Creating digital characters is one of the most important skills you can learn as an artist. Characters are what people connect with in stories, films, games, and other forms of media. They are also integral to writing creative fiction!
As writers ourselves, we know how difficult it can be to get into a story and then keep readers engaged while they wait for the next action scene or plot twist. An easy way to do this is use pre-existing materials to tell your own stories.
Characters exist in real life so there are many examples of them online that you could draw inspiration from. People produce things like books and movies every year so there are already lots of instances where these characters have been created.
By drawing inspiration from those, you would not only be paying homage to their work, but also improving your hand by practicing, exploring, and creating new ways to convey emotions through character design.
This article will go more in depth about some types of characters and why designing after and/or incorporating components of their style is a great way to start developing yours. We will talk about how to draw anime and manga characters, classic cartoon characters, and even professional game characters.
We will also take a look at some websites and apps that offer free stock art and tools to improve your craft. These resources are valuable because they are designed and put together by others who care about storytelling and artistic expression.
Examples of digital character illustration
As mentioned earlier, examples are everywhere you look these days. Characters in video games, cartoons, films, and even TV shows are designed using very flexible tools that allow for infinite possibilities to take shape.
In fact, some might say that it is becoming too easy to create incredible characters due to how accessible this tool has become.
It’s like someone took all the secrets out of creating fictional people and gave them away free!
And while there are many ways to learn how to draw from life, still-life studies, or even real human beings, none of those teach you how to make believable, fluid characters that come alive through their gestures and expressions.
So what can we do as aspiring artists?
We have to figure out how to apply what we know about fiction to something more tangible — which often means drawing from the books, movies, and television we watch frequently. And yes, that includes looking at what other artists have done!
But before you dive into all of that, why not try making your own characters first? You will get better faster if you! This article will go over some basic steps to get you started with digital character illustration.
Tips for digital character illustration
As seen with our earlier tips, drawing from life is the best way to learn how to draw characters. But there are some other ways to achieve great results!
Certain things that seem like they’re drawn from photographs are actually designed or sketched models. These can be easily found online and in many art stores.
Some of these designs are totally free to use, while others may have limited use licensing or even paid version access.
They’re not necessarily intended to be printed onto paper but rather used as illustrations or background textures for digital media such as blogs, websites, and video games.
Character designers and artists often start off doing caricatures or cartoons before moving onto more realistic styles.
Understanding humans and human anatomy
A person’s internal struggle can be seen in their face, body language, and overall appearance. When someone is trying to seem casual or nonchalant, while at the same time looking very put together, it is because they are putting up a front.
They may not be feeling well, so they don’t look as healthy, nor do they feel like eating, so they don’t eat much. Or maybe they just didn’t sleep last night, which shows in his/her eyes.
When it comes down to it, we are all connected through our emotions, so seeing the effects of those emotions on others is an easy way to tell if someone is struggling inside.
A lot of people start drawing as children. Some even say that making art is in their blood. But for most, creating pictures or illustrations comes much later in life. It takes lots of practice to get there!
Character design is one of the easiest things you can pick up if you are willing to look around you and find your inspiration. You do not need any formal training to create characters either – all you really need is someone to admire them.
People often admire certain characters such as Mickey Mouse, The Joker or Pikachu. By studying how these artists designed their characters, you will be able to imitate some of those styles and add your own touches to it.
A great way to begin designing your own character concepts is by looking at already established designs.
Painting as a digital character illustrator
As mentioned earlier, drawing is a form of expression that comes naturally to most people. For some, though, it’s more difficult than others. For those who struggle with drawing, there are many different strategies you can use to improve your hand-eye coordination.
If you think about it, we all learn how to draw by copying what we see or studying examples in books and magazines. The important thing is for them to practice, practice, practice!
It’s the same when you want to become an artist. You have to spend time looking at art and practicing techniques on your own before you add anything new to your repertoire.
Digital artists must do this constantly!
There are several reasons for this, but probably the biggest one is that creating artwork using computers allows you to create and edit easily without getting too tedious or frustrating.
As you can imagine, being able to tweak colors and shapes quickly helps keep artistic muscles relaxed and working well.
Materials you need
As with any form of art, being able to identify your style is a great way to begin. What types of materials do you like to use? How do they feel in your hands? Are there certain limitations to what you can add into them?
For example, most people know that digital artists use Photoshop or other graphics programs to edit pictures but some also learn how to draw in it! By drawing in the program, you get all of the benefits of using real tools (for instance, textures) along with new ones (like layering).
Making characters digitally comes down to two main things: choosing your software and picking good quality materials to work with. There are many free resources available online and in stores for both!
This article will talk about some basic tips and tricks for character illustration in general as well as some specific products used by professional illustrators.
Tips for creating a digital character
As discussed before, drawing from life is one of the most effective ways to learn how to draw characters. By doing so, you get practice using real materials such as pens and pencils and you are working with natural proportions.
Drawing from photographs or scanned images also allows you to use very little material, which is helpful since you don’t have much money at this stage! (We recommend investing in good quality art supplies early on.)
The other way to approach drawing characters is by studying examples of well-drawed humans. People are our biggest inspiration when it comes to shaping human shapes and features.
By looking at lots of different people, you will eventually figure out what makes someone look like them/their type. This process is quite hard to avoid though, as we all have different looks and styles.
Final tips for digital character illustration
In this section, we will discuss some final steps to improve your drawing and design skills by practicing them with other characters or styles. Try out these steps on different mediums and formats first to make sure you are able to achieve the desired result!
Character illustrations can be tricky because they require you to draw not only what things look like but how people act as well. There are many theories about human psychology that can help you determine if someone is lying or telling the truth, so looking into those is an easy way to start developing your eye for deception.
Another theory is Aristotle’s theory of tragedy which states that every story has a protagonist, antagonist, and narrator. The protagonist is in charge throughout most of the story, until something happens and the narrative shifts towards the antagonist. After the shift, the reader becomes the new protagonist to identify with him or her, creating suspense and interest in the reading.
The same works when designing a website or app, there is always one main element (the person using it) and then additional supporting elements such as logos or pictures. Just like a book, the climax comes when the viewer finds the main element, and then the supporting ones come after.