Learn Simple Techniques to Bring your Characters to Life

Uncategorized May 31, 2017

I can’t tell you just how proud I am of my new Skillshare class, second in a three-part series, Body Works Part Two – Draw a Circus of Movement has by far been the most challenging to date. A labour of love, in just over 50-minutes, I share simple techniques that are guaranteed bring your characters to life.

Drawing movement any using reference material.

Many illustrators struggle with this topic, but it’s something that my illustrations are recognised for and something that I LOVE to teach. There were many concepts to cover and each stage needing careful planning to deliver information in a simple and easy to digest manner. Techniques that (after years of practice) are second nature to me, have been thoughtfully unpacked in such a way that beginners and seasoned artists can give them a go.

Learn how and why illustrators use exaggeration.

Body Posture and Forward Movement

In my latest Skillshare class, you’ll learn how to draw a wire frame of your characters front and side view, using the wire frames to explore body posture and forward motion.

Learn how to draw forward movement of the two legged kind.

Drawing Poses from Reference

I then show you a technique that I use a lot my picture book illustrations. How to apply poses found in any reference (photos, newspaper clippings or your own photographs) to your characters. I did a lot in my picture book Dinosaurs Love Cheese (by Jackie French, Harper Collins). Below is a pencil sketch of the famous Abbey Road walk and (a you-tube) to my quick time painting the Zebras are fond of flowers illustration.

The Beatles Abbey Road album cover inspired the illustration for the Zebra illustration in Dinosaurs Love Cheese.

Age Appropriate Movement 

An important part of bringing your characters to life, is understanding age appropriate movement. To create a successful character, they need to be believable, authentic and relatable to the (sometimes very) young reader. This is why in class, we dip into a selection of picture books to discuss the age of the characters and their movement, all the while creating an illustration using gesture and line.

Age appropriate movement

Body Language

As an illustrator, non-verbal communication is key to telling a character’s story. So understanding body language is vital when it comes to expressing or conveying information about a particular character or story. In this class, we experiment with body language and exaggeration to bring personality and story to a character.

Learn how to use body language

You’ll have the opportunity to take this class from the comfort of your home, viewing the short video style lessons on your phone, tablet or computer. You’ll be able to look over my shoulder as I show you how to apply body language to a character, learning fundamentals that you can then apply to your own characters. In this particular lesson, I use simple shapes, line-of-action and gesture to create multiple character sketches then, overlaying the initial framework with more and more detail.

Learn how to use body language

Create a Character Reference Sheet

In this lesson you’ll end up with a selection of character drawings to use in your Character Reference Sheet for a project, a portfolio piece or a project pitch.

Create a character reference sheet for your character

Movement and Gesture

Bringing movement and gesture to your characters is guaranteed to take your illustrations to a whole new level, and if you master this, your work will be a welcomed treat to any publisher.

It’s taken me years (and more than a dozen picture books) to navigate my way through this tricky topic. What I offer in Body Works Part Two – Draw a Circus of Movement are some simple techniques that will bring your characters to life.

So if you have an idea for a character or a story, or you are working on a project and you’re looking for some support and guidance, why not join me in class. With Skillshare now offering two months free, there is no reason to put off your projects a minute longer.

I look forward to seeing more of you (and your characters) in class. Until then – keep drawing!


Join my free mini-course

As my gift to you, here is my character design mini-course. All I need to know is where to send it. Valued at $20, it is 100% free. No credit card is required. You will also receive Nina news – I love to share, but not too often, not too much, and always in support of your creative journey. And you can unsubscribe at any time.