Animal Character Design with Davids Doodles

Animal Character Design with Davids Doodles


[Music] Stan: Hey everybody! The Proko team went to Lightbox Expo this
year where we got to meet a bunch of you guys, see some great art and got professional artists
to demo at our booth. For our first Lightbox video, I’m bringing
in David Doodles. David’s an illustrator, designer and story
artist in the film industry. He’s worked for Disney, Sony, Cartoon Network
and too many more to list. So, sit back and watch how David draws animals
from imagination. David: Hello, my name is David Colman. You can follow me @davidsdoodles, that’s what
– and I’m known for my animal illustration. I think today I’ll just gonna start with a
tiger. Usually when I start out with any – any subject
really, I just kind of try to think about who that character is from a design standpoint,
but just in terms of like my actual animal illustration, just to stay kind of loose,
dance around the form. Never lock anything in right away. And you can see a lot of my influences here,
I mean, Frazetta is one of my biggest influences and definitely when you see the kind of the
loose energy for my work, it’s definitely – they are the works of Heinrich Kley. I just like to make it feel like it’s still
alive and moving. And it’s almost like just like to let the
pencil dance across – across the page and constantly checking myself. And when you understand the subject well enough,
you can usually put in almost in any position even ones that are not traditional. Personality and energy is really what’s – what
I love. That’s what I kind of gravitate towards and
that’s usually what my, I guess you’d say my brand is about and that type of work. You start to see – when I start hitting those
areas, that’s where I know I’m kind of happy with it. And if it can evoke an emotion either from
– well, from the character itself, you know, to at least to elicit one, and then it can
evoke an emotional response from the audience as well. I’m gonna start to lay in some color in here,
it’s kind of how I kind of approach that. I’m just leaving the negative space for the
whites that I know of for the Tiger’s patterning. I think about where the ear is and then I
start to think about how the skull separate from some large neck muscles. Usually with the professional work when I’m
working for clients, with design, I try – if it’s for features and I have time, I will
try to draw it traditionally. I just – it’s something I’m more – gravitate
towards more, but overall, it’s usually digital work. But when I draw with my own work, I usually
try to stay pretty traditional. It’s just – is very cathartic for me. My love of shape continues beyond just the
actual silhouette of it all, even when I start laying in the color, I go for a certain amount
of shape choices. The tops of tigers usually have a darker tone
due to this fact of camouflage against the ground from above. That’s why I always would drop a darker tone
in the top. Even when you starts to deal with the anatomy,
I will also start to carve back into it with shape, either a marker or a pencil. And then to kind of soften edges, that’s when
I start to bring the pencil in to it. You start to see it take a little bit more
shape. And I usually won’t go too far into this round
without starting to bring the whites in, the muzzle. And some of you might have been asking like
even why I’m starting to kind of trail us off here and you’ll see when I get to at the
end, I kind of do these mystical Tigers and having males to like sitting almost in some
sort of fog. Good way to also keep those shadows translucent
is using the tone of the paper as your mid value and then sometimes bringing some sort
of cooler color to actually push it back a little bit without making it too opaque, just
like in any painting. And that is why I just start to kind of really
flash it out a little bit more and start to really jump back and fourth. A lot of it is just pushing and pulling now,
the lights and darks. What’s kind of cool is since I can do the
stripes in black, I don’t have to worry about like too much light color down. The marker and pencil like line is actually
is very forgiving. Speaker: That’s not a graphite pencil, is
it? David: Yeah, it’s prismacolor, so it’s colored
pencil, so it’s more waxy. Even when making specific choices, I’m taking
the subject into account and even the anatomy of that subject and making certain shape,
directions of shaped choices and just like you’ve been keeping the head up, kind of combined
with the you know, the actual expression, kind of get more of a regal feel. Sometimes I don’t even choose to put the paw
up here, it was just something that just felt right for this. Even though I handle the strokes and the stripes,
I still think about the actual fur of the animal, I just being very conscious in that
complete ‘V’, filling in the black it’ll be hard to back up from that, but you see even
leading to this little area here is that’s the lighter plane, it’s facing up from the
lip and the darker plane that’s underneath the muzzle can actually – can block it in
a little bit more and at the same time, choosing a certain shape around it. When the stripes come down over the triceps
and the deltoids, they usually split. In here, I’m just gonna make a change because
I feel there’s a parallel between the stripes and kind of that sculptural anatomy choice
I make there. I’m gonna break it up a little bit. Honestly, it’s a journey each time. I mean, there’s a certain sense when I start
out with an intention of putting a – putting a tiger with its head up like this, but then
I kind of let whatever the – the natural inclination is or my intuition is for where it’s gonna
take me. It’s never completely set in stone. I’m trying to get that paw in there. Speaker: How much animal Anatomy have you
studied? David: Quite a bit, I don’t think I’m faking
