Spontaneous Brush Pen Characters | Paul Oxborrow | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Spontaneous Brush Pen Characters

teacher avatar Paul Oxborrow, Graphic Designer & Illustrator

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

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.



    • 3.

      Brush Pen Basics


    • 4.

      My Sketchbook


    • 5.

      Physical Demo


    • 6.

      Class Project


  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

I learned to control a brush pen by drawing little characters off the top of my head, one per day. What I didn't anticipate learning too, was how much drawing confidence it gave me to simply take the line for a walk.

This is a class is for anyone interested in taking a different brush pen route, upping their doodling game, and growing their self-confidence in spontaneous illustration! 

In this class we'll cover:

  • Equipment: Everything you need to get started!
  • Brush Pen Basics: Learn simple techniques you'll use again and again
  • Examples: From my personal sketchbook, and live drawing
  • Physical Demonstration

The most important skill you'll gain from this class is confident brush pen illustration.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Paul Oxborrow

Graphic Designer & Illustrator


Serial filler of sketchbooks, design geek and incidental Lego Typographer, I've taught over 6,800 students the pro tips, cool tricks and interesting methods developed over two decades working as a Graphic Designer and Illustrator for advertising agencies and creative studios, on brands like Cadbury, Unilever, Ola, and Diageo.

I make friendly, detailed classes about real things that have accelerated my creative career.
You'll feel like you're right next to me when you take one of my classes. From mockups to Photoshop, chalk and brush pen, we've only begun to dig into digital illustration and creative exploration!

