Imaginative Drawing: Developing Concept Art Characters | Camilla D'Errico | Skillshare

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Imaginative Drawing: Developing Concept Art Characters

teacher avatar Camilla D'Errico, d'Errico Studios Ltd. Creative Director

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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.

      Project & materials


    • 3.

      Concepting & thumbnails


    • 4.

      Drawing your outlines


    • 5.

      Fleshing out your drawing: 1


    • 6.

      Fleshing out your drawing: 2


    • 7.

      Fleshing out your drawing: 3


    • 8.

      Finishing your drawing


    • 9.

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About This Class

Expand your imagination and the drawings in your sketchbook with celebrated comic artist Camilla D'Errico. In this 25-minute class, you will go into Camilla's studio and explore her sketchbooks, the elements of a character that inspire her, and the exercise she uses to bring more originality to her work, and attitude to her characters through pop-surrealism.

Watch Camilla create a completely new, original character by combining different features to compose a surreal, imaginitive concept. Camilla will start with reserach, then she will draw thumbnails of each of her ideas. She will then select the character she wants to bring to life as a final piece. You will watch Camilla build on her sketch and add essential character features to create a final, beautiful graphite drawing of a girl in her unique style.

Camilla approaches her work with the techniques of Manga art, but this class is exciting and applicable for illustrators and artists, and anyone who likes to draw. You will push your imagination and drawing skills to concept and create something completely new.


What You'll Learn

  • Introduction. In this lesson, you’ll learn how to combine styles and techniques from two art world genres: manga and pop surrealism. Camilla D'Errico will start by giving you a rundown on drawing artwork and getting together your concept.
  • Project and materials. For this kind of art, you’ll need basic tools like pencils, an eraser, and a sketchbook. You’ll learn the difference between hard and soft lead and how to choose pencils based on graphite thickness. Camilla will go over some tricks of the trade, like using a paintbrush and wearing old socks on your hands to prevent graphite smudging, along with other pencil drawing techniques.
  • Concepting and thumbnails. Time to throw physics out the window. You’ll watch Camilla embrace logic-defying designs as she conceives of her character. Starting with panels, you’ll learn to make a number of sketches before settling on your final idea. You will start by drawing out basic shapes before adding details to your character.
  • Drawing your outlines. You’ll begin your drawing with loose shapes and by laying out proportions before honing in on details. You’ll also learn how to draw manga faces by using crosshairs as facial maps.
  • Fleshing out your drawing: 1. Here you’ll learn pencil drawing techniques like using varying levels of pressure and crosshatching to create shadow. Camilla will demonstrate pencil strokes and show you how to choose and follow the guidelines of your drawing’s light source.
  • Fleshing out your drawing: 2. In watching Camilla draw a pattern onto a bowtie, you’ll learn how to depict the textured elements of your drawing by following the bumps and curves of fabric. You’ll also learn how to layer different elements of your drawing to show spatial relationships and how to “draw” with an eraser.
  • Fleshing out your drawing: 3. Camilla’s manga faces start and end with the eyes. In manga, noses and lips typically involve minimal definition, so the eyes have to pop. You’ll learn how to add highlights to your manga character’s eyes and the best techniques for filling in textured elements like hair and fur.
  • Finishing your drawing. Adding the final touches on your pop surrealist manga drawing means darkening up some lines. You’ll learn how to add definition between overlapping elements, focusing on strands of hair and the spots where different body parts and clothing elements meet. Camilla will give you ideas for future characters, reminding you not to be afraid to “mix birds and octopi and elephants and girls”—your surrealism can get even more surreal with practice.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Camilla D'Errico

d'Errico Studios Ltd. Creative Director


Camilla d’Errico is a product of her split heritage, Italian and Canadian rolled into one: Italian fiestiness, Canadian politeness, and an early addiction to Saturday morning cartoons, comics and manga. Growing up she was more often doodling sexy damsels and dragons on her textbooks than reading them. In 1998 when Camilla first attended her first San Diego Comic Con she realised that a 9–5 day job would kill her and this was what she wanted to do. Thanks to her relentless energy, dedication, and just enough sleep deprivation, she has followed her dream of working creatively for a living.

