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Stylized Characters for Freelance Projects

with Maria Lia Malandrino
5 (1)
Create a complete line-up of stylized characters for a freelance project and discover the dos and don’ts of working with clients.
English English [Auto]
2+
hours
59
lessons
intermediate to advanced
level
Maria Lia Malandrino

Your Instructor

Maria Lia Malandrino is an Italian illustrator and visual development artist working as a freelancer in Turin, Italy. Since 2017 she has been working for publishing houses and brands such as Disney, Oxford University Press, Hachette and others.

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2+
hours
59
lessons
intermediate to advanced
level
English English [Auto]

Requirements

  • Digital drawing software, eg: Photoshop (used by instructor) or other drawing software
  • Some knowledge of shape language and art fundamentals
  • A good grasp of sketching
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Description

Are you excited at the thought of drawing for a living, being paid to do what you really love?

While it is definitely thrilling, being a freelance artist involves A LOT more than just drawing. All the various responsibilities that come with being your own boss, such as pricing, client communication, and review rounds can have a big effect on the final artwork, time involved and even your income! The practical aspects of working with clients can often be overwhelming for those starting out, but it doesn’t have to be for you.

In this course, you’ll discover the workflow of a professional freelance artist, Maria Malandrino, who has worked on a host of various art projects throughout her career. She will share with you how to structure your workflow, deal with clients, create an art style for a brief, write up a contract and more. PLUS she will also walk you through an entire character design from start to finish just as if it was a real-life project for an actual client!

Learn her thought process, tips for boosting creativity, the stages of production and in-depth character stylization. This course sheds light on the daily routine of a freelance artist, with the aim of helping you find your own path as a professional in this industry.

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What you’ll learn

  • Work effectively with clients, from price setting to file sharing
  • Identify your target audience and develop a style that best suits them
  • Discover Maria's coloring methods in Adobe Photoshop
  • Develop the core features of your style and replicate it with other characters
  • Understand the importance of visual communication and how it relates to illustration style
  • Draw a range of characters in one style: children, adults, older people and animals
  • Create a style bible for you and your team
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Who is this course for

  • Intermediate artists looking to become freelance professionals – developing characters for comics, videogames or animated feature films.
  • Artists who want to understand the process for creating artwork for clients
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This course includes

  • 8+ hours of on-demand videos
  • 4 assignments (PDF)
  • Downloadable Photoshop brushes
  • List of recommended books
  • Bonus video content

Lesson Plan

with Maria Lia Malandrino
Expand all sections
01

Introduction to Course

06:08

Welcome to Stylized Characters Part 2! – Stylized Characters for Freelance Projects.

This course sheds light on the daily routine of a freelance artist, with the aim of helping you find your own path as a professional in this industry. In this introductory lesson, Maria gives you an overview of what to expect from this value-packed course.

02

Visual Communication

06:10

The way you express a message is almost as important as the message itself. In this lesson, Maria explains the basics of Communication Theory and how it’s essential to understanding your audience and ensuring the message of the artwork is received by them in the way that you intend.

She explains Berlos’s SMCR Model with clear, practical examples and demonstrates an easy method to use the principles in your freelance projects.


2.1
Communication Theory
06:10
2.2
The Relation Between Style and Content
08:40
2.3
Assignment
06:09
03

Finding Your Audience & Style

11:58

Maria takes an example from a past project, showing how she delivered style samples to land a job with a publishing company. She discusses how to nail the style of your artwork to meet the client’s expectations and connect with the target audience.

Don’t know who your target audience is? Maria will show you how to identify them.


3.1
Delivering style samples to clients
05:09
3.2
What is the Target Audience?
06:49
04

Creating a Marketing Persona

11:08

Maria explains what a marketing persona is, why it’s useful and how to create one. The decision-making and design process gets a lot easier once you know which audience you are targeting and what their interests are.

She also sets up a mock brief to follow throughout this course, and shows you how you can do the same to prepare for future real-world projects.


