Character Camp!

Welcome to Character Camp!  Character Camp is a series of prompts, guides, and tutorials to help you design and draw your own original characters. This series was created in conjunction with the Making Art Everyday challenge. Each day for four weeks, we’ll have a different prompt to get you learning how to draw characters. We’ll be exploring human characters, animals and creatures, even inanimate objects as characters. This page will be updated throughout the month, so be sure to check back!

Jump to a week

WEEK ONE // Build-A-Character

For this first week, we are focusing on drawing a single, human character. To ease into things, and to get you thinking about what goes into developing a character, we’re going to build our characters one piece at a time.

1. Define the Character

Spend the first day defining your character and what makes them unique. Create a profile determining their physical apperance and personality. Take notes and make doodles! The more you know about your character, the better. This information will help you determine how your character looks and behaves.

Read my article, How to Develop a Character for info about what makes a good character and questions to answer about your character for their profile. 

2. Clothing

Draw the clothes that your character might wear. Don’t worry about drawing them on a body, draw them flat like they’re laying on the ground. Keep it easy, this is meany to be a brainstorm of what clothes you think this character might wear. Finish with color to start getting an idea of a color palette for your character.

Watch the Clothing & Accessories Tutorial

Play Video

3. Accessories

What accessories might this character wear or carry? Use what you know about your character to guide you. Think back to their story, where they live, and the things they want to do. It’s all fair game: hats, shoes, glasses, props, scarves, hair accessories, maybe even a little animal friend!

Watch the Clothing & Accessories Tutorial

Play Video

4. Hair

Hair is a character all in itself! Try sketching a few hairdos before landing on the one that feels right for your character. Finish it in full color to practice hair texture. See my People Skills lesson on drawing hair for extra help!

Watch the Hair Tutorial

Play Video

5. Face

It’s time for one of the most essential parts of your character, it’s face! Think about how you want to depict each of the facial features: eyes, nose, mouth, ears, etc. Are there any unique features such as freckles, a scar, a missing tooth, facial hair, etc? Remember to make your character unique! Play around with different styles and proportions of features and decide which you’ll use for your character.

Watch the Face Tutorial

Play Video

6. Body Shape

Experiment with different body proportions to determine your character’s body shape. Draw the body shape without any details added. Remember to exaggerate features for extra interest!

Watch the Body Shape Tutorial

Play Video

7. Putting it all together

Play Video

Today’s the day! We’ll be putting all the pieces together: the body, the head and face, hair, clothing, and accessories. Don’t worry about creating a dynamic pose for your character just yet; opt for a neutral standing position. This is your finished piece: be sure to finish the drawing completely with color, shading, and texture.

WEEK Two // Animals & Creatures

You can turn an animal into a character by giving it some human characteristics.

This could be by giving it personality traits, outfitting it in clothing and accessories, by making the facial features more exaggerated and expressive, adapting the way it physically moves, or a combination of these! The point is to humanize the animal. And don’t forget to employ some level of stylization in your animal. And don’t forget to employ some level of stylization in your animal. Hyper-realism doesn’t work so well in animal characters. 

Read my article, How to Draw Animal Characters and watch the full tutorial below!
Play Video
This week, your focus for Character Camp will be drawing creature or animal characters from prompts. Below are the #MakingArtEveryday prompts, followed by some additional prompts in case these didn’t spark you interest. Of course, you can always use the Random Character Generator for ideas as well!

Prompt List

Mon: cat
Tue: bear
Wed: mermaid/man
Thu: duck
Fri: mouse
Sat: monster
Sun: artist’s choice!

Additional Prompts: 

Animals: dog, crab, pigeon, dinosaur, raccoon, flamingo, earthworm, bird, rabbit, chameleon, hippo, sloth.

Creatures: fairy, unicorn, dragon, gnome, ghost, skeleton, yeti, troll, vampire, zombie.

I'd recommend approaching this week's prompts in one of two ways:

Option One:
Create "Quick Characters"

Draw each of the prompts, one per day. This will be an exercise in quick thinking and idea generation. Don’t worry about getting too detailed with your drawings — think of it as a character brainstorm. For each of the animal or creature prompts, think of a way you could characterize them. You can do this in several ways. You could draw the animal in a more human-like pose, or you can depict them performing an action. You can add some clothing or fun accessories. Give them a personality trait. Depict them portraying an emotion. Check out this People Skills tutorial about manipulating the facial features to convey different emotions

Option Two:
Create a Fully-Developed Character

Choose one animal or creature to develop fully as a character using the methods we employed in last week’s Build-A-Character. Pick an animal from the prompt list. Write a profile for the character, then progress each day, designing your character’s clothing, accessories, facial features, hair (or in this case, the texture and coloring of it’s fur/feather/scales/etc.), body shape, and finally, putting it all together. Depending on how much time you have this week, try doing a couple of characters!

WEEK Three // Inanimate Objects

You can turn an animal into a character by giving it some human characteristics.

This could be by giving it personality traits, outfitting it in clothing and accessories, by making the facial features more exaggerated and expressive, adapting the way it physically moves, or a combination of these! The point is to humanize the animal. And don’t forget to employ some level of stylization in your animal. And don’t forget to employ some level of stylization in your animal. Hyper-realism doesn’t work so well in animal characters. Here are a couple of tutorials about starting to stylize animals, and a couple other animal tutorials.

This week, your focus for Character Camp will be drawing creature or animal characters from prompts. Below are the #MakingArtEveryday prompts, followed by some additional prompts in case these didn’t spark you interest. Of course, you can always use the Random Character Generator for ideas as well!

Prompt List

Mon: cat
Tue: bear
Wed: mermaid/man
Thu: duck
Fri: mouse
Sat: monster
Sun: artist’s choice!

Additional Prompts: 

Animals: dog, crab, pigeon, dinosaur, raccoon, flamingo, earthworm, bird, rabbit, chameleon, hippo, sloth.

Creatures: fairy, unicorn, dragon, gnome, ghost, skeleton, yeti, troll, vampire, zombie.

I'd recommend approaching this week's prompts in one of two ways:

Option One:
Create "Quick Characters"

Draw each of the prompts, one per day. This will be an exercise in quick thinking and idea generation. Don’t worry about getting too detailed with your drawings — think of it as a character brainstorm. For each of the animal or creature prompts, think of a way you could characterize them. You can do this in several ways. You could draw the animal in a more human-like pose, or you can depict them performing an action. You can add some clothing or fun accessories. Give them a personality trait. Depict them portraying an emotion. Check out this People Skills tutorial about manipulating the facial features to convey different emotions

Option Two:
Create a Fully-Developed Character

Choose one animal or creature to develop fully as a character using the methods we employed in last week’s Build-A-Character. Pick an animal from the prompt list. Write a profile for the character, then progress each day, designing your character’s clothing, accessories, facial features, hair (or in this case, the texture and coloring of it’s fur/feather/scales/etc.), body shape, and finally, putting it all together. Depending on how much time you have this week, try doing a couple of characters!

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