How To Create Depth In Your Character Designs

Jaysen Batchelor
A free video tutorial from Jaysen Batchelor
Illustrator & Designer
4.6 instructor rating • 13 courses • 667,775 students

Lecture description

In this lecture you will learn how to create depth in you characters design. This is done by overlapping shapes and forms to create the illusion of depth and space. You will also learn about tangents and why you should avoid them in your drawings.

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23:57:12 of on-demand video • Updated December 2019

  • How to design unforgettable characters
  • How to draw character body and poses
  • How to draw different styles of characters
English [Auto] In this lecture, we're going to be talking about tangents and how to create space and depth in your drawings. So all this stuff goes kind of hand in hand. So let's go ahead and let's first start talking about tangents and overlap and how that plays into our character design. So I'm going to start by just drawing a simple house profile, because I think that this will be a nice, simple way for you to understand what a tangent line is. So we have a little house right there. Now, what we're going to do is we're going to go ahead, we're going to draw another house. Let's say that this is a two story house. We're going to draw a one story house right next to it. So right by the side of it. So start by drawing the roof. Give it a little door. All right, great. So this right here is an example of tangent lines. So what a tangent line is. It's where lines just basically touch or line up together and it doesn't really look very good in our designs for multiple reasons. One reason is just the fact that we can't really tell any depth from this. So we can't tell if this house right here is further back or further forward than this one because they're right next to each other. And where a tangent line is, is our tangent line is right here, that line right there where the two houses are touching together. That's our tangent line. So how can we fix this? Well, what we can do to fix a change in line is we can either move them apart or we can create an overlap. And overlap is going to be the best way to create not just a non tangent line, but to create depth in our drawings. So let's go ahead and let's redraw this. So I'm going to start by slightly drawing up my two story house. And then I'm going to go ahead and I'm going to overlap it with. My one story house like that, you take my razor in a race out this line right here, and then I'll go ahead and darken that in. All right, great. So with this, what we've done is we've created an overlap, so now we have some depth. So by overlapping these, it gave us some depth because now we know that this little small house right here is a little bit further forward and in front of this big house because it's overlapping it. If we were to reverse them so that big houses in front of the little house, then we would know the big house was further in front of the little house. So by overlapping objects, that gives us depth. So right here we have overlap. But also, at the same time, we still have a tangent line, can you guess where it is? It's right here. That right there is our tangent line, so we still have a tangent line going on in this design. So even though we have achieved depth by overlapping the two objects, we still created a tangent line. So this is another form of tangent lines that we want to avoid. So any time you're drawing a character or a background or anything like that, you don't ever want lines that are separate objects to basically connect into each other. So the way we can fix this is by moving the small house over just a little bit more. So let's go ahead and let's redraw this. Then we can go ahead and darken these lines. And a little door and then this house, the door would be covered because it's covering it a little bit more than it was over here. So there we go. Now we have an overlap. And it's not just overlapping, but we got rid of that tangent line. So these two lines out there are no longer lined up. So we've achieved a much better composition for this drawing of these two houses. So let's just review this really quick before we move on. So a tangent line is lines that are touching together and we want to avoid that. So the way we can do that is by creating overlap or we can also move things apart. So we could avoid this by moving these houses apart. So there's a space between them. But generally we want to get that overlap. Overlap is what's going to create that space in depth in our drawings. So we went ahead and we overlapped it, but also created this tangent line right here. So we don't ever want lines to draw one line from an object into the line of another object. We want to split that up. So now we moved it over just a little bit more to break up that tangent line and then we have to overlap without any tangent lines. So let's have a look at just a few more examples. So let's say that we're drawn to characters right next to each other. That's. All right, so we have two characters to form standing right next to each other and we have a tangent line going on in here, so let's go ahead and work that out. So we want to avoid this tangent line that doesn't look very good because we can't tell which characters in front or which character is behind. So let's go ahead and let's try redrawing this and let's give them a nice overlap and get rid of all of our tangent line. So one way we can get rid of tangent lines is by making lines, going in opposite directions or having opposite angles. So, for example, if I draw this guy. More like this angle that way, and then the other guy can be angled. More this way. That go ahead and give them next. Right, so now we just achieved some overlap, so we took this guy, we put him in front and we put that guy behind him. And so not only did we achieve that overlap, but it creates that depth. And now we know that this guy is further back than this guy. And so that's what creating overlap is all about, is just creating that depth and space in your drawings. All right. Let's have a look at some other examples. So let's say that we're drawing something a little bit more three dimensional. So let's draw something in perspective. So I'm going to go ahead and create a vanishing point right there, and then I'm going to go ahead and I'm going to draw. Square shape like that, and then I can go ahead and connect my lines back to my vanishing point, and actually I'm going to move that vanishing point down just a little bit more so we can see the bottom surface of that cube. So