4.1
What is a marketing persona?
03:02
4.2
Introducing a mock brief
03:27
4.3
Persona Walkthrough and Assignment Example
04:39
05

Working with Clients

12:47

How do I set my price?? This question has plagued many freelance artists, and while there is no one overarching answer across the board, there ARE important factors to take into consideration when setting your prices.

Maria discusses this subject in detail, giving tips for maintaining a good working relationship with clients, while at the same time not underselling your work.


5.1
Setting your prices
05:01
5.2
How to write a pro-forma quote
05:24
5.3
Your work has value
02:22
06

Tools of the Trade

15:30

Find out what tools freelancers use to streamline their creative process and organize their work to avoid things falling through the cracks or deadlines being missed.

Maria shares the exact software she uses for backups, reference collections, communication with clients and file organization, and recommends strategies she personally uses, which you can implement right away.


6.1
File Sharing and Hosting
05:57
6.2
Task Management Tools
01:39
6.3
Software for Reference Collection
01:56
6.4
Communication channels
02:58
07

Reference Collection

12:02

Your unique style comes from the combination of many different influences. Discover why professional artists use references and how you can find good images for your project, to narrow your focus and save yourself a lot of time too!


7.1
Collecting Reference Material
04:21
7.2
Using Pinterest to collect references
07:41
08

Style Finder Tools

14:01

Create Style Finder Chart with Maria in this lesson. A style finder is a useful tool to identify one’s chosen style by comparing all the references found.

It can be shared with the client or your team to help nail down the style of the illustrations at the project’s onset. Learn about strokes, renders, primary & secondary proportions and how to adjust them all.


8.1
What is Stylisation RECAP?
05:37
8.2
Using the Style Finder tool
08:24
09

Working with Shapes, Step 1

16:37

Now is time for putting pen to paper – at last!

First practical step in the process is creating rough thumbnails from shapes. These are presented to the client for feedback, to know if you are headed in the right direction before spending time adding lots of details.

Maria guides you through the steps of creating these thumbnails using the lasso, scale and resize tools and points out things to keep in mind.


9.1
Style development: Where to start?
04:27
9.2
Iterating quick shapes
06:28
9.3
Presentation poses and silhouettes
05:42
10

Working with Shapes, Step 2

15:36

Taking the basic silhouette a step further, Maria adds secondary features and details.

Discover how she quickly creates multiple variations of the character and numbers them carefully, in order to choose the very best one.


10.1
Adding Secondary features to the original thumbnails
03:18
10.2
Iterating pose 18
05:49
10.3
Iterating pose 13
04:29
10.4
Delivering to Client or working for your portfolio
02:00
11

Outfits and Hairstyles, Step 3

15:13

Working further on the character by playing around with hairstyles and outfits, Maria puts together features from different options to finalize the character’s look.

Remember that these features should be in line with the worldbuilding and the character’s personality and relatable to your target audience.


11.1
Finalising the Primary and Secondary Features
06:26
11.2
Creating outfit and hairstyle options
05:29
11.3
Introducing lineart
03:18
12

Color schemes, Step 4

13:00

Have fun with colors in this lesson! You’ll discover practical steps for creating base layers of color, making it easy to adjust the tones and hues later on if you want to change them.

Maria also discusses colour palette options for the character and the reasoning behind choosing certain colors.


12.1
Colouring for Concept Art
07:38
12.2
Creating multiple palettes
05:22
13

Create a Style Bible

14:30

An ‘Art Bible’ is a collection of references, characteristics and features that make up the overall style of your characters and the world they live in.

It helps you/your team reproduce that set style for other characters and objects to maintain consistency and stay on track. Follow along as Maria creates one and talks about the various sections included with Maria today.


13.1
What is a Style Bible?
03:20
13.2
Character Design Section
04:55
13.3
Style Bible: Technical Information
06:15
14

Designing characters: Children

11:27

Now that you have the basic process down for creating a character, Maria will show you how to apply this to designing an entire character lineup in the same artistic style, the first character being a little child.

