advanced photoshop
Jul
24

How to create stunning character concepts: Part 1

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Anna-lisa Saywell

Work with perspective, lighting and contrast using Photoshop painting techniques

How to create stunning character concepts: Part 1

 

Step 1- Thumbnails

How to create stunning character concepts: Part 1

The first step is to do some character exploration sketches, to get a better sense of the style and theme. In this case we want to come up with something stylised and cartoon-based with a comedy twist. In this process you should also look up some references or write down some keywords, only to explore the direction to take. It is important to keep this step as simple as possible, so do your self the favour and work in a small scale so create a new document and set the size to A4, and zoom out to 12.5%. Choose a hard edge brush that you like to sketch.
 

Step 2- Shape language

How to create stunning character concepts: Part 1

When we have sketched in on some interesting thumbnail silhouettes that feel suitable for the style and theme, we can start exploring the shapes a bit further. Make the resolution higher on your chosen thumbnail design by going to Image>Image Size>Resolution and begin exploring the characters personality, features and background. Your thought process is the key at this point, so keep it loose and try to go with the flow of your character concepts.
 

Step 3- The good idea

How to create stunning character concepts: Part 1

When you have explored the first two steps, it will hopefully leave you with some good ideas for what is next. Start by creating a new document and set the width: 5000 pixels. Height: 2800 pixels. Resolution: 300 pixels/inch.
The technical approach from here can vary a lot, but in this tutorial we want to go straight in with colour. Pick a colour palette that you like, and start by doing a two coloured gradient layer reflecting sky and ground.
 

Step 4 – Sketch it all out

How to create stunning character concepts: Part 1

When you start your painting you once again want to work in a small scale. Have a clear idea of what you want to achieve, and make sure to paint with a large brush in the beginning so that you force yourself to work with the overall shapes first. Set your chosen brush to 100% opacity and flow, and colour pick from your palette and your gradient layer until you can see all the elements of importance in your painting. Don’t be afraid of doing it rough, as long as it follows your idea.
 

Step 5 – Light

How to create stunning character concepts: Part 1

An important decision to make that will affect the rest of your painting is the light. In this case we work with tree light sources, 1. A direct light coming from the sun located to the right. 2. An indirect light coming from the illuminating blue sky. 3. The bounce light that is caused by the direct and indirect light.
The choice of light directions will affect your composition and overall readability of your painting, so try to think what is most important to highlight.
 

Step 6 – Shadows and volume

How to create stunning character concepts: Part 1

In order to define the individual shapes, it is crucial to understand the basic functions of light/shadow and the volume within. In this example we use shadows to create an interesting layer effect on the three dinosaurs in the foreground, the main function of this is to separate the characters from each other and to clarify the volumes.
 

Step 7 – Value

How to create stunning character concepts: Part 1

In order to define the individual shapes, it is crucial to understand the basic functions of light/shadow and the volume within. In this example we use shadows to create an interesting layer effect on the three dinosaurs in the foreground, the main function of this is to separate the characters from each other and to clarify the volumes.