Camilla’s unique style continues to be in demand and her client list includes Dark Horse Comics, Image Comics, Random House, Tokyopop, Hasbro, Disney, Sanrio, Neil Gaima... See full profile

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1. Introduction: My name is Camilla d'Errico, and I am a manga artist, as well as a pop surrealist. I work in the comic book industry, doing graphic novels for film studios, and dark horse, as well as Random House. So, today, we are going to learn how to do one singular image that's based on manga and pop surrealism. So it blends the two together. I'm going to show you how to expand your imagination and I'm going to show you how to be inspired by different elements like animals and even pop culture. We're going to start from the beginning, so concept we're going to do a lot of little thumbnails. So, you can get all your ideas out. I'm going to show you the different materials that you're going to need, and then we're going to just go straight into the drawing, and we're going to do something really funky, really fun. So, I'm really excited. I hope you guys are too. So, let's just jump in. 2. Project & materials: Hey guys, it's time to start drawing. I thought I would show you guys an example of what we're going to do. So, this is a drawing that I'm going to be teaching you guys. If you have caught it, this is actually based on BioShock. So I want to talk to you now about step one, is the materials and set-up. We're going to need a couple of things. So first thing you're going to need is some paper and a sketch book. I've got multiple different kinds, so you can do these graphite drawings and anything, can be a small white paper, you can even work on tan paper. Pretty much anything. So, essentials are your pencils, of course. I've got a couple pencils here. My Bic pencil here is 0.5 and I also have little cute pencils that I picked up from the dollar store and they are 0.5 as well. So, the nice thing about graphite pencils is that you have 0.5 or 0.7 and that determines the thickness of your line. You can have soft leads as well as hard leads. The difference is that if you have a hard lead it won't smudge as much. Softer leads are very easy to smudge. I really like the way that Bic works because it's nice in-between, then you can also have refills. So, make sure that you have refills for your pencils because the last thing you want to do is run out of lead. I always have multiples so you don't run into that. The next thing you need is a white eraser. I really like the white erasers, there's tons of different kinds you can get. I think that the white one is the easiest to work with, it picks up the graphite really well and it doesn't smudge, it doesn't ruin it, it's really nice. It doesn't ruin the paper either which is a really important factor. This is something that not a lot of teachers or artists actually tell you but this is something that I use to clean up after I've erased the little bits. I use this to wipe off my drawing and that will keep you from smudging. One thing with graphite is that it's smudges very easily. So the last thing you want to do is use your hands to wipe off the debris. One thing I learned is to find little gloves and you cut the fingers off of them and then that will give you good grip for your pencils and then the fabric won't actually smear your paper. So, that's also a really good tip to have. If you can't find gloves, old socks are great. You just poke some holes in and you stick your hand in there. I was rocking socks, all through college it was great. So, those are your materials. One thing is you can also use larger sheets of paper. So this is what I will be working on for this particular lesson. The next thing you need to have with your materials and set-up is reference. So, I printed out a bird. This is something that you can do is print out your reference or if you have a laptop, say you want to draw an octopus. So just Google search octopus and then you'll have all of the reference on the screen because is if you can't remember what a dog looks like or what particular breed and you need that visual reference, your screen is the best thing you can have. IPhones are great for that too or just any smartphone. So, those are your materials and set-up and now we can move on to the second step. 3. Concepting & thumbnails: Okay, guys, let's get into step two. So, this is actually the fun part, but it's also, I'd say, one of the most difficult because you have to come up with your ideas. So, I'm going to show you my sketch book. This is it, and this is where I do all of my concepting and my sketching out of ideas. When you're doing mongrel, you're going to do pop surrealism. It's really blending two things together and drawing physics out the door. Like logic, gravity, nothing exists in pop surrealism. In fact, turning things upside down is one of the best ways that you can be creative in this particular style. So, what we're going to do is, I'm going to show you some of my concepts here. I'm going to show you how to thumbnail your ideas out. I never just go straight to my final product because I like to come up with a few ideas first and then see which one I like the best. So, this is the best thing you do. You just take your sketchbook and I draw out my panels here. Let's just call them panels. These represent my page. So, let's say for this particular image, I'm going to work with octopi. I love octopuses. So, the drawing that I'm going to do, let's just say, it's an octo theme. So, you do is come up with like just going to have a head because I always like to incorporate a girl, like a human in the equation. So, you can choose whether you want to do a boy, you want to do a girl. It could be pretty much anything. In fact, you don't even have people in there at all. So, I'm just going to say, I like the idea of maybe having the body, the just tentacles. It doesn't make any sense, but that's the thing, it doesn't have to. So, we'll have some barriers or something. So, this is how I sketched out some ideas. You really don't have to be perfect here. This is just the very initial idea. I was once told that you're supposed