it here, right? So, I used to teach at the LA Zoo for quite
a long time. I think about 10 years. You need to know the real in order to cartoon
it, that’s why I’d to spend a lot of time in studying fundamentals, the foundational
stuff. So, a lot of books, videos and spent a lot
of times at the zoos. Drawing is a lot more thinking than actual
drawing, and when you’ve you know, you’ve studied so much from life and from books,
it kind of just comes naturally after a while, but there’s still a conscious effort especially
when it comes to making certain decisions. So, if anyone ever says “oh my god, you’re
lucky you draw this way.”, I’m like “Luck has nothing to do with it”. Like I just – I just really work at it you
know and even to this day, I’m always trying to better my understanding of everything,
of whatever it is I’m drawing. I think the only lucky thing I had is I found
something I like doing and was able to make a living at it but it was not an easy – easy
path at all. So, still thinking about where the chest muscles
will be, so I’ll get like a hard edge in here, let that side fall off, a little bit of highlights
from there and then as it starts to kind of recede down, under the chest, I let the actual
natural value of the paper read for that – that darker like mid-tone and sometimes just bringing
up with a nice cool in there. I guess it’s a lot of jumping back and forth,
what I feel is gonna work well. Come to the darks a little bit, not too much,
give me kind of light, lighting the overall, so let’s speak for itself and not worry about
sculpting it too much. I’m gonna get that nice lyrical smoke or fog
or whatever it is you wanna – getting a little bit of more, like I said, magical, mystical
behind it all. Something nice is to take just the pencil
and curve back into it bringing up the forms that like I’m seeing and I’m liking and this
– and I get this nice lost edge in here and so maybe we just kind of – a little translucent,
a little shadow on there. You know, I talked about of the part and influences,
I said Frank Frazetta, obviously he’s a big one. He’s the reason I be – kind of became an artist
in an early age, Heinrich Kley. When it comes to doing my animal work, obviously
you see influences of you know, Claire Wendling is one, Bob Kuhn it’s another one. I really like them a lot. And Joe Weatherly was my teacher, learned
a lot from him. Sometimes it’s nice to add a little bit of
design elements to the outside, kind of helping to solidify form. Sometimes you know, people ask like “how come
there’s no eyeball in there?” it just depends, when these kind of these – those more mystical
ones I’ve been doing recently, there’s something, just kind of this ominous look to it that
I kind of like. I’m just using the really – the high value
white here for just kind of those really really hot areas, and a lot of it is – it’s even
almost who I am as a person, I’ve got a scatterbrain at times, I jump around in a lot different
areas but it’s whatever speaks to me, whatever is really calling out. Sometimes, I’ll find things in the drawings
that I really like, like one of my favorite parts here is just how this – you kind of
get the bottom of the forearm and there’s also this really nice, almost like a calligraphy
type line as it hits a straight and then reverses back in into the ends of the little toes here
which is like you know, the tarsals area. So, sometimes there’s certain things in each
drawing that it really really attracts me, like my own work and I’m like “yeah, that’s
kind of cool. I’d probably will never do that again.” but it’s a very nice area to find. And when you get to the black, it’s kind of
nice to bring up the stripes with a nice little blue where it’s hitting the light in the sky
or the Sun above, something. But it’s nice to just do some kind of graphic
shapes behind it that could either represent something specific like moon or Sun, but also
kind of gives us a nice design element to it. I always loved that with – with Mucha that
used to do that, that’s another influence of mine. This nice motifs they have around the figure. And then, we’ll go back through and clean
it up at times, but sometimes it’s kind of nice to kind of let it just breathe on its
own and see how it’s looking, let those rough lines show through. It’s very cool for people to see the process. So, nobody is – not anyone who’s watching
this video later you notice I just keep turning around looking at the monitor and a lot of
it is to see how it – how it works from like a distance. A good trick actually, sometimes I’ll just
take a picture of it with my iPhone and then I’ll stand back and look at. It’s like a reduction glass for painters. So it’s really nice to kind of get like a
bird’s-eye view from it and then the problem areas pop out you know. I’m gonna wrap it up here. [Music] A wolf… Oh okay, we’ll do a wolf. Maybe not a full-color drawing. Speaker: Rainbow wolf! David: Right yeah… Oh geez! Once again, dancing around on the page, feeling
myself through the form. In this way, you can really see the anatomy,
like knowledge. I Love these huge big collars as well. This one I think I’m gonna change. Sometimes I just want to go back and making
different choices. The weight didn’t feel right. I want to actually plant this one. And always being careful, what we would call
twinning, like from my animation days but just making sure that the legs are offsetting
him a little bit, so we’ve got one foot here, breaking up this large space between front,
fore limbs in the back and that’s why – because if I actually space them all together, it
would – well, the negative spacing would get even, so that’s why I try to – always try
to offset it a little bit. Speaker: In these early stages, are you finding
the pose as you go or do you have a clear image in your head? David: Sometimes I’ll take an animal and because
I’m – I have a lot of knowledge of the anatomy, I’ll start to put it in these very, almost