Watch her process starting with basic shapes and moving on to choosing hairstyles, expressions, color palettes and more.


14.1
Quick Shapes
05:30
14.2
Defining the secondary shapes
03:58
14.3
Colouring the character
02:59
15

Designing characters: Animals, Part 1

12:44

A slightly tricker task: Creating an animal character in the chosen style. It can be done though!

Maria demonstrates how to choose poses and stay consistent with the main stylistic features she developed, while factoring in the animal’s unique anatomy and personality. She demonstrates all this with a few different animals, hitting ‘two birds with one stone’.


15.1
Designing a stylised animal
04:40
15.2
Stylised shapes and iterations
04:05
15.3
Demoing different animals
03:59
16

Designing characters: Animals, Part 2

09:00

This lesson builds on the previous one of designing animal characters. Maria walks you through her coloring process of two animals: a cat and marten.

She defines their shapes and adds all the details, explaining her thought process as she goes.


16.1
Colouring a pine marten
04:48
16.2
Colouring a wild cat
04:12
17

Designing characters: Adults, Part 1

17:40

Welcome to Stylized Characters Part 2! – Stylized Characters for Freelance Projects.

This course sheds light on the daily routine of a freelance artist, with the aim of helping you find your own path as a professional in this industry. In this introductory lesson, Maria gives you an overview of what to expect from this value-packed course.


17.1
The female and male shape stereotypes
04:54
17.2
Rough shapes in proportion
03:46
17.3
Attitude through posing
03:54
17.4
Fashion choices
04:56
18

Designing Adults: Adults, Part 2

06:02

The way you express a message is almost as important as the message itself. In this lesson, Maria explains the basics of Communication Theory and how it’s essential to understanding your audience and ensuring the message of the artwork is received by them in the way that you intend.

She explains Berlos’s SMCR Model with clear, practical examples and demonstrates an easy method to use the principles in your freelance projects.


18.1
Colouring the male adult character
02:59
18.2
Colouring the female adult character
03:03
19

Designing characters: Older People, Part 1

19:50

Next up: drawing elderly characters of both genders! You’ll get practical tips on how to make characters look older, such as the effect of gravity and drawing convincing wrinkles.

Maria demonstrates how to enhance a character’s personality and role by emphasizing certain body parts and using props.


19.1
Drawing older men
06:44
19.2
Drawing older women
04:13
19.3
What defines old age?
05:02
20

Designing characters: Older People, Part 2

03:53

After finalizing the lineart for the two elderly characters, Maria moves on to the coloring and rendering stage of the design, again following the style previously established.


20.1
Rendering an older man
01:38
20.2
Rendering an older woman
02:15
21

Designing characters: Creatures

16:11

Let your imagination go wild in this lesson: Drawing a fantastical creature of your choice!

In this video you’ll discover tips on how to use real-life animal references to work off of, mix and match animals using the lasso tool and create cool fantasy colour palettes.


21.1
Using reality to fuel your imagination
06:55
21.2
Creating humanoid creatures
05:04
21.3
Using colour to enhance fantastical creatures
04:12
22

Wrap-up

13:13

In this video, Maria wraps up the main goals of the course and gives hints for further independent studying on the subject. She also gives some advice regarding the submission of a character design project to clients or the creation of a portfolio for personal use.


22.1
Revealing the final line-up
06:37
22.2
Delivering the final product
06:25

Lesson Plan

Bonus lessons
01

Bonus Lessons

53:59


1.1
Bonus - Slowdown timelapse of Colouring the male adult character
10:43
1.2
Bonus - Slowdown timelapse of Colouring the female adult character
12:12
1.3
Bonus - Slowdown timelapse of Rendering an older man
10:44
1.4
Bonus - Slowed down timelapse of Rendering an older woman
10:46
1.5
Bonus - Slowdown timelapse of using colour to enhance fantastical creatures
09:34

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Thanks for making this course! Nothing like it out there.

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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