Christmas character design challenge: a festive orc – part 1


In this tutorial we will look at the process of creating a character. We‘ll start by coming up with a concept for the orc, then we‘ll give him a sleigh, and in the third chapter we‘ll put the two next to one another and add colors and some extra effects. As usual my path is very straight forward and easy to apply to your own ideas.

sleigh ogre christmas fantasy themes 2d illustration drawing digital art

Our final result

Pose sketches

If you already have in your mind what you want your character to be and know exactly where to start, that‘s great. Maybe you are very familiar with what you are going to draw or you already spent hours thinking about it while working on something else. But if the subject is unfamiliar to you or you don‘t know where to start that‘s no problem either. Simply pick a reference pose you think that might be good. It doesn‘t have to look like the character you are about to design yet. In the reference I picked I liked the way the character slightly slouches into one side. Then on the right I did a rough drawing of how the proportions of my orc are going to be different to that of a human.

pose sketching human reference sheet imagery sketch 2d

Start with a pose you find interesting and draw a sketch of the proportions you are aiming for.

Constructing the shape of the body

In our next step we simply draw our pose while transforming its proportions so we get something that resembles the proportions of our orc sketch. Note how I took the major masses (hips, chest, and head), and adjusted their proportions. As you can see I removed the sideways tilt of the chest and adjusted the pose as I didn‘t find the slouching element suited for an orc. Here the arm muscles turned out to be a bit too bulky, something I will amend in our next step.

constructing body parts 2d illustrations ogre christmas fantasy themes 2d illustration drawing digital art

We construct the body based on the two references we got from our previous step.

Tweaking the shapes and designing the head

Once I‘m happy with the overall design of the body I redraw it and see where I can improve it. Usually it can be the same pose but if you are like me and you like to challenge yourself, feel free to use a different one. Then we look at the head. The basic shape we already decided in our previous step but we can move the features around until we get something we are happy with. It helps to place a few versions next to one another so you can compare your results. In my case I first thought that a long chin might be cool, but then noticed how a lower mouth makes it look much more like the face of an orc.

ogre facial expression sketches designs ogre christmas fantasy themes 2d illustration drawing digital art

Try a few different faces and compare them until you find the one that‘s perfect.

Cleaning up our drawing

Once we are happy with the design of our head it‘s time to transfer the proportions to the head of our character. Clean up the lines of the overall character until the muscle shapes are only slightly visible. Their shapes should be well defined and readable but without attracting too much attention. Once I‘m happy I start adding a first layer of clothing. You can draw the clothes in one go but I always like to think in layers.

drawing clean up armour sketch ogre christmas fantasy themes 2d illustration drawing digital art

Having considered every element carefully makes cleaning up the lines a rewarding task.

Designing the armor

We are going to add Christmas-themed elements later, but for now we will focus on the important aspects of his clothes. We want to give him some nice fur in order to help him cope with the nasty winter temperatures and also add a lot of leather, buckles and stitches in order to get the right vibes for an orc armor. Because I usually design with lines I do a quick silhouette check in the end by filling the whole character with black, and making sure the shapes are readably.

Next time we will look at the sleigh.

ogre christmas fantasy themes 2d illustration drawing digital art

If you design with lines don‘t forget to check the silhouette.

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