to draw out, or you should draw out 100 ideas first, and then that gets rid of all the bad ideas first or the most obvious. I don't do 100 sketches before I go to final. I just do a couple here and decide from there we're I'm going to go. Okay so one thing that you want to consider when you're creating these graphite drawings is blending shapes together. I generally start with if I'm going to draw a person, I'll start with the head. I just draw it and then I usually have the direction in which the person's face is going to be. I don't get too detailed at this point because I'm just trying to sort out the shape and the different elements and getting them together. So, I like to have little cat rolls, so I have little cat ears. Then, for the body, this is where I just kind of the surrealist thing just kicks in. So, let's say I want to not have her have an actual body, but I wanted to be made out of ribbons. So, I'll just have ribbons coming out and then her hair will also flow into those ribbons. It's all about making sure that your elements blend together and come together in one cohesive units. So, you want to make sure that you have a focal point. For me, it's always the character space because they are going to be the largest part of this graphite drawing and then you want all the other elements to come around the face, and so that, they complements your character. So, I'm going to have some wings that are coming from the side of her head and then have her shoulders there, and add in a couple of ribbons and stuff, needing some years, why not. The most important thing here is to be funky and have fun with this. So, my last little thumbnail that I'm doing here, I should have realized this would be a perfect Sailor Moon. So, I'm just going to add little details like her buns because Sailor Moon is nothing without her meat buns, and then her little half moon circle, and then add that in, and now I have at least three concepts that I can flesh out. So, at the end of this, I want you guys just to continue to draw as many concepts as you can, and then find the one that you fall in love with and go from there. 4. Drawing your outlines: All right, guys. Now we're moving on to step three, which is drawing out the outline of your drawing. Now that you've come up with your concepts, choose one and then get your materials ready. So, I'm going to use a piece of paper here, and I've got my pencils. So, what you want to do is just loosely draw out the shapes. I've decided to go with the girl with the, she's got just a regular face but she's got bear ears and she's got a tentacle body. Why? Because I like it, it's fun. So, what you want to do is you want to lightly draw out the shapes here. So, I'm going to just decide which way she's going to be looking. When you're drawing your outlines, you don't want to press too hard. I'm pressing a little harder now so that you guys can actually see what I'm doing. But here we go, and again, I'm drawing tentacles here now. I have drawn many octopi in my day. It's sort of one of my favorite animals so I don't need reference to draw these cute little squirmy tentacles but if you do, make sure that you have some reference material in front of you. So, this is like basically, you guys just have to have your rough idea to get your proportions in to make sure that it all fits on your page. So, you don't want to start too high, you don't want to start to low. Make sure that you are happy with your composition and the way to do that is just to have a quick outline of your shapes going. So, proportions, what you want to make sure is that you know what the focus of the piece is. So, say like these tentacles, they're a little big so I'm probably going make her face just a little wider so that she still remains the focal point of the piece. But, as far as proportions go, you guys don't have to stay correct like it's going to be hard for me to say, but you don't always have to stay like within reality. So, if your character has like I said big ears, you can go as big as you want because this is surrealism. So, it's meant to push the boundaries of reality and physics. Then, say like, I think that the top of her head maybe needs a little something to jazz it up. So, I'm going to add just another little bow there to bring like the bow on her neck in with this element up here. So, you got your outline and I think I'm going to make her all happy. So, just give her a little happy face there. If you're worried about your proportions for the face and you need a little guide on how to do that, what I like to do is have cross hairs. So, what that means is that you have one line that goes from that, splits the face right down the middle and then the other line is where the eye line would be. So, that is your cross hairs. I always have my character's eyes falling on those cross hairs. Then, the nose is on that central line. You want to make sure that the nose is, like the farther your nose is to the eyes like the closer it is, the younger your character looks especially with Mongo. So the lower you make that nose go, the older they look. Then, the mouth falls halfway between the nose and the chin. The chin always comes to the point of that cross hair. So, there you go. So, that is the basic outline for this drawing. 