Expressive Characters

Wouter Tulp
9 Lessons (6h 45m)
9 Week(s)

Two Ways to Learn


most popular

  1. Watch Video Lessons at Your Own Pace
  2. Assignments Included
  3. Peer Feedback
  4. Switch Courses as Often as You Like
  5. Access to all Schoolism Webinars included

Critiqued Sessions

personalized instructor feedback

  1. Watch Video Lessons with a Planned Curriculum
  2. Scheduled Assignments with Deadlines
  3. Personalized paint-overs and feedback videos
  4. Peer feedback
  5. Ability to Contact Instructor with Questions
  6. Physical Certificate of Completion (Mailed to you anywhere in the world)
  7. Access to all Schoolism Webinars included

Course Description

In Wouter Tulp's class, Expressive Characters, you'll learn his many techniques in creating characters that speak to your audience, as well as to your idea. Over the nine week course, Wouter will teach you his techniques in character exaggeration, including how to emphasize proportion, dimensionality, weight, facial expressions, acting, and much more, all in order to give your characters life and make them more believable. You'll learn whether to emphasize feeling, function, or force when trying to develop your character concept, and how further exaggeration can help get this concept across. Each lesson maintains the three steps of observe, emphasize and exaggerate, and each lesson will have you creating new characters for review. If you want to learn more about character creation for illustration and animation, then this is the class for you!

➡︎ For the ‘Critiqued Sessions’, students will meet up with Wouter Tulp LIVE once per week on Wednesdays at 7am PT / 10am ET.

  • Adobe Photoshop

Lesson Plan

In lesson one, you'll learn to apply one of the core fundamentals of character design, exaggeration. Exaggeration can be an incredibly useful element in your designs, and helps to communicate what your character is feeling, doing, or help describe their personality. You will gather your own photo reference, define your concept, emphasize the idea, and try to bring to life the idea you want to communicate through exaggeration.

In your second week, you'll work on incorporating the illusion of dimensionality to your characters by using techniques such as perspective, foreshortening, overlap, and much more. 2D shapes often lay the groundwork for any expressive character design, and there are several ways to make your drawings appear more three dimensional, without losing what the initial shape exploration gave you.

As well as feeling and personality, exaggerating the character's force and movement is very important. In week three you'll learn about the line of action, lines and angle relationships, and arrow dynamics through observing, emphasizing, and again exaggerating the pose.

Giving your designs the feeling of weight and further exaggerating it gives a certain believability to your them. In lesson four you'll learn techniques in which to infuse more weight into your character's poses to create that realistic feeling.

Hair and clothing are great ways to let your audience know when and where your characters are from, and help to describe personality and feeling. This lesson goes over creating gesture and form, considering the volume of the body, applying force and gravity to hair and clothing, as well as how different types of materials are affected.

Maintaining consistency with your characters is crucial, and learning to create a variety of facial expressions that fit into the realm of your character is a big part of this consistency. You'll learn about the volumes of the face, squash and stretch, arrow dynamics as it applies to the face, expressions, and treating the head and jaw and two separate parts.

In week seven you'll start applying the techniques of caricature to your character designs. You'll start by gathering photo reference, finding the characteristics of the face that stand out, simplifying a few visual elements that best describe the face, exaggerating, and applying those properties to your own character design.

Exaggeration can also be applied to your character's acting in order to bring them to life on the page. To do this, you'll be finding reference of actor's to study body language and how they move and appropriate that knowledge so your character appears to act. This lesson goes over becoming your character, finding the pose, creating thumbnails, how to come up with ideas, and more.

In the final lesson, you'll learn about character relationships, and how introducing one or more characters into the scene affects your initial character design. The techniques you'll learn in this last lesson include contrast (big vs small, thick vs thin, old vs. young), and coming up with character interactions that help support the personalities.


Wouter Tulp

Wouter Tulp is a freelance character designer based in the Netherlands. He is known for his versatility as an illustrator, having illustrated over a hundred children's books, as well as caricatures and editorial illustrations in high-circulation newspapers and magazines.