like lyrical dancing poses. That’s like a very much a Heinrich Kley thing
and you wouldn’t see a wolf in this type of pose so much, but you – it’s kind of very
cool, you see like it’s almost like it’s falling or dancing very look. I mean, you could if would like he just like
fell off a cliff or just a horrible thing. Sometimes I like to do you know, animals in
this type of pose because it’s – like I said, it’s atypical, it’s unorthodox but at the
same time, it works. The parts are in the right spot, it’s a locomotion
that could happen, so, not one you’re gonna see. I think that’s like a Heinrich Kley influence
for sure. Claire Wendling does it a lot too, it’s in
a lot of her earlier work, I loved seeing that. But it has a lot of life to it too, you know? Let’s get back and finish this. But anyway, sometimes in terms of finding
the pose, it’s a matter that like, when he said “wolf”, I just went traditional but sometimes
I like to do that too and I’ll all bail on it, you know, when I’m not for this but when
it’s just somethings like “nah, it’s nothing really exciting me, show me something different. Do something that’s different”. Each time I’m always trying to try something
new. My days of character design which – I still
do a lot of character design but it’s versatility always kept me working, so I think I kind
of – and that’s in terms of style and I kind of take that over in even to my personal drawings,
it kind of makes it exciting for me and it’s like I’ve many different ways to offer and
like – it’s like sometimes if I go, “what is my brand style?” or one thing I always
have is always this much energy and life to it, so that comes across. But when planning the legs, be very conscious
of weight. Make sure the toes spread. Sometimes also these – I like these color
raced pencils a lot but sometimes they get kind of hardened, so I’ll switch over just
to straight prismacolor but then you have the disadvantage of not being able to back
out of it as well. And continuing to like design the shapes with
the anatomy in mind, like a certain amount of anatomical design where it’s legitimate,
it’s – that is what the form to do but there’s certain choices. Like in nature, everything is not exactly
the same. Like even here as terms of finding the forms,
it’s like where I want the ear to go, do I want it back, do I want it up? Because the head is down, for me I want to
make it feel a little more timid and you can even feel like – just even the way the back
legs are, it’s a wolf that’s maybe in a situation that’s – that’s a little bit more compromised. Maybe unsure if it’s in its place in the pack
you know? Definitely not an alpha. One thing that also – a certain thing about
wolf is like the definite mass and still kind of taking in some elements of shape design;
this is where the collar is. And even when you start to go over your own
lines, remember don’t just continue to go over them, like you want to add something
to it each time. A lot of times even with my board where – some
of my storyboards, I have this great spontaneity in the first panel and if I start them- again,
it’s not really, well, looking like the character or the subject, I start going over it and
it starts losing that life. So, that’s why each time you actually – you’re
actually trying to take the spontaneity they’ve created from the rough and add something to
it. So, don’t just – if you start tracing those
lines, it just – you completely lose that life from the original sketch you know? So, you may just start to define the paws
a little bit. And it’s like you – definitely can still feel
that weight, like when those toes hit the ground, right? So it’s something to be very very conscious
of. And then, when it comes to things in the back,
I’ll just knock it back, keep a nice 2d silhouette, it reads throughout everything there and then
it’s like “oh, I really like this part.” like for example you have a nice curve up
untill it’s a straight and look at this, it just makes a nice negative space right there,
you know? As opposed to if I put the paws separate,
then your eye gets turned on and off back and forth between the negative and positive. So, everyone who is worried about like the
clear silhouette, but you make certain choices with that. It’s okay to overlap the forms, don’t get
a tangent with any of it, but it makes it the overall illustration image read much better. Because even on this tiger, I just – you can
see how the silhouette works it’s real nice you know? And there’s a nice sense of like – like a
lot more curves on this side and I have some immediate straighter straights on this side
you know. But there’s still some very lyrical forms
happening [Inaudible]. Speaker: When you start to notice that you’re
losing the life of the drawing, how do you recover? David: I just throw it away… No, [Chuckles] I just start dancing back through
it again. Like even I am now, I started to feel like
these legs are too thick, so I’m starting to bring this out a little bit. There’s no magic answer I think. Reality is just go back what the original
thought was and start to go back into it. Like even on the tiger here I felt I started
to lose some of the personality in it, so that’s why I went ahead and made sure the
expression really started to dictate and define a little bit more that wiggle feel to it. So I first thought the eye was to open. So I think, if it has that type of pose, and
then all of a sudden the eye was to open, it would contradict itself, it wouldn’t come
off as well. And then it’s a matter of going back in and
finding what the right combination of it is to either keep the spontaneity of it all or
to keep the character. I just have to throw some whites in there. You can kind of see like there – there’s a,
still like a difference between where these are more like shapes, more shape driven and