See full profile

Level: Intermediate

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Introduction: Hey, I'm Paul, a Creative from Durban, South Africa, and welcome to my first Skillshare class, Spontaneous Brush Pen Illustration! So you're interested in brush pen? perhaps you want to up your doodle game? Or maybe you just want to grow your self confidence in Illustration? This is gonna be the class for you. We're going to take a simple look at the basic equipment you need to get started. I'll teach you some of the basics I've learned along the way, about brush movements and how to avoid certain illustration pitfalls on the fly. And then we'll do a live demo where we're gonna draw alongside each other and come up with our own brush pen characters. So whether you've been working in brush pen for a while, or you're just getting started, this is gonna be a great class for you to get a little more hands-on with some of the techniques you can re-use in a variety of styles, be it lettering or cartooning or even just doodling. You'll get more and more familiar with being able to just pull off the cap and just go for it! 2. Equipment: Okay, let's talk equipment. All you really need is a brush pen and a bit of paper. You can use standard printer paper like this, available in any country worldwide. It's fantastic stuff. In terms of brush pens, you've got a few choices in front of you. You get a dual brush, single brush, or basically a kid's marker. This one might be easier to start with, it's got a very hard nib, so it's easier to control. The challenge is you've got to really be prepared to push it hard on the paper to get those thicker strokes. These two, there's not much difference in the brush pen. on this one, you just get the brush pen on this one, you get a brush pen and you get a felt tip as well. I'm gonna talk to you about the three I've tried, and the pros and super pros of each. These ones are intended for toddlers. It's a simple marker, which makes a little bit easier for a beginner. You're not going to push down and suddenly get this big fat line splaying out. You can also find that, not being a professional marker, the nib can get a little blown out at times, then you've got the common brush pen. It's basically just a single-sided brush. The nibs are available in soft or hard; a hard nib is a little easier for a beginner, but soft is gonna be a lot more advantageous in this style of illustration. Then you get a Dual Brush marker. This is the one I recommend for doing this kind of illustration. You've got your beautiful soft brush there, and a nice hard one there for fun detailing and even corrections to your fluid line work. I'd also strongly suggest a little bit of Sellotape to stick down the edges of your pages so it doesn't run away from you when you're drawing a brush pen character. Optional is a good cup of coffee and a bit of background music. So, a Bluetooth speaker or your phone with a set of headphones. Absolutely, highly recommended; This wonderful natural light. I just want to show you, when I draw, all I've really got is this soft shadow here, and because the light's coming from this way, it's not really interfering with what I'm doing. If I draw by, say, a table lamp I can sometimes get a sort of ghost line next to the one I'm drawing, which can throw you out a little bit and cause a few issues with lining things up, that sort of thing. So to recap, Brush Pen, Paper, Sellotape a good cup of coffee and some beautiful natural light. Let's get started. 3. Brush Pen Basics: Okay. Freshman basics. What it's all about is the contrast between thickened since tricks, and that's the beauty of a brush plan is that we can get both of those out of the same name . So just a few basic drills the thin down Strick see the trick here. Just hold the pin slightly more vertically than you would otherwise do. Let's get the same thing on the upstroke. See, with any luck, you can get these razor thin. It's all about control. Okay, Just been a bit of time on that. Get your thin don strikes and youth in abstracts rights before you move onto the next one. Now we've got to do the thick. One goes without saying that we'll be putting a little bit more pressure on the pin. Now you can try these two ways. You might find it easier to go a little more slowly as I'm doing here, or you can do some quick don strikes. Let's do the same on the abstract slowly, most, so I just feel that hadn't seen what works for you. What it comes down to there is the contrast between thin and thick. Let me show you what happens the very first time you puts the brush been down in the paper and try this. Probably going to do your skinny line and then push down for the thick one. But do you see how it kind of blows us too soon? There. What that comes from, I found, is timing. You see, this is too short. But we drew this very quickly and this We have to react quickly to draw that line. We'd be better if we started and did it more gradually. Longer, longer, longer. I'm just flick it off of the end. I go to smooth kind of transition. There it's. Try another one, see what I mean? So not important that these be the straightest lands we are, after all, going to be drawn characters. So it's the human form, and we're basically fairly squishing creatures. So that's the crux of Dickinson. The next most important thing to learn is to be able to draw on a curve. So let's take this one. For example. Do you see how we doing kind of the opposite of what we did there were pushing down with the pressure, just slowly releasing until we get that mass skinny. Now this is gonna be a 1,000,000 different things. These can be eyelashes, thes ca NBI shirt colors. These could be a piece of the Children are a little piece of the look does a fantastic ones that have in your arsenal. Let's try this the opposite way. So now we'll go from the bottom skinny and applying more pressure as we go. I see. Okay, now we need to kind of flip it a little bit. So that's good scientific. I tried the other way. The next thing you want a little hooks. So what hooks let you do is circumnavigates an otherwise disastrous situation in the trailer. For this class, there was a sequence where I was