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How to Draw a Cartoon Character

with Maria Lia Malandrino
4.7 (74)
See how Maria, an illustrator and story artist, breaks down in easy steps, the process of drawing a "cartoony" portrait starting from a reference picture.
English English [Auto]
1+
hours
6
lessons
Intermediate
level
Maria Lia Malandrino

Your Instructor

Maria is an illustrator and story artist from Turin, Italy. She has a BA degree in Magazine Publishing from the University of the Arts London, has studied Traditional Animation at the International School of Comics in Turin and attended a masterclass in Storyboarding at the online school CGMA.

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1+
hours
6
lessons
Intermediate
level
English
English [Auto]

Requirements

  • Some knowledge of drawing is required.
  • A digital drawing software, like Photoshop (any version), the Procreate app for iPad (used in this tutorial) or any other similar software is required.
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Description

Have you ever dreamed of drawing amazing cartoon characters? In this course the talented artist and illustrator Maria Malandrino will go through the process of drawing a cartoon portrait starting from a reference picture. She will guide you through the entire workflow, covering all stages of the creative process: sketching, colouring, shading and refining your artwork.

You will see Maria using her favourite app Procreate, and an iPad but all you need for this tutorial is a digital drawing software (like Photoshop or any other suitable alternative that you like) and a graphic tablet to be able to follow her through the colouring process.

Maria’s tips and tricks will help you develop and improve your own drawing style and you will be amazed at the final result!

At the end of this course you will have created a beautiful cartoon character of your choice!

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What you’ll learn

  • Learn to draw a cartoon character from start to finish
  • Learn how to get references to fuel your creativity
  • Learn to easily convert realistic shapes & proportions into "cartoony" ones
  • Plan ahead your colour palette & experiment with layers & brushes
  • How to achieve the effect of a line art free artwork
  • How to use line art & multiply blending in Photoshop CC to blend a cartoon line art into the artwork
  • Add the final touches & imperfections that make a cartoon character look more real
  • Use lighting & shading to make your artwork pop out of the page (or the screen)!
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This course includes

  • 1+ hours of on-demand videos
  • 5 work-in-progress images (JPG)
  • 6 downloadable resources in total

Lesson Plan

with Maria Lia Malandrino
Expand all sections
01

Introduction

01:04

Meet Maria Malandrino, a talented Italian illustrator and animator, who will show you how to draw a cartoon character from start to finish!

Using her iPad and the Procreate app, Maria will give you great tips on how to get references and approach the stages of sketching, colouring and final rendering!

02

Rough Sketch

09:03

In Lesson 2 you will understand the importance of drawing inspiration from different sources in order to feed your imagination and creativity and to give your figures realistic posing and anatomy.

Maria will show you how to create a canvas, draw a mannequin and use sketching to convert realistic shapes and proportions into “cartoony” ones, without losing real anatomy details.

03

Clean-up

10:30

See how drawing exercises can help you improve your hand-eye coordination and retain the freshness of the sketch in the clean drawing!

Drawing hairstyles, jewellery, clothes and shoes can be challenging, as you need to convey tridimensionality, realistic visual strength and add details that flesh your character out.

04

Colour

20:08

Before moving to the colouring stage you first need to create your own palette! In this lesson Maria will show you how to work more efficiently using a restricted number of colours. She will then teach you how to pick the right colour scheme to obtain the desired effects, and will explore a colouring technique that makes it easier to add tone variations, additional details, dynamic elements and special effects.

05

Shading & Lighting

13:42

Did you know that shading and lighting is very much about refining and erasing rather than painting?

In this lesson you will learn to create the illusion of shade using the available settings of your design software!

Maria will share her tips about adding shadows according to the source of light on your canvas, adding reflected light effects and experimenting with various lighting settings until you are happy with the overall result. 

06

Wrap-up

05:32

This is a time-lapse of the full illustration process, in which Maria recaps her take-home messages and adds some useful tips and final considerations.

   5 work-in-process Images (JPG) included

   1 final image (PNG) included

Student Feedback

74 customer reviews & ratings

4.7

Course rating

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5 star
79 %
4 star
15 %
3 star
5 %
2 star
3 %
1 star
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Best Suited for
Intermediate
The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.

(Based on 74 reviews)

Most Liked
Helpful Examples 28
Clarity of Inspiring 27
Great step-by-step process 25
Showing 10 reviews of
74
reviews & ratings
VT
Vicky T.

1 year ago

Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed Maria's masterclass, a great 101 using Procreate on iPad. It's been awhile since I created something from scratch, and I was able to design and finish a cartoon character. I've always wanted to get better at inking and digital painting. Great pro-tips and good quality videos helps a
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lot. Thanks for kickstarting my drawing again and making me feel confident that I can draw.
7 people found this helpful
K
Kristen

1 year ago

Verified Purchase
This was such a fun and inspiring tutorial. I learned some really valuable tips about workflow in Procreate and illustration in general. Maria's lessons are very easy to follow and well produced. Thanks!
2 people found this helpful
ES
Eric S.

1 year ago

Verified Purchase
I’ve drawn cartoons for a very long time, so I wasn’t sure what I’d get out of the course, but I plunged in anyway. So glad I did! I picked up several new tricks in Procreate, a whole new coloring style, and an easier way to render light and shadow, all in about an hour. The lesson is broken into ti
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tled chapters for an easier way of finding what you want to watch again.
2 people found this helpful
DY
Dareth Y.

1 year ago

Verified Purchase
I absolutely love this course!
2 people found this helpful
ML
Mike L.

1 year ago

Verified Purchase
This class helped just as much with drawing tips as much as software tips
1 person found this helpful
B
Bertalan

1 year ago

Verified Purchase
I love this one. Very clear, understandable, practical and useful.
1 person found this helpful
FC
Fanny C.

1 year ago

Verified Purchase
Very complete! I really like it and learned new knowledge. I am happy to be able to come back as I please to rewatch and pause to try it out! Thank you for this fantastic class
AR
Alexandro R.

1 year ago

Verified Purchase
I really love her course! I was able to follow along really easily and I definitely learned a lot.
SB
Shawn B.

1 year ago

Verified Purchase
I agree that this course teaches great content AND since I have an iPad and Procreate I was able to follow along and learn more how to use the app while exploring the creative workflow (helped more than I thought). When I am not struggling with the software I can focus on the creative process. G
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ranted you don't need an iPad or Procreate I was able to make my own character while following along the first part. Still working through the next steps but I am sure it will continue to be great.
C
Courtney

1 year ago

Verified Purchase
Maria does a great job of explaining her process start to finish. Very easy to follow and directly translatable to multiple subjects.
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About the Instructor

Maria Lia Malandrino
Character Designer, Story Designer & Illustrator 5 courses

Maria is an illustrator and story artist from Turin, Italy. She has a BA degree in Magazine Publishing from the University of the Arts London, has studied Traditional Animation at the International School of Comics in Turin and attended a masterclass in Storyboarding at the online school CGMA.

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21 Draw is an online learning community where students of all skill levels can learn how to be a better artist. Our contributing artists and instructors are the best in the world.

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On books.21-draw.com you can buy our popular learn-to-draw ebooks and physical books, separate from the courses, and they too are also delivered to you by the heavyweights of the art industry.

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Each class includes 10-20 video lessons that are 7 minutes long on average. Most classes include exercise sheets, assignments, and layered PSD or PNG files.

Some classes include the ability to chat with the instructor in a public forum, e.g. if you want feedback on your artwork.

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