Character Concept Tutorial


I put together a short tutorial for anyone interested. I enjoy studying peoples’ artistic process almost more than their finished work, so I try to share my process as often as possible. Feedback or questions for clarification much appreciated!

Click the image for a PDF!


this is informative, concise and inspiring. A good tutorial about the general process and not software related techniques. I like that. Thank you.


Drawing and sketching being a weaker skill of mine, this was and will continue to be of great use.
Thank you for sharing!


nicely done, much appreciated ZombieMariachis.


I like it.


This helps me out a lot, thank you. Maybe you can help me out with my technique issues.:beer:


Working on another. The young witch!


looks great so far!. The line where the skirt finds the ground doen’t look natural to me. Near the foot is where I notice it more because it seems to make that area a bit flat. Maybe the creases are too sharp comparing them with the light over the edge of the fold… damn it, how difficult is to explain this in words :D. The fold is smooth, but the section at the floor is sharp… I guess the shadow in the floor will help or make it right.
I’m looking forward to see the next step.




Thanks for the critique jorgepozo!

Pushed the rendering of the values and detail a little more and then dropped in some very simple colors to aid the next step. This is where the fun stuff starts! For me, It’s like opening a Christmas present. If you look at the jump from step 5 to 7 of my tutorial you’ll see what I mean. It’s when life really gets fed into the grey lifeless concept, and you get to see the character become something real.


It’s smart to not fully detail the monochromatic phase before coloring, so I totally agree with Josh’s process. Some artists would fully detail the monochromatic version before adding color, and that tends to create a more artificial look, because once you lay down the micro details and textures, you’ll either have to make sure you color layer syncs up with those micro details, or else the image will appear a bit strange. Having to repaint the micro details and textures a second time during coloring just to match them up to the monochromatic details is a waste of time, so it’s much smarter to work out the general values as Josh has shown, and then do the micro details and textures in full color.


I thought I had already posted this. Guess I’ve been drinking too much…

Anyway, all done!


haha! that happens…
this is great. I’m not so disciplined about separating every step. I will keep this is mind.
Thanks Josh.


Thank you very much for this tutorial,very useful!


You all completely dropped the ball in telling me how lame the presentation looked on these. Also, I was ignoring my own advice by having background values darker than the foreground subject.

I apologize for these mistakes, and await my beatings patiently, in disgrace.

Edit: Images moved to first post.


I wish I could have seen that before :smiley:
I like it more now. Thanks


Started on another. Normally I wouldn’t put near as much work into the sketch, but this one turned out to be too much fun.

A lot of the details, which were unnecessary at this stage, will start to make sense once they’re painted.

Here’s an example of where I would start a sketch. I do some wiry looking thumbnails with action and direction of motion in mind. The image below is a “final” rough sketch based on the reference photo I took of myself. After that I usually put the reference away and don’t come back to it until I’m working on values.


Roughed in values.

Rendering a bit of detail and fine tuning values above the line art and rough values layer.


Hey Josh thanks for sharing your work in all of its stages. I find it very helpful. I had a question though. You said you don’t but much detail in your raw sketches but in this one you did. Do you find it more time consuming to render out a piece with so much detail at an early stage, because your following the lines of the drawing rather then just painting something that’s not there and using pure imagination? I ask because I for most part do put in a lot of detail in my work at an early stage and was just wondering if that’s a habit I need to break.:shrug:


Thanks MattU, I’m glad you’re finding it useful. It’s sometimes unpredictable how much line work you’re going to need. For me it usually henges on how familiar I am with a subject. But still I try to keep things petty loose for as long as possible. The tighter the line art, the less loose my painting feels. One thing is for certain, I don’t start painting until I have a clear image of what I’m working on.

Ultimately you want to create line art that solves the most problems for you. In illustration you’re usually working with a specific end goal in mind. So be sure your artistic process is solving problems to get you to that goal.


Alright, finally got some time to finish this dude up.

All the ancillary details knocked out and a lot of color work. Color is my weak point, so I usually sneak up on it at the end with saturation adjustments and experiments with colored secondary lighting. Below are all the steps leading up to this one.

Finished “advanced” values.

Roughed in basic colors.

Pretty much everything fully rendered on the “finishing” layer.