drawing the row of the character and I basically pulled the curve around too fast. And instead of giving her funny, skinny head actually, just given that little dip, that sort of Mickey Mouse ground kind of perfect. So that's being able to just turn on attack with your pin. So let's see some examples of that. What if we going up? I need to suddenly just whipped around, you see, could be sick of thin could even be certain get used to being able to turn quite quickly with a set of books. It's flip it as well, and you can spread these out as much as you once consider it to be. Why dark like that. All right, Once you've got that down, we need to start looking at here. Male character here. You're probably gonna fill in like this. Just these quick strikes. See how they overlap there. I'm also going quite fast because what it gives me is this little texture at the end here, which looks pleasingly like human hair. Let's just try that a few times. Now. Don't be afraid of using up this whole page. We are doodling after all. See, the faster you go, the better the textures, you know, to try and separate them a little bit. That just takes a bit of practice to it's kind of land next to each other. All right, let's move over back here for the scientific when do the same thing now, but with a little wiggle in its now. This is something are definitely used for long here, like the surfer guy in the thumbnail for this class or a female character with a longer, more voluptuous here. So same principle. But we alternate several Langston. I think them to think. Try another one right next door. Now you see what I had to pick up there? That's OK. The best thing about a doula brush pin and simply flip it around a small number and make a little correction to smooth out your kids there, bits. Now, the great thing you can do with these Nibs is this kind of stippling. Typically, I use it for stubble for my characters, but you could just assume use it for shading much like a handpicked tattoo, that sort of idea. So try that a little while. Try to them slowly. Try See what happens if you go a little faster and get them a bit more regulated. See how different the results could be in terms of how shaded it looks. Let's just grab a new piece here, Okay? Let's just get the sketchbook in there, okay? I'm just gonna give you guys a quick one on and I that's made of four components. Essentially, we're gonna do movements like that going to do another one like that inside. We gonna do movement like that's then a movement like that, Then to shade that I would use that hatching that re and the moments ago. And I always like to throw a little dockage on this. We're gonna go over that again and just add one more movement like that. Is that something like this? Do a little skinny land thinking adults and landed there something again, just like just join it up there for this next movement. Just a quick with one, just quickly, sickly. Get it in there. Another one there shading just rough. I had one more doc one. Then we've got some semblance of a night. There's a few other tricks you can do to make it a little more feminine. You could do your same thinking thing. They're just leave it a lot of shopping. Bring that in. Just a step, Really. Let's try that I again and see if we can get a little bit. So cycle the hook. It's just hatched like that. All right, so that's the general just of drawing an eye for your character. 4. My Sketchbook: okay, scheduled time. So I started off drawing brush characters one per day just to learn control of the brush pin and get confidence that the thick and thin contrast you know how comfortable I felt doing that without pre thinking it's or laying down construction lines or anything like that. I basically put them all down in the same sketchbook. And this is the same book of maintained over the years. What I really wanted to show you guys is the 1st 1 ever Jury. This is the first time I ever held a brush pin and put it to paper. And the reason I'm showing you this is at the time I didn't expect that I would ever show anybody else this particular character, let alone on social media, lit alone on a skill shake loss. I wrote all these sort of comments to make sure that I would, uh, never put it up. I need figure. Drawing listens again. Uh, teeth lazy, droopy are very, very, very critical of myself. And this is important to see because unless you're very lucky, this doesn't come effortlessly. It certainly didn't for me. But here's the interesting thing. Second day I'm already just seeing a little bit more confidence. It Z I'm trying to put more of a bit of humor in there and that sort of thing, trying to draw the face from the front, which could be a bit more challenging by the way, you can see the nose. The is gonna take a lot more strikes from us with that brush pin. And honestly, it doesn't look that much, although much like a nose, it's It's a bit like a but honor a piece of spam or something like that. But then, by day three, suddenly we swinging. We're cooking with guests and ignore that, uh, it's actually getting some way. Um, this is the other interesting thing, I think. Let's get right off of the best. So this is how most you draw the guards from the sort of 3/4 angle. This is just the easiest way of getting a great sort of expression, and with this few strikes is you need Teoh from the front. I don't really recommend for reasons mentioned previously and then assigned prayerful is also pretty easy, but you gonna have to pay a lot more attention to anatomy and that sort of thing on. Do you know you're welcome in cartooning? Teoh. Push the laws of basic anatomy for comical effect, but it ends up looking kind of goofy. You know, let's talk about islands for a second. If you want to take a nose journey. Where the nose ends is the bottom of the and really with the nose begins as the top of the This guy's way out of work is as owners for it and that sort of thing, and it's quite funny. But if you're aiming to get anything else out of us like cartooning or decent kind of characters on, that's probably the most important rule of thumb for me. Anything else is open, open season, you know, and get a town of the neck and make funny long limbs