Digital Painting for Cartoon Characters
3.6 (200 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
2,634 students enrolled

Digital Painting for Cartoon Characters

Learn how to draw and paint characters in a cartoon style in Adobe Photoshop.
3.6 (200 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
2,634 students enrolled
Created by Bader Badruddin
Last updated 1/2019
English [Auto]
Current price: $20.99 Original price: $29.99 Discount: 30% off
5 hours left at this price!
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
This course includes
  • 4 hours on-demand video
  • 8 downloadable resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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What you'll learn
  • Use Adobe Photoshop for illustration and digital painting
  • Understand the basics of lighting and shading
  • Apply different techniques for painting digitally
  • Paint in Grey Scale and apply colours after all shading is done
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Pen and Tablet for drawing on the computer


        In this course you will cover the very basics of digital painting, starting with how to navigate the interface of Adobe Photoshop, and moving along to more complex techniques. 

        It is essential that if you want to get the best out of this course that you must have a copy of Photoshop, and a pen tablet for your mac/pc. You can find some affordable ones online with a quick search, and if you want to take your art seriously, you should definitely get one! 

        The course starts pretty easy, and builds up fast to keep you entertained whilst also educated at the same time. 

        what's included? 

  • Video demonstrations explaining as I paint

  • speed painting sections to show the full process without skipping any parts

  • Photoshop files so you can practice all of the steps in the lectures

        The course will keep growing as I will be adding more content as the days and weeks progress, and will try to cater some of the content to student feedback, so interaction is encouraged! 

Who this course is for:
  • Complete Beginners to digital painting
  • Students
  • Hobbyists
  • Illustrators wishing to learn how to paint digitally
Course content
Expand all 25 lectures 04:07:54
+ Photoshop Basics
2 lectures 13:07

If you are new to Photoshop, then please watch this video. If you have experience with the software, then you can skip on to section 2 where we start talking about painting and shading. It might be helpful however even if you are familiar with the software as I go through some of the tools I use.

Preview 06:16

In this video I explain how to flip the image horizontally to be able to notice any mistakes, and the use of the navigator tool.

flipping horizontally & using the navigator
+ Basics of Shading
3 lectures 43:54

In this lecture we cover the basics of shading a ball which we will later use to apply shadows and highlights to characters. If you want to practice this technique, I have included the Photoshop PSD file which has both the completed ball, and one you can work on.

Preview 13:05

Starting from a basic line drawing, we begin the process of blocking out all the basic colours and slowly applying shadow and light in the same way we did with the ball.

Painting a Cartoon face

Now we begin the clean up process and finalizing the image. Its a back a forth process, so feel free to follow along, or watch the video to the end and try it yourself in the Photoshop PSD file.

In the file you will have a completed image, and the basic line drawing to try the excercise yourself.

Preview 16:08
+ Grey Scale shading and Colour
6 lectures 56:02

Now we move on to a different technie where we paint in grey scale and apply colour afterwards. Using this method is really good for focusing only on the shapes and tones of any figure you are painting, adding more detail and definition as you go along. I highly recommend this technique for anyone who wants to get serious about digital painting.

Also, you can try it yourself in the Photoshop PSD file which has both a completed ball, and one to try out yourself.

Painting the ball in black and white

In this video we will take the same principles we talked about in the last lecture and apply it to a cartoon girl face. Things get a bit trickier here, so the videos are split into different stages to simplify the process.

Preview 14:40

Now we start the clean up process and start making a few changes.

Cleaning up and adjusting the grey scale painting

The next step is adding the colour. We use the same methods in the ball shading video, but play around with different colours to get the right hue for the character.

Adding Colour to the grey scale image

Lastly we begin the clean up process, making necessary changes as we go along.

You can try this excercise using the Photoshop PSD file, which has both the completed character, and a basic line drawing where you can apply what you have learned.

Painting over the colours and making adjustments

Here we go over a few techniques to enhance the illustration using filters and layer blending modes.