5. Fleshing out your drawing: 1: Hey guys. All right. So, now, we're onto step four, which is fleshing out your drawing. Now, that you've created your outline, you know exactly what we're going to do. This is the part where you put in all the details. You're going to want to make sure that you've got your eraser and you've got your duster. So, now, let's just go right into it. You want to start with the elements that are beneath everything. So, what I mean by that is, if the bow tie is in front of the tentacle, what you want to do is, draw the tentacle first, because then eventually you're going to draw the the bow tie on top, and then the face goes on top of that, and it's all these elements that come together, and it just makes it much easier because then you're not going back and forth and erasing things, if you change the elements that are on top. It just, trust me, after lots of practice, you'll understand what I mean. So, now, we just go ahead and I'm going to start with the tentacles. It's all about pressure. So, the lighter your pressure is, the softer and lighter your pencil stroke is. So, if I want to do a tentacle down here, I want to lightly draw in where the suckers are, okay. Then, if I say I like where that line is, now I'm going to add more pressure and solidify it in, just like that. And then I know for sure that's where that tentacle is going to be and because it's on top, I don't want to work on it just yet, but I want to have a boundary for my drawing here. So, I'll move that out of the way. When you're working with graphite, something that you're also going to want to consider is shading. What I like to do is lightly draw in the shadow. It makes it more interesting, let's just say. So, again, I lightly draw in the line, and then I go in and with adding more pressure, I pull my brush stroke out. So, I start with a hard pressure and then I slowly lighten the pressure, which means that I'm taking my hand off of the paper. If you're wondering how you add in like or where you're supposed to put in the shadows, it depends on your light source. So, define your light source. I tend to keep a very ambient light source, which means that there is no one specific spotlight hitting my character. But I have a general idea that there is a light, sort of, diffused from the top. So, if there's a top light, it means that there's going to be shadow under her neck or any elements, say, like this particular tentacle is going to cast a shadow over this one. So, I'm going to have shadows on the bottom. If your light source is coming from the right, you would have shadows on the left and vice versa. So, if you have a light source from the left coming in, you'd have a shadow on the right. Your darkest shadows are always going to be where the element is sitting directly over. So, the closer your object is to the object underneath it, is actually where the shadow is going to be darkest. So, you can actually switch out and decide to go with a softer lead at any point. So, this is a softer lead than my Beck. It's going to be a lot easier to blend and I don't have to press as hard. So, the Beck will be really good when I'm working on the edges, whereas this will be really good when I'm working on my cross hatching. So, that way, I use less pressure and that way, say, I do want to make changes to my drawing. I haven't actually dented the paper, because one of the things that can happen when you are working with graphite and if you're pressing too hard, you can leave indentations in your paper. Which is why I prefer to do more cross hatching and more like, I go over my lines as soon as I know that's exactly where it's going to be. That way if I do leave an indentation in the paper, it doesn't really matter because I'm not going to change that particular element. Which is why it's really good to make sure you've got an outline. Yeah. So, just from here on out, you guys just add in all the details you can, remember to cross hatch, and if you want also, you can smudge and you would use your finger. Make sure your finger, you use one finger and you smudge. Just a little bit. Just like that. And then you can go for it. 6. Fleshing out your drawing: 2: Okay, now part of the fleshing out details is the bow tie. So one thing that you want to be aware of is that it's you can you can do any anything you want with this you can do polka dots you can do to mask patterns I like to do a really intricate pattern to offset the smooth detail in the tentacles. So what I'm going to show you is that and you have to make sure that you bear in mind that the bow tie, it's made of fabric, so the pattern should flow with the bumps and curves of the fabric. So, I'm going show you guys here. I'm going to do a nice little crosshatching pattern, and I've got some hair flowing over top of the bow tie so I have to be mindful not to put my pattern over the hair. Now that I've created the outline for the bow tie, what I'm going do is start to put in the pattern. So I want to do a simple plaid pattern here I think it's actually going to work really well in contrast to the circles and the circular elements of the ears and the the tentacles. And to create a plaid pattern, you do one thin line next to in parallel with a thicker line and then you just repeat that over and over again on one direction and then you turn and you do it in another direction. One of the things that you're going to come across if you're doing a pattern that is underneath another element, so in this case the hair is on top of the bow tie. So what I'm going do is at first, I'm going to be mindful of the outline of the hair but most likely, I'm going to have P like that the lines from my pattern actually going into the hair. I'm not going worry about it too much right now because like I said I can always erase it. And there are definitely erasers that you can use. You have all sorts of erasers there's like really thin ones. The end of your Bic pencil is really great because I can just go right in there and I can erase any of those little mistakes that I've made. The thing to be really mindful of two is when you're working with graphite, you don't have to worry about making too many mistakes. As long as you keep your pencil strokes light, I think you'll be okay. You'll be able to erase pretty much anything especially depending on the paper. So the smooth paper will allow you to do a lot more erasing than like say something that's textured and I think that's why it's really important to make sure that you work with a white eraser too because it won't damage the surface of your paper. Okay, so there we go, we have a plaid bow. 7. Fleshing out your drawing: 3: Getting back to the face, again, I wanted just to erase some of those outlines that I originally put in just very lightly because you want to make sure that you still know where you're going to be drawing. So, I'm just going to lightly erase here where I initially put, there, and I'm just going to start working on her eyes. Now, I'm putting her eyebrows because I want to make