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Character Creation for Illustrators and Designers (Weekend)

Character Creation for Illustrators and Designers (Weekend)

Central Saint Martins
Taught by
April Wilson


This workshop is for anyone wishing to create a character in clay that can be animated and drawn in any position required. These characters can easily be adapted to use for illustrating a narrative, a repeat pattern design for textiles or paper products, and for designing a logo.

You will learn how to model a character in clay step by step, and how to manipulate this to facilitate drawing from all angles. Storyboard creation and methods of designing repeat patterns will be worked through by the students.

By the end of the course, you should acquire the confidence to create a 3D character of your own and to further develop it through drawing into narratives or repeat patterns.

Who should take this course?

Illustrators, textile designers and graphic designers.

Topics covered

The course will be taught through tutor led demonstrations and practical hands-on activities, which will cover:

  • modelling a character in clay and manipulating it into any position to aid drawing
  • identifying and drawing facial expressions which match the emotions generated by events within a sequence
  • planning and drawing a small accordion book sequence using your character to illustrate a narrative
  • creating a storyboard
  • creating a repeat pattern using your characters

Day 1
In the morning I will show you how to make your clay character. This will be followed by a series of carefully executed observational drawings aimed at becoming both familiar with your character and confident in drawing him in any position.
Next, you will begin to adapt human facial expressions representing various emotions onto your character through drawing. This will be continued after lunch.
In the afternoon, you and a partner will explore how two characters could interact when presented with a challenging situation. You will illustrate this exercise in full colour onto an accordion book format. This will be a good opportunity for you to try out what you have learned about facial expressions and body language.

Day 2
In the morning we will discuss other ways to use your characters such as in greetings cards, repeat patterns for textiles and wrapping papers, and other printed products for merchandising.
You will learn how to make a repeat pattern using your character which could be applied to wrapping paper or textile prints.
In the afternoon the class may divide into two allowing you to further develop the area which most interests you. One choice will be to develop the repeat patterns in more detail and investigate other ways to expand these designs. The second choice will be to begin a full storyboard working with a partner, either using a new theme, or expanding the sequence you did previous day.

Please note: This course is for students aged 18 and older

Tutor Description

April Wilson is an artist and illustrator who has written and illustrated many children's books. To find out more about April's work, and this course, please visit her website


Please bring the following materials to the first session

  • Drawing pad
  • Graphite pencils
  • Coloured pencils (optional)
  • A rubber
  • Scissors

Recommended Reading
Illustrating Children's Books by Martin Salisbury

Available dates