stuff and this is a little bit more – I think I like more realistic drawing but I still
always try to bring some sort of design element into it in terms I have definitive, I can
be worried about the – like a bit of folds of fur, so you get hard edges and soft edges. And one thing I noticed here in terms of the
character, like it – once again, it feels like an in theory a little bit more than theory,
wolf the pose, so I’ll make a conscious effort to just drop the tail between the legs
and that reinforces kind of that character and also compositionally, it’s kind of nice,
it brings that eye back in. Tails are such a great thing for quadruped
and animals to use in terms of like your general composition of it all. I know like how square some of these toes
are, so I’m going to try to start to round it off, sorts of feel a little bit better
when you start to soften it a little bit but make sure it’s straight on the bottom so it
feels like you get that way. You really see it on this one. Now, this will come at a darker green right
here but I have a lighter pencil, that’ll bring it out more. And I usually, if you’ve noticed even on this,
on the tiger, I usually leave the eyes for the end. Famous saying “the eyes are the windows of
the soul”, it’s true when it comes down to it and so it’s like a make or break something. But sometimes there’s a certain expression
I’ll catch in the first few lines and I’m like “I love that”, so I really leave it alone
till the end, you know? So there’s almost a little bit of pressure
“this will ruin everything if I screw this up”. You know, it’s like this internal dialogue
I have. But don’t lock in like those eyes too soon. I mean, like I said when I first start off,
I don’t work in any form too soon. Just like foxes and tigers, they have that
eyeliner. Kind of like those big big paws, it’s very
wolf like. That’s what I really like about this tone
paper because it adds as a mid value, so however I want to bring out the form, whether sometimes
on the form itself or just in terms of even the negative spacing around it. It’s nothing new, but it’s just something
to kind of remember. And it allows me to kind of highlight an area
that I want everyone to look at. Speaker: Do you have a favorite animal to
draw? David: Whoo! I get that a lot. Well, big cats. Tigers are the number one animal in the world
favorite. Wolves are up there and I just happen to like
drawing Tigers. There’s just so much, the musculature and
the sculptural aspect of it, but they’re also very elegant and graceful and there’s just
so many different ways you can go about it. You know, you can, like I said, make them
peaceful and tranquil or very ferocious. Wolves used to be for a while, I mean, not
as much anymore, that’s why I chose to draw when he asked. I like bears, I mean, I have a whole book
on bears and stuff. Elephants have a lot of character, giraffes
too. I love all of the world’s creatures, right. But it’s kind of – it’s kind of cool when
I find something new to gravitate towards that I can just – that I want to learn some
more about. I just don’t know the time to sit and study
like I used to. There’s been times that I’ve had to draw like
spaceships and stuff, so I will look at insects, it’s really good reference for that. I’ll knock this back, just a little to darker
the value in there, that back. Speaker: What was the process like when you
put together your first book? David: Oh gosh! Well, I realized that I could never really
be a producer because I can’t meet my own deadlines, but I actually read a book called
the “Self-Publishing Manual” and it was just – that really helped me in terms of self-publishing,
but I think the biggest lesson I learned is that you don’t have to write it, it’s not
linear, so I would – I’d carry a notebook around me like in the car or even in – when
I’m stuck in traffic, write an idea for a chapter, I’d write it down and I have like
a three-ring binder and then – and then at the end I opened the binder, took the pages
out and put them on the floor and then started actually making an order out of them, you
know? And when I feel, well that can be a chapter,
I combine those two chapters and then I’d start doing specific drawings for them. But a lot – I had – I already had a big library
of my own work that would work well for the book. I’ve done six books and I’m you know, I still
intend to do more. People are still waiting for the tiger book. In the next book I’m gonna do is – my wife’s
a breast cancer survivor, so I did a series of animals last year during October, during
breast cancer awareness month where they were like animals with pink ribbons and I would
sell them for real cheap and then donate half the money to – to this foundation, we raised
almost $1,500 and then I think I’m now – this year, I’m gonna put those into a book and
do the same thing and then each year I’m gonna try to do a book of those and stuff like that. And things like that, when I started doing
that, it’s just kind of like little compositional element to kind of bring back in. Sometimes you’ll see me, I’ll put like a bigger
animal with a smaller animal to create a story, but also for compositional elements and I’ll
put like a butterfly or something but it just does – that doesn’t fit for this right here. Okay, so I think I’m gonna wrap it right there. Is that good? Give me this, I’ll write, I’m gonna write
my Instagram right here. Funny thing is like I could draw but I just
can’t write to save my life. So that’s @davidsdoodles. Signature on the page and that’s it. And thanks for your time, I hope you guys
enjoyed that. Cool, thank you. Stan: Thanks for the demos David! We’re only halfway through with the 12 Days
of Proko, so come back tomorrow for some more good stuff. And if you like these demos, let our robot
overlords know by hitting those Like and Subscribe buttons. It helps the channel and it helps us make
more cool videos. Okay everyone, see you next time!

