to black again. Now, I'm going to cut into our silhouette to help define our pose a bit more. I'm just tracing along these lines using our linework layer as a reference above. What we're doing here is basically using negative space instead of lines to help define the form a bit more. This is just a stylisation technique that I like to use sometimes. Just a bit of a tip if you're using the mask tool, is that when you're drawing with black that is taking away our image below the mask or masking it. Whereas if you set your colour to white, you can bring that image back again. So it's not as permanent a solution as using the eraser tool. And you can also turn that mask layer on and off so you can see the effect that it's having. Okay, we can turn off our linework layer above and just get rid of that. I duplicated the layer before, so I do still have a copy of it if I want to reference it again. You can see how this technique has added an extra bit of style to our poses. They already look quite good just like this, but I'm going to add some colours now and turn this into a vibrant illustration. 14. Class Project: Colouring: So what I'm going to do now is create a clipping mask above my silhouettes, and I'm going to choose the main color for her skin. So I'm just going to block out some random colors at the moment, and we'll play around with how they look after. Then we can start adding in all of our separate elements. So I'll start with the leggings and choose a bit of a darker color for those. So make sure all these colors are on a clipping mask layer above our main poses. I'm going to draw a loop, tracing along the lines of the leggings. I know you can't see it but I'm making a closed loop so that I can fill that in with my color. I'll do this for all of my leggings on that same layer. Then let's do this same thing with all of our separate elements, so our top, hair, hairband, and shoes. I'm just going to choose any color at the moment and then I can play around with them after. Once we have our main elements blocked in with different colors, let's play around with the palette a bit. So I'll go to Adjustments then Hue, Saturation, and Brightness, and play around with these levels. So really, when I'm choosing my colors, I'll randomly put down some different hues and values and I play around with that until I have a palette that looks really good to me. It's just quite an intuitive process and it depends on the feeling and mood that I want to come across. But generally, I'm drawn to quite vibrant and saturated colors. It's something that I spend quite a while pondering over because your choice of color scheme can change the whole atmosphere of your piece. I also tried to maintain contrast in the values of my colors. So this is how light or dark your color is. One technique I like to use is to create a new layer and fill it with a gray color and make sure this is above all of your other layers. I'll then set the layer mode to color so that I can view my work in gray scale. This will help you to see your values more clearly between the colors. So most of my colors here have a different value, creating some clear contrasts, apart from our top and skin color here, which are very similar in value. So I'm just going to change that top contrast a bit more. I'll either make it darker or lighter just to help it stand out more as a shape. So I'm going to lighten it and then we can turn that gray layer back on and check our values again. So you can see now that's much more distinguishable as a separate element from our skin. I'll just go ahead now and name my layers as they're starting to stack up a bit. So this'll help speed things up if I'm looking to edit a particular layer, and I'll just delete any layers that I don't need anymore and keep everything tidy and clean. Now we have our main colors and elements blocked in, let us move on to add some texture and details. 15. Class Project: Adding Texture, Detail & Final Touches: Now I'm going to start adding some texture and detail. I love using this riso brush set that I bought from Tip Top Brushes. It makes a really nice grainy texture. So that's what I'm going to be using here to add texture to my colouring. I'm going to begin by just turning off all my clipping mask layers apart from our first one, the skin layer. And I'll release that clipping mask and create a new layer, and turn that new layer into a clipping mask above our skin layer. What I'm going to do, is colour pick this colour and then I'll turn that layer white because we want some of that white to shine through underneath this grain to get that texture. I am just drawing with a large brush over this layer, and you can see how the white is shining through now. Then, let's duplicate that clipping mask layer a few times to make that colour a bit richer, and we can then merge those layers once we're happy with the intensity of that colour. Then we're going to merge the clipping mask with our colour texture down with the layer below. I'll then turn this layer back into a clipping mask over our silhouettes, and you can see how we've now got this lovely texture in that skin. So let's do this with all of our elements, and if they look like messy blobs just now, don't worry because we're going to turn them back into clipping masks soon. So let's colour pick, turn your layer white, we've got an empty layer clipping mask above, select your texture brush and we're just colouring in on top. And I use the clipping mask so that I can duplicate the texture a few times until that colour is as rich as I want it. Then merge your duplicated layers, merge those with your layer below, and turn that back into a clipping mask. And I'm just going to do the same thing with all of my elements now. So, now we've got some really nice texture in all of our components. It's looking a bit flat though, and we could do with a tiny bit of shading. So I'm going to use this RISO Texture Shader and we're working in a new clipping mask layer above our silhouettes here. So you can choose a kind of dark colour, and roughly shade around certain areas and bear in mind the general direction in which you want the light to be coming from. Then we're going to set that layer mode to Multiply, and we can play around with the hue a bit, and you can change the opacity depending on how intense you want it. Let's try adding a highlight. So do the same thing, except with a lighter colour this time and on the opposite side to your Multiply layer. Then let's choose what layer mode looks the best for the highlights. You can scrub through this list and try out different things. I'm going to set this to an overlay layer, and then we can play around with the hue and opacity as well. So you can see how this has just added a bit more depth and interest to your drawings. So let's add in our facial features now. I'll change my brush back to that mercury brush and I'll just colour pick the darkest colour for my piece, and then I'm going to draw in my features quite simply. So if you prefer to give your character a more detailed expression, then go ahead, I'm just keeping mine quite simple with the focus being on the poses. I'm going to add some harsher shadows as well to add a bit more definition. So I'll create a new layer and turn that into a clipping mask as well, and we'll stay with this mercury brush. We're just going to kind of follow along one side of the body to create this more solid shadow. So then let's turn that into a Multiply layer and lower the opacity. We can also change the hue and saturation a bit if we want to. Then I'm also going to add some rosy cheeks to bring my character to life a bit more. Now it's time to add some final touches and make this illustration look complete. I'm just going to add some flowing lines between these poses now to unify this piece and bring everything together, and I'm just drawing these lines between my characters and trying to create a nice flow between them all. And that is basically it. Once you've finished and you have a lovely completed set of character poses, you can export your image as a JPEG or PNG file. And don't forget to share it with us all in the project section of the class. 16. Final Thoughts: Hurray, we've reached the end of the class. I'm so proud of you guys for sticking with me this whole way. And I hope that I've been able to teach you some really good tips and tricks that you can take into your own practice to help you inject more life and energy into your character drawings. I'm so excited to see your creations so please share them with the class so that we can all take a look. I'd really encourage you to keep practicing these exercises and just experiment with what works for you. And if you keep making studies of the human body and learning more then you really begin to see great improvements in your character work. If you want to keep updated with my work and more classes, then follow me here and I'm also on social media @sarahholliday. Thank you so much for taking my class and hopefully I'll see you next time. Goodbye! 17. Bonus: Timelapse Video: No. No. No. No. So 321. 121. Oh, no. No. No. No. No.