5 Steps to Creating Unique Character Artwork

Character artwork is one of the most competitive fields in the concept art industry. Everyone wants to be a character artist, but not everyone can bring the kind of technical skill or creativity needed to deliver the best work.

That’s why it’s important to have a system in place for generating cool character concepts that will break the mold.

So here I want to show you my entire character process from start to finish with five simple steps of development. You can watch the whole video above or on my YouTube channel here.

1. Gesture sketching

Character artwork sketches of a four-armed sci-fi sasquatch holding two guns and a sword

This is when the most important elements of the form are decided. I will usually do at least four, sometimes up to 10 variations of the pose before I move on to detailed sketching. This allows me to pick the very best pose idea possible. It also lets me explore the character and their personality a bit more.

2. Refined sketch

A character artwork sketch of a four-armed sci-fi sasquatch holding two guns and a sword

This is where I take my best pose idea and refine it further. Now I don’t have to worry so much about the overall form as much as smaller details like the armor, weapons, and facial features. This is where a strong knowledge of design is very helpful, to give the character believable and readable features.

3. Underpainting

A character artwork underpainting of a four-armed sci-fi sasquatch holding two guns and a sword

During the underpainting phase, I block out the major shapes of local color, as well as the background. Here I also start to define the light source a little bit, and begin painting over the sketch.

4. Detailing

The detailing phase tends to take the most amount of time, and makes the least amount of impact on the overall painting. However, a nicely detailed character can look very polished and show a lot of clear thought about the character’s history, and can bring an element of realism and focus to the piece.

5. Final touches

A digital painting of a sci-fi sasquatch warrior in armor holding two pistols and a sword

These final adjustments can really bring a character to life. This involves making value adjustments, adding in background details, lighting effects, and more.

Finally, it’s time to call this one finished.

Now, of course there’s a lot more to it than that. I’ve created dozens of character concepts like this, which you can check out in my portfolio. And if you’re interested in learning how to do this yourself, check out my mentorship program as well. I’d be happy to teach you everything I know about character artwork.

Until next time,

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