65 thoughts on “Animal Character Design with Davids Doodles”

  1. JUST uploaded and someone already disliked it…. there are truly haters out there, man! On the other hand, I liked it as soon as I opened the video xD

  2. Just the beautiful tiger and wolf, yes, so… but nothing special or unusual, isn’t it ? Guys, I'm working for a cartoon for an audience of 17+, I have unique characters, an interesting intriguing plot, author's original music and so on. I put together a team of technical specialists so that we could bring my ideas to life. I am still very young and not experienced in terms of business, I don’t know how to promote my project and how to look for sponsors, but I know how to create cool things and put my heart into them. But I’m so afraid. Please support me with some words of support, it will help me to move on. And if anyone knows how to promote your project, where, how and to whom it is better to present the pilot, how to get a sponsor, I will be very grateful for the information. All successes in good Affairs!)

  3. Wow his work is beautiful! I'm learning from a Joe Weatherly book and course right now. I really want to improve at drawing animals.

  4. Sometimes I wonder if I should change my pencil grip from the standard to that paintbrush style that you see a lot of professional artists do. I worry it'd be like teaching myself draw all over again.

  5. I actually never considered doing the colors while your in the middle of laying down some detail with a pencil, I kinda want to try that and see how well it works for me.

  6. Proko your channel have so much knowledge that's what I love
    A classroom with real mature art knowledge, and for it I don't have to pay thousands of dollars
    Thank you for making this amazing channel

  7. I wish I could do art all day but Im always either working or sleeping. It's really difficult to try and improve because when I get home I'm so tired and dizzy I can't focus on it.

  8. I love David so much, he motivates me everytime he posts… I really hope someone got me his 2nd book for Christmas 😭

  9. Quote 1: Drawing is a lot more thinking than actual drawing.
    Quote 2: I guess the only lucky thing I had is that I found something I like doing.
    Quote 3: … but it was not an easy path at all.

    👍👍👍👍

  10. I like to use great reference materials , plus actually seeing the subject , in my mind. i shrink down and walk around the tree , bird or plant and draw what i see

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