US $19.97

Character Design Crash Course: Designing Animal Characters

——   Created by Melissa Lee

Share this course:

Lesson time
Skill level

More about this course

Welcome to Character Design Crash Course, a series of illustration classes meant for beginning cartoonists or intermediate character artists looking for a refresher. In this class I'll take you through my entire process of designing and illustrating an animal character, starting with finding inspiration and reference, then moving on to sketching and developing your concept, and finally, rendering it in Adobe Photoshop. I'll also talk about the fundamentals of character design, and the importance of using reference and learning from other artists. 

What You'll Learn

  • Finding Inspiration and Learning from Other Artists: I'll talk about studying the styles of other artists, how it helps you build your versatility, and the importance of being influenced by more than one artist.
  • Using Reference: I'll talk about why using reference is key to improving your drawing skills, the best ways to use it to benefit yourself, and why it's particularly essential when designing animal characters. 
  • Developing Your Character: from rough sketches to more developed concepts
  • Rendering in Photoshop: blocking in base colors manually and with the pen tool, using the radial gradient tool to shade and highlight, using paths to make selections, and how paths and the lasso tool can aid in coloring
  • Color Adjustment and Texture: how to use color adjustments and texture tools to add interest to your drawing

What You'll Make

Once finished, you'll have a fully illustrated animal character to add to your portfolio. :D


Adobe, and Adobe Photoshop are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe in the United States and/or other countries.

The course project


To design and illustrate an animal character of your choosing.

  • Step 1: finding inspiration and reference
  • Step 2: rough sketching and developing concepts
  • Step 3: rendering (traditionally, in Photoshop, or the digital art program of your choosing)

Your goal is to create a fun character that you can include in your portfolio!


Your project should include your fully illustrated animal character, as well as your rough sketches and varied designs. Feel free to post pictures or screenshots of your illustration process along the way. 



9 Lessons

1 min
10 mins
Inspiration and Reference
6 mins
The Fundamentals of Character Design
3 mins
Using Reference
1 min
Practice Exercise
4 mins
Sketching and Designing Your Character
12 mins
Blocking In Color Using The Pen Tool and Radial Gradient Tool
16 mins
Rendering In Photoshop
1 min
Closing Thoughts

About the instructor

It you!
Melissa Lee
  • 9 courses

Hi! My name's Melissa Lee, and I'm an illustrator and surface designer living in the hilly forests of Northern California. Alongside doing freelance and art …

Read more
This course is included in Arbington Premium
$15/month gets you access to every course. Start your 14 day trial today. ☝️

Class benefits

  • Certificate of Completion
  • 30 day satisfaction guarantee
  • 24/7 streaming access
  • Project included
  • Direct teacher access
  • 50m of on-demand video
  • 2 downloadable files
  • Have a coupon?
  • Checkout