right there, we're going to connect each corner back to that vanishing point and then we can go ahead and just draw that Cuban. All right, great. So now we have a cube there. Now we can go ahead and we can overlap this cube over another form. So let's say a cylinder, for example. So all we have to do is draw the beginning of a cylinder, which is just a circle. That we just have to make sure that we draw it behind that cube, that we can go ahead and connect the edges of that circle. We're going to have to kind of lightly draw a line right there so we know where the edges. We'll go ahead and draw the profile of the cylinder and then we can go back in there and iRace out these guidelines. So there we go. So there's some overlapping forms and all we have to do to flip this around is basic or not flip it, but just flip the position of these is we just have to put the circle in front of the square. So let's go ahead and let's try drawing this again. So draw a vanishing point and we're going to draw a circle first and then draw square. I'm just going to draw them in lightly for now. All right. So we'll start by drawing our cylinder. Go ahead. Bring that back to the vanishing point. Try the other edge of the cylinder and those edges right there, that will draw a cube. No connect back to this vanishing point that. Right there. So if they were going to have that piece going to get that corner. So there we go. So now we have the cylinder in front of the queue and so you can see by changing what is overlapping, what it tells you, what's in front of the Ofwat. And not only that, but it just creates that depth. I keep seeing this because I want to hit home with this, is that you need to create as much depth and you're drawing as possible. So when you're drawing a character, if it just looks flat, it's not going to look that good. But the more depth you have in the more understanding of that form you have, the better your drawing and character design is going to look. And one way to achieve that is by doing overlap. All right. So let's have a look at another example. So let's say that we're drawing a character and let's say this character is kind of peeking around a corner. Draw his head, his chest, his torso. Strong arm. They don't go on darknet and. Right, so there we go, there's a character, he's kind of peeking around the corner of a building I haven't drawn the building in because I don't want to demonstrate that. At first, I just want to point out that we have some overlap going on here. And that's not the purpose of this drawing I was doing. I just want to point it out that that's another example of overlap. Right there is this hand overlapping. His body tells us that his hand is further forward than his body and also his his jawline or his head over his neck. That's overlapping. And so that tells us that his head is a little bit further forward than his neck. So those are just two more examples of overlap. But what I want to talk about is a tangent line that I should really avoid. So like we talked about here, where one line of an object goes into another, it can also just be objects just touching each other right at the tip. So, for example, if he's peeking around a building and we draw the building right there, the edge of the building and his elbows basically touching it, well, now we cannot tell whether he is in front of the building behind the building or whether he's right at the corner in his elbows touching that corner. We can't tell because those are touching. So we want to avoid this. That is not good. What we want to do is we want to overlap because that way it'll tell us that the building is in front of him and that he's kind of peeking out behind that building so we can go ahead and draw the building like that. And that's going to create much better composition. So even when you're just drawing a single character design without a background or anything, you just want to avoid that as much as possible. So if they if they're wearing some sort of costume, you don't ever want tangent lines that are touching like that. All right. Now let's have a look at one more example. So this example will kind of demonstrate where this is going to show up when you're drawing characters where you want it to overlap and stuff like that and how it creates space. So let's say, for example, that we're drawing. A body, someone to go ahead and just kind of draw a diamond shaped like that for the pelvis area, draw thigh. Draw a circle for the kneecap for kind of a trapezoid shape. For the calf, and then I'm a draw fooding. So I'm just keeping these nice and simple forms of shapes going durcan that in. All right, so let's say that we have a character in there standing there like that. That's not very dynamic, but that's OK. This is just for demonstration purposes. So right now, we can't really tell that much about the space that our character is standing. And we're just basically getting straight on side view without any perspective. And in reality, what we're getting here is we're actually getting tangent lines. You don't know it because you can't see it. But he basically has another Lake City directly behind this leg and it's causing a tangent line that you just can't see. And that's boring and it looks bad. So what we want to do is we want to have some space in this. And all we have to do is let's say that the camera kind of angles up a little bit more, is looking down. We're going to start to see the other foot in the other leg. So, for example, we can go ahead and start drawing the other foot and leg in there. That. Search on the other shinin other kneecap. Then we can go ahead and have a chat on the ground being cast from the body. Right, but there we go, so you can see right there, just by adding that second foot a little bit higher up and behind this leg right here, it creates an overlap and it creates that space because now you can almost imagine that he's standing on a surface. If I were to kind of draw some lines in to represent that surface, you can see that he would be standing on a surface like that. And we created that space in our drawing, that sort of perspective, just by adding that second ilagan there. So just to recap, we want to avoid tangent lines. Any type of tangent line is bad and we want to create as much overlap as we can without making things look weird. But if it's natural, we want to create natural overlap. So such as this hand right here or that second leg back there, we want to create that overlap because that creates depth and space and our drawing. Thanks for watching this lecture and I will see you guys in the next one.