that wouldn't really work like that in real life. Some quick little curls and stuff that's basically that same same little downwards trickery we use, but much more quick and scoops just like that. Um, so here's a good point to mention I kind of drew men exclusively, and the reason for that is the deal brush. So this little side here was what I really wanted to learn, wanted to get used to flipping it over between the the brush in it and the felt it did. And the best thing I could think of to draw with a felt submit was stubble. So you getting that's repetitive thing? You would have seen it in the trailer for this class where it's just, like due to toe do toe. Ditto due to male characters a little simpler than a female, I can just kind of in the the hell I'm just behind the ear there, and I don't have to really worry about it. It's also okay to have kind of like a head, just like on top of the shoulders. You don't have to really worry about the nick and that sort of thing, and it gives them a more sort of stately, powerful fuel. Also try to vary between young and old. That's something with we're thinking about. Um, I just want to show you all right, here's a good example of a girl. So if I did the same thing and I let the hill, I'm just behind the ear there, this is kind of a little rat's tail coming out here. It doesn't really make a lot of sense like this one. He had actually looks a bit. She looks a bit sort of bedraggled and really email, to be honest. And along here can be voluptuous. That can do things that short here, can't say can have body it can bounce. So this is what I wanted to show you guys about. Confidence obviously came down here, drew this little line, and I wasn't quite sure what I was going to do, so I just kind of bounced it at the end of a good squiggle all the way down. You know, the more you practice those jewels, that's something you get more and more used to doing. Essentially just changing on attack, changing on a whim and just making something new. This this is probably my favorite one I've ever done. He's really well, proportionately. You've kind of got the long, tall hit there. Part of that's supposed to be a neck, really, so let's just say that's the head. The bodies, about half the size of the hid and the feats, are about half the size of that, so it's it's just kind of cutting down proportionately and drawing your focus to his face, especially his eyes. So if you want to have fun with these things that something to think about when you're drawing it characters, what do you want to draw attention to? There was, uh, this earlier handshake, and that was all about drawing your attention to this goofy expression. And then, secondly, to this extended hand, I'm I even took the other one in the pockets. I didn't have to worry about it. I basically run out of space. Um, this guy's hands behind his back as well, also knots by any other choice. Then I just didn't really know what to do with them at the time, I didn't know where to send them. Um, you d hands on hips. That's fun as well, and you can see same pin same book, and you can twist in a 1,000,000 different ways. This is another fun one. When you get a bit more used to the here, you can start getting a bit more texture in there, and that's just also using this little felt sip. Just to do these little dot you're falling and lands there, so it's not very complex cool thing about these is you can draw them. Anyway. All you really need is a good, solid surface or a small sketchbook that you can kind of rest on. You can draw these on the plane. You can draw these on public transport. You can sneak these in lunch, break and wick, that kind of thing. All right, so after all this talk, let's get down to a physical demand. I'm gonna draw one of these things. 5. Physical Demo: Okay, let's go for it. I'm gonna take these two leads off because we're gonna be using both sides of the sucker. Let's get going on our first things first. I'm using a bigger sheets of paper here than I normally would. This is a great way to start off you guys because you don't have to worry about painting yourself into a corner if you'll excuse the pun. As you saw me doing my early examples, you can basically draw it in the middle of page. And, um, you know, you could you could get that page done if you want, so you could carry on drawing around and use it as a big old doodle page because let's start with the nose, get a good hook there, peel it off. Skip around there some fantastic texture coming through there, by the way, which I'm quite pleased with. Um, ultimately, after after a little bit of use these Libs a little blown out. But that's OK. You can do some good stuff for that. I'm not slip there. Put in there as well. Okay, and here's where I am madly done. Just a small god for myself. Just so I can see in a a fancy having a slightly thinner join their than the thick outer strike that I've got you. And by the way, another great thing to use the snow before is these little sort of in the straps. You see how it kind of adds this dynamic to it Now it's almost like a little bit of lights . It's hitting it from the lift. I really like that. Okay, so you basically just concentrate on the side. I like to put it on the left there, but I reserve the rats to put some other little bits and bobs here and there. I need them. Um, let's crack on. I think Let's make a skeptical sort of dude say, Let's get that It's shaped thing we talked about, Um, it's through that other one way up. So he's not sure about a thing we're saying. Very skeptical. Dude, Um, let's get the I in there. I'm gonna show you guys may be the single most important thing to remember when you're doing these. Remember how put otherwise where the 1st 1 I did with it had the droopy eye. What I forgot was the basic principle you need to know in drawing a face, start with the nose. Think of the noses and anchor where the nose starts. That's gonna be the top of your with the nose ends. That's gonna be the bottom of your year in your eyes. Slightly lower. So I always like to establish. Was that to establish one? I first, it's gets, uh, that's bit of emotion in there. And once I've sort of got the Stella the styling of this