Course: Female Character Course

Hello and Welcome to Drawing a Female Character Course


I have been noticing that there are still views and comments on my first tutorial series I created in July 2011. It’s about time I go back and create another free character series and share the tips and techniques I have learned since then. I have had this new character idea in my head for a while now and I find myself sketching on paper more and getting my ideas out that way. I drew this rough n tough chick with a large rectangle object that she would always be seen with. From there I decided to take the sketch digital.

1. Stick Figure Outlining

I like to start out with a stick figure outline to get a general feel of the movement in the pose and create an interesting concept to develop. The main lines I try to set down are the shoulder line, hip line, and backbone line. From there I then add the arms and legs based on the proportions of the initial lines.



2. Anatomy Sketch

Turning the stick figure layer’s opacity down I create a new layer and draw a quick anatomy outline on top. This helps me see the body in it’s full proportions and makes it easier to draw a clean outline on top.


3. Final Outline Sketch

At this point I am using the hard-edge circle brush with only shape dynamics turned on and I am capturing a detailed outline with all of the main clothes and accessories in place. It is at this point that I would take the next step into adding color.


Drawing a Female Character Series Part 2 – Base Colors


*** The source files includes the .PSD with each of the layers, a .abr containing the color palette, and a HD version of the tutorial video. ***

Color can affect the perception of your character, help create a personality, and set the tone for the rest of the rendering process. So when I create a color palette for a character, I think about who that character is and what environment they will be in and how that affects their clothing, outfit, and ultimately, Color!

For this character who I have starting naming “Red” I wanted more earth tones that would compliment the pulled back scarlet red hair.

1. I like to start off on a neutral grey, and fill in the skin first.

This tutorial series picks up where the line art tutorial left off. I first fill the background with a neutral grey to help show the true values of the colors as I add them on top.


2. I look to draw on the shadows and lighting based on where the direction of the light is coming from


3. For the hair I build up the reds dark to light and work in the direction of the hair. I try to add in gradients to help break up the solid masses of colors.

4. I work with a green to help compliment the hair color and keep the color harmony in balance.


5. Finishing up, I add one more gradient to the box and call the color base finished!


Drawing a Female Character Series Part 3 – Face and Hair


*** The source files includes the .PSD with each of the layers, a .abr containing the color palette, and a HD version of the tutorial video. ***

The next step I like to take with a character after the base colors are all set, is working on the face and hair. Throughout this tutorial I will be switching back and forth between the face and hair to keep the level of detail cohesive throughout the process.

1. First I clean up the area around the face and hair and since I like to work on one layer I merged the line-art and color base layer together.


2. I work back and forth from the hair and face to keep the level of detail similar between the two.


3. Working with keeping the facial structure in proportion along with keeping the hair in shapes.


4. Continuing pushing the details along with re-adjusting the hair movement.


5. Finishing up the rendering on the face and hair.


Drawing a Female Character Series Part 4 – Skin and Clothing


*** The source files includes the .PSD with each of the layers, a .abr containing the color palette, the SKIN brush, and a HD version of the tutorial video. ***

After the face and hair, I like to work next on the skin and clothing of the character. Below is a quick step summary of the process along with the tutorial.

1. Use the lineart and base colors as a foundation for coloring on top of.

Keep in mind where that light source is coming from and choose your colors accordingly. To build up light values, I like to use lighter warm colors (yellows, oranges) rather than whites, which I prefer to use only for highlighted areas or surfaces with a high reflective value.


2. Build up your values/shading with laying your brushstrokes in the same motion and direction.

So for example, on the skin I try to push my brushstrokes around the different muscles and compliment them.


3. Build up your clothing with shadows.

For clothing, remember that it’s not a highly reflective surface in most cases so your highlights should be subtle. Your shadows are what will build up the different surface tensions and folds.


4. Texture brushes are a great polish for extra detailing and rendering.

I use a skin brush (which is included in the source files for Citizen members) on a multiply layer to add texture and value to the piece.


Drawing a Female Character Series Part 5 – Accessories

The Accessories are typically one of the last additions on a character that I add. I will look at the character and try to create accessories that fit the overall personality and fit the context of the character. In this tutorial I take you though adding accessories and give tips about how to detail along the way. Texture additions are also important for the extra detail. The newest resource page contains all of the textures Concept Cookie has to offer along with the ones I use in this tutorial!

Check out the texture page here: TEXTURES

*** The source files includes the .PSD with each of the layers, a .abr containing the color palette, and a HD version of the tutorial video. ***

Below are some key steps throughout this tutorial

1. Add accessories that are appropriate for the character.

I go through and add different elements that I feel are fitting for the character, but not all the accessories will end up in the final result.


2. Work dark to light

I will normally lay down darker base colors for each additional accessory and then work my values up with lighter values.


3. Dark and Light lines

My biggest tip for detailing, is to do a “dark” line to indicate an indentation, and then a “light” line to edge it off in whichever direction the light is coming from to make it pop.


4. Detailing

Try to push your detailing work everywhere throughout the character even though it can be time strenuous.


And now the accessories are added for “Red”!


Drawing a Female Character Series Part 6 – Final Polish

*** The source files includes the .PSD with each of the layers, a .abr containing the color palette, the textures brushes and a HD version of the tutorial video. ***

I use the following two textures in this tutorial. Citizen members can download both of them to use in their own work here:TEXTURES


Here is the final result of the female character series, “Red“.


1. Background

We have been working on a neutral gray background for this entire process so now I work with a combo of gradiants and texture brushes to create a nice background effect.


2. DoF (Depth of Field)

To add some atmospheric perspective, I add some DoF by erasing some of the elements that are further back or behind the character. The further away it is, the more I would erase. For the hair I created a nice gradiant from full opacity to about a 40% opacity.


3. Textures and Overlays

I bring in textures and set the layer mode as either overlay or multiply depending on the situation after masking the character. For this character I wanted a sunny disposition so I added a  yellow/orange glow to the character on a separate overlay layer.


4. Texture Brushes

This is a great way to add more final details onto the character and for the magenta color addition, a nice layer mask helped keep within the silhouette of the character.


5. Signing off!

After all the work you put into your character, now is the time to sign your work. You are putting your signature stamp on this piece saying that this is your work and you are proud of it. Every time I sign a piece I think about how great it feels to be done and I get excited to get started on the next!


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8 Responses to “Female Character Course”
  1. Posts: 9
    stevemc says:

    Would’ve been nice to see the other 2 on the sheet done

  2. Posts: 1
    anjuin says:

    Thanks so much for this wonderful Christmas gift! Have a great new year!

  3. Posts: 1
    tymora11 says:

    Thanks for a really great and useful series! I posted my (first) attempt and would love feedback whenever you have time.

    • Posts: 46
      richard w says:

      Hi chko,

      We’re very sorry about this. Some of the video links broke when we changed servers. We’d thought that we’d fixed them all, but clearly we missed one or two. The web dev has been notified and it should be fixed soon.

      Thank you for letting us know that this course needed fixing!

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