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Design Essentials

Lesson 1 in Designing Better Characters

Lesson Information

This first lesson will cover a lot of ground. Wouter will help you come up with your initial idea, then take you through some of the pieces of software he uses throughout the course. There will be separate sections showing his preferred techniques in Photoshop, Daz 3D, Blender and Fusion 360. Afterwards, you will learn the principles of design, including proportions, shape theory, detail placement, color and value. Finally, you will use everything you learned to create preliminary sketches of your character in Photoshop.

Dear Mr. Fantasy

Come up with your own unique character and prop idea for this course. Take some time to shamelessly fantasize about what life is like for that character, and how their prop fits into their daily life. 

Get in Shape

Create your own custom shapes by combining multiple simple shapes together. 

For extra credit in this exercise, try turning the shapes around in your head and drawing them from different angles. 

Macro vs Micro

Add details to your previously created shapes. Think about the form, scale and functionality of each detail and why it would be there. 

Nice to Meet Hue

Add some color to your previously drawn shapes. Keep in mind the values of the colors you're using. 

I Understood That Reference

Put together a reference sheet for your character and prop. 

A Character is Born

Create some exploration sketches for your character and prop. These drawings are for you, and don't need to look particularly pretty. If you feel comfortable sharing your designs at this stage, post them on the Learn Squared site. If not, you can do so with future lessons instead. 

Extra Credit

Create a few more sketches, this time focusing specifically on the interaction between your character and prop.


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I just finish the entire course. I bought a lot of courses with the years, this is by far the best. It’s crazy how many design principles I just learn. Also very good explanations and practices about how to implement all the design keys in a fast workflow.

Hi Jeremy! I use red for no particular reason, other than it's an easy colour to see if I'm colouring in the lines correctly. When doing flat colours, I tend to pick a random colour (red) and later shift it (with ctrl + u) to the desired colour when all layers are filled in. This is mostly because I often don't have a clear vision for the colours I want, and need to 'find' them afterwards by hue shifting. Hope that helped!

Excellent great course to me. I'm familiar with the programs shown because I already use them on the daily basis. So I was really interested in how the instructor shows his workflow to bring characters. No need for EXCELLENT anatomy knowledge. Let the tools serve you. Daz3D is super easy (Check Youtube) and you can replace any other 3D package with the ones you familiar with. It's more about designing characters than teaching you to use specific software. At least to me.

The trailer is pretty clear to say that the course is a demonstration of Wouter's workflow (as all the Learned Squared courses are) and that's precisely why I purchased it. I am fairly experienced on all the softwares he demonstrates and I can safely say this course presents one of the best/smartest ways I've ever seen on using them together. Extremely useful! I'll definitely incorporate this into my own workflow.

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yes man, and if you dont know how to use very well do as I am doing... pinterest for refs ... or youtube for basic tutorials ... I have clip studio paint and I think I will even try the 3d. they have a manekin and I believe you can even make scenes there... Are you Brazilian (I am)... cause your name is very brazilian :D .

This course is really hard. It sort of just tells you to go learn a program, then leaves you to figure it out for yourself. If you don't already have a great working knowledge of Daz3D, Blender, Photoshop, Fusion360 and others, this is pretty intimidating and overwhelming.

Lesson Plan