Adding some filters and enhancements to the painting
+ Conclusion
1 lecture 02:41

Quick wrap up of what we have covered. If you have any questions, please leave a comment and I will make sure to get back to you as soon as possible. Keep an eye out for course updates!

Final thoughts
+ Painting from Photos
8 lectures 01:30:54

lets take a look at what were going to cover in these lectures, with a few notes on what to look out for and what to avoid


After we pick our source photo to work from, we start to analyse the image and look for ways to make a quick cartoon sketch before we start our painting.

Preview 13:40

The next step is to clean up our sketch and draw our lines as clean as possible. Remember its not that we are trying to get perfect lines, because we will eventually remove the ink work we have done in this stage later on. Its just important to know what our painting will look like so we dont have to make a lot of guess work at a later stage. Its ok to change the image as we start to paint, but try to get a nice clean drawing early on to make the first part of painting a lot easier.

Cleaning up the drawing

Now that we have our clean drawing, we start to apply our main bold shadows and highlights. we arent going for any detail just yet, and our focus is on the main shapes and over all values that exist in the original source photo. work loose and keep refering to the small thumbnail image on the navigator view to see how your painting is coming along.

Applying our tones in grey scale

This is a fun but crucial part of the painting. Now we can start to focus on details, adding more dark shadows and brighter highlights. go in close, add smaller details to eyes, lips, and other finer details that help your image pop out. This is the final stage of grey scale painting, so try to get your shadows and highlights as close as possible to the final look you are going for as we will be applying colour in the next video.

Rendering and adding definition to the image

When applying colour, dont just look at the source image and pick colours straight out. Try to guess what the colour you are looking at is, without any picking. You think that flesh colour is a light brown/red colour? keep looking. It might have a hint of blue, green, pink, orange, etc. Keep adding more colours until you are satisfied with the hue you are getting. dont worry about edges too much, just colour!

Applying Colour

Once we're satisfied with our colour base, we can now add a new layer of colouring straight on to the painting. Just like we were rendering out the grey scale image, the idea here is to get into details and help pop out the image even further. Dont be afraid to deviate away from the source photo and add you own interpretation of light and shadow. Remember we arent going for an exact likeness, but a feeling and mood that is similar to the original.

Cleaning up our Colours

As always, its fun to play around with some layer blending modes and filters. Experiment with different tools in photoshop and don't stick to what I have done. try to make your own tweaks and see what results you get!

Download the Photoshop file to practice.

Adding some tweaks and final touches
+ Sketching
5 lectures 41:16

In this lecture we introduce the concept of sketching silhouettes by creating abstract shapes which we then use to make out shapes and slowly build a character face. This is a very useful method for creative sketching and coming up with concepts that you probably would not come up with otherwise.

silhouette sketching, the head.

Now with this approach we can start to sketch out some characters. The idea is to be as different as possible when coming up with the different silhouettes so you can give yourself more "randomness" and a variety of shapes to work off of. It can be a little hard at first as you are still focused on trying to make sense of the shapes, but it helps if you give yourself a vague description of what your sketching in the silhouettes. For instance, instead of saying "I'm going to sketch a short stumpy guy" you can say "This character is bulky and blocky". Do not force yourself to create arms, faces, heads, or anything particular, and focus more on "shapes".

Using silhouettes to create characters

Now we narrow down our characters to the ones we want to work with. We focus on the ones that are the most diverse and provide more opportunity for variance. If two silhouettes appear to be very similar, then its better to go for the ones that offer the most difference. We then take our silhouettes and use the sketch the same way we did the face to make a character. You will notice how the character is created on the spot, and a lot of creativity goes into making sense of the shapes presented. Have fun with this stage, its a lot of fun if you just let yourself go!

Preview 06:39

Now in this sped up video, you will see the creation of the other characters, and how different they all look compared to one another.

Exploring the other characters

Now that we have created some sketches with more detail, its time to choose one in particular and take it a step further. We added more details, and duplicated the character to create even more versions of the original sketch, adding some colour, and finally the option to expand and create a full illustration at the right scale.

Exploring one character even further