size, I want it. Um, I can throw in, you know, I can replicate that on the other side. So you see how we're using quite a few little off those basics. We've done our scoop. So far, we've done the tiny version of the hatching that we saw on that lady's here. The drone. Um, how much the same. Let's bring it down again. I'm again. Little whip around, little sickle, Even rough. That's okay. It's two metal signature bags. I love these things. Probably don't get enough sleep myself. So that's kind of what I see in the mirror. And, you know, if I could have them Marconi to brought see this other fun thing I'm doing? Yeah, I don't do this on all of them. But when you're learning, joining, joining into into something, you know, find really handy. So this little one has a beginning, such a zoo, and it has an end. These are touching. Paul is very few of these floating on their own. Even these two, only that one's kind of floating it. And they're all kind of anchored to another piece of the face. Not so. See this one going up? We're going to skip the nose, just carry on there. So that's the way we always got on joining them, you see? And I think, let's give this carpet of grits one of his snaky little things We learned so good runs. That's a bit of a sunken cheek, you see. So let's get Let's do that your next since we recently talked about a bottom of the nose, but I leave a bit of room for the side of his face. I'm gonna pull the low about from about here. Oh, around just trying from the top. And here's the quick Supriya. Let me show you kind of, you know, draw kind of Ah, funky would this shape, but I put out there, scoop it around this. Just pull a little guy in there, do one more there, and that's your year with as much details. One could ever hope to put in a in early. Okay, so see, whereabouts The nostril would go, Let's go straight on from there drawn and little bunch in something That'll be cool. I could not in Good. Now this is kind of a strong character. So I'm gonna go with quite a strong jaw. It's gonna look out there poor's and just goes straight up. Besides that, you're there. See, It's jutting out, so it kind of looks a little more Viking. Maybe next thing I'll trace, that's and just go up for a bit of Faryd. Now, here actually want to do? I'm fencing doing some of the hatching. I really want to do a good stubble job on the here. That's fade, you know. So let's just put around there. Stop it about big and that's blockhead going. It started. Just curve it down there. Boo fries. It meets the This is one of those ones. Were you? You really don't need Teoh. He really didn't need to give him a neck and he's gonna take a body just fine. So because of the corrupt we're doing, I'm just gonna give him quite a small, comical buddy. It's just pull is brawl on there. We're gonna make a decent fade here, So that's gonna be solid on that's up. Let's get some of that brush. She stuff it all rights that's really slicked back. And then we're gonna get my good old fade. Yes, just that up many as you, dear. You see there quite loose and random at the moment. By the time I get to the top, we're gonna really get them ultra, ultra, ultra close clustered. And that's going to give us that sort of hair effects off shorter at the bottom and thicker at the top. This is where our fine music really helps. You saw in the trailer for this class I was actually a piece of music written by a good friend, Aman Thomas. What keys. And it was specifically written for this class because it's got that little and intent and didn't indented and independent and independent get us just helps you keep the rhythm of what you're doing. Okay, I'm not thinking that up kind of cheats and flip that pop over and just get a few Debs and there to make it really good and thick when you started to get a decent faded, It's this tiny little ones. I'm barely barely really living there. But the paper there this film in because you would get that, you know, this is I just had this cuts You're gonna get a little bit of regrowth. Es a stickler for detail. Let's just use the lips clean up that land as well. See how that sort of feels like it's gonna meet up. Let's just do a few creases. Good run up there. Let's throw these little Dotson's sure we've kind of ended. Clean that up a bit as well. Um, that's keeping this clean shaven China. Think on this one. All right, so, uh, nobody here we go, be a little chest, but get a town. Me says they're working, man. Let's just give it some dimension there. And I think to me, this is looking like a bit of an authority figure. So it's but this torso right down there, he's gonna have hands on hips. Actually, let's put them in his pockets. That's even easier, because that's the pockets cover, for sure there. It's a good, thick and thin there. Just get his other arm out there landed somewhere on there. Okay, let's flip it around to the nub. This as much as you did add, you know, it's all good. So now the reason I put them in pockets here is that's going to be a lot easier because we don't have a lot of space to play with. So, um, I can have them in the pockets. I don't have to draw the hands because I've got that shine on everyone else. I've got to leave a little bit on. The pence is well, so let's just flip that around some of that thin matching. And then I usually stick with this one. Just for some. It's a nice little shoes, shine on them too easy, and then we're basically done. Um, enough. You still feeling like it? You can check all kinds of stuff on there. Do you see all these little flicks and grits and things? They just give it some sort of movements. Now this guy's you know he's angry. He's don't sing or something. It's kind of wobbling around, but are rather like our other. Like what the says to them. Okay, I know he needs a name. I think I think this is Maurice. 6. Class Project: Over to you. For the Class Project, you'll be illustrating your own Brush Pen character. You'll give your character a name and this will also become the name of your project. Then, when you're ready, upload it to the class Project area. Thanks for taking this class. It's been an absolute pleasure teaching it, and I can't wait to see what you'll come up with.