sure that I know where the eyes fall. Eyes fall just directly underneath the eyebrows, so gives me a good sense of where I'm supposed to add in the pupils. I start with the pupils first, I'm known for doing really round eyes. So, it's up to you how you want to draw your eyes. I tend to draw characters with like big round eyes, which are very expressive, I believe. If your character's face is slightly tilted the way that mine is, the eye on the left-hand side is going to be slightly smaller than the one on the right-hand side because the face is turned just slightly. Then, I like to put in the sides of the face like just this part right here. The space between the eye and the temple, and then that gives me a place to put it in the cheek. Then, I follow the contour of that outline that I put down to define her cheeks. This is going to be a young girl, so she's going to have a nice big round cheeks. So, once I've defined the chin and the cheeks, now I'm going to start to define the nose. With manga, you don't want to put in too much detail in the nose. It's basically like just the nostrils, basically. If you find that no matter how you turn your paper, your hand is going to land on something you've already drawn, don't worry about it. You just take a piece of paper from your sketchbook and you just lay it down. In that way, you can draw without having to worry about negatively affecting your drawing. Unless you're wearing a glove, then you'll be okay. So, I like to do just a cute little mouth here and define the lips just a little bit. Now again, with manga, there's not much mouth definition, most of the time they don't even have a defined lip. So, this is my personal style. I like to give them just a little bit of a bee stung look, and to just turn her mouth up, so it looks like she's giving us a little cheeky smile. Now, what I'm going to do is erase some of the darker lines I've put in with the hair so that I can now move forward and draw the hair. One thing I like to do is do lots of wispy strands of hair. So, this is a technique I've developed over quite some time, and what I do, I'm going to switch to my BIC pencil here, is that I just go really fast. The faster that I go, the smoother the line. So, any hesitation you show at this point is actually going to translate into your drawing. So, if you just go really smooth, it creates these nice like perfect lines. If you hesitate, for example, I'll show you here. If you hesitate and it's not just going to be a darker line, it's going to be a little bit of a wobbly line. So, if you just do that instead of like this, you see the difference, you see that it's a much cleaner line. So, I'll continue to do that, making sure that I don't smudge anything. So now, I'm going to draw her ears and we are almost done. All right. Now, the ears are going to be fuzzy, so what you want to do is shorten your pencil strokes, just do a quick little strokes, and again, making sure that the pressure isn't too strong because you don't want to go too dark, too soon. All right. Now, we're onto the final step which is the eyes. So, what I want to do is I always define the eyelashes first, the top, make them nice and dark. You can add in as many eyelashes as you want. You can go full like every single line, but I tend to do just a couple, just give the hint of it rather than go like too many eyelashes. I like to give the eye a highlight usually on the left corner, and then again slowly with very light pressure to start gray it into the eye. Now, the pupil is usually in the center like the dead center of the eye. So, I start with the bottom of the pupil and then I work up slowly gradienting it in there. Then, I add more definition to the bottom lashes, define the circle a bit more so you get that nice dark line that makes the the light gradients in the eye pop. Again, the eyes especially want to be really careful with your brush strokes or your pencil strokes. So, you want to go really light and do lots of different layers until you have a strong firm pressure for the outline of the eye and for the eyelashes. One thing you can do too, if you want to add in a bit of a highlight, you can just take your eraser and you can erase some of that gradient you just added in. If you want a more in-depth lesson on how to do eyes and draw manga characters, you're more than welcome to look at my other lesson I have on Skillshare, as well as my pop manga book that has a variety of lessons on how to draw anime girls and anime and all sorts of cute little critters. I'm just going to define the nose just a tiny bit more. We're just about ready to go into step number five which is the final phase. 8. Finishing your drawing: Okay guys. So now we're at the very end and I want to show you just like little tiny details to finish off your piece. It's basically things like, when you have elements that are on top of each other, you want to make sure that they come together, really nice. So, I will just add a thick line where the bow and the hair connect, or like where the jaw line meets the hair. Sort of just little moments here. These little details like adding, like those thicker lines, actually just really makes the piece look cohesive, and that's all you have to do, you have to just add a tiny little lines right there where the neck is, where the fir meets the hair, where parts of the hair intersect, and then you're done. But can't forget the most important thing. So, actually sign your name. So, here we go you guys, all done. I hope you had a really great time with this lesson and that you've learned a few things, the most important thing is to just have fun with your drawing. So, don't limit yourself, go crazy, mix birds and octopi, and elephants, and girls, it's all just about having an explorative, imaginative, creative session, and working with graphite is very easy. Take your time, I've learned how to work with this for many years. So, don't feel pressure that if your first drawing isn't perfect, your next one is going to be even better. So, just remember to have fun and to have a funky time with you drawing. Thanks for watching my lesson. 9. Explore Creative Classes on Skillshare: