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Create character illustrations in a simplistic, lineless style
Learn how to illustrate characters in a flat coloured style with no outlines and minimal shading! This is a great way to draw characters for character design projects, children's book illustrations, and commissions. Drawn in Procreate, but you can use any drawing app that allows layer/blending modes and clipping layers.

Posted by Abbi Laura from Wimborne Minster, England, United Kingdom • Published See Abbi Laura's 7 projects »
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  • How to draw & paint a piece of character art. Character Illustration - Step 1
    Step 1

    When drawing a full-body character, it helps to start off with a round shape for the head a line of action. A line of action acts as a guide for where your character's weight shifts in their pose and captures the dynamic of their action. Think about what your character is doing and how you can express their personality and attitude. Use basic shapes like circles and trapezoids as a skeleton for your drawing.

  • How to draw & paint a piece of character art. Character Illustration - Step 2
    Step 2

    Lower the opacity of your guides and start to fill out the body and a few details. Keep in mind your character's body type and where their weight lies. You can keep re-sketching on new layers until you're happy with the pose and proportions.

  • How to draw & paint a piece of character art. Character Illustration - Step 3
    Step 3

    Sketch things like clothing and hair on a separate layer so that you can still see the limbs underneath - it really helps to know where the legs are so you don't end up with a couple of floating feet coming out of nowhere from the bottom of a skirt! You can also continue refining details like the face and hands until you have something you're happy with.

  • How to draw & paint a piece of character art. Character Illustration - Step 4
    Step 4

    Merge your sketch layers and set them to Multiply, low opacity. For this lineless illustration style, you want to use your sketch as a guide for colouring, but you don't want to rely on it to the point where you need it visible in order for your illustration to make sense. So keep that opacity low!

    Colour block areas on separate layers and keep them well organised.

  • How to draw & paint a piece of character art. Character Illustration - Step 5
    Step 5

    Take a neutral colour within the purple-blue range. The exact colour you'll want will depend on your overall colour palette and the mood you want to convey with your lighting, so experiment until you find a colour that works. This is going to be your shadow colour for everything.

  • How to draw & paint a piece of character art. Character Illustration - Step 6
    Step 6

    Create individual shadow layers for each of your layers of colour. Set these to multiply, and begin shading within them. For this style, keep shading to a minimum - use it mostly for "drop shadows" (ie shadows created where an object blocks the light, like under the skirt) and a few form shadows showing where an object has a side that is turned away from the light. You can also use a bit of shadow colour to separate things like fingers and toes.

  • How to draw & paint a piece of character art. Character Illustration - Step 7
    Step 7

    Using one colour on multiply layers for your whole piece helps unify the shadows and make them look more natural.

    Another way to do this is to paint a colour palette and paint over it with your shadow colour on multiply. You can then colour pick your individual shadow colours.

  • How to draw & paint a piece of character art. Character Illustration - Step 8
    Step 8

    There are a few places where you will need to use minimal lines, like the facial features and to separate any areas that are unclear. To check whether your illustration reads clearly, turn off your sketch layer at this stage! There should still be strong colour separation and form, thanks to the shading.

  • How to draw & paint a piece of character art. Character Illustration - Step 9
    Step 9

    If you feel like it, add some highlights on a layer set to Screen or Overlay. Again, experiment with the colour of your highlights - warm vs cool, saturated vs unsaturated - and see what works best for your piece. And there you have it!

  • How to draw & paint a piece of character art. Character Illustration - Step 10
    Step 10

    You can easily add a little more dimension and texture to your illustration by taking a soft textured brush at low opacity and brushing in some softer highlights and shadows. If you're working on Procreate, duplicate your piece and merge it so you can add this extra lighting on a clipping layer over the whole piece!

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