Step by step – creating an Alice in Wonderland illustration

General / 04 March 2018

We all love to watch beautiful illustrations and be inspired by them. A fantastic place to watch incredible illustration is the Facebook group: the Character Design Challenge! This is a character design contest with a new theme every month. This time the theme was Alice in Wonderland. I joined the contest and in this article I will show you how I created my illustration step by step. 

Tools I use

This Illustration was created on my Ipad Pro with an Apple Pencil. I love working om my Ipad because I can work where ever I want. On the couch in front of the TV, In a cafe or in the train. Working with the Apple Pencil is very accurate and it really feels like working on paper but with an undo option. 

The best App to use, is without a question Procreate. It is a very intuitive program that is easy to use but has a lot of great options. One cool option you can do in Procreate is export a time lapse video of your work. Procreate will record all the brushstrokes you make and create this into a video. 

Time Lapse

Thumbnail sketches

A good way to start illustrating is by making very quick thumbnail sketches of what you want to make. Keep them extremely rough and try a lot of different poses.

Rough sketch

I picked this pose, and as you can see, I already made a rough sketch of the background composition. 

Polishing the line-art

The next step is to create the line-art. I usually go over my line sketch a couple of times. Each time trying to improve the character. In the image below you can see my first attempt on the left, and on the right my final line sketch. 

Mirror trick

While drawing try to mirror your image every now and then. If you mirror your image, you will see mistakes you couldn’t seen before. Our mind can play tricks on us and we can be blind for our own mistakes. But by mirroring, or turning it upside down, we can trick our mind to see the image in a new perspective. 

There is a book that explains this concept called ‘Drawing with the right side of your Brain.’ It is a great book to read when you are learning to draw. It is really fun to see the before and after drawings of the students who used the techniques in this book. This shows that any one who practices can improve their drawing skills!


If you are making a composition, eyedirection is very important. We want our audience to look where we want them to look. In this illustration I want the audience to look at Alice of course. I created the lines in the background in a way that your eyes are naturally directed at Alice. 


Values are the balance between light and dark in your illustration. You want to make sure that there is enough contrast in your illustration so that you can read the illustration, even when you squint. A lighter object on top of a darker object will pop and will be easier for the audience to read. 

But to see values when you are working with colors can be difficult. It takes time to train your eyes to see this. That is why it is best to design your values in black and white before moving on to colors. 


Now I try to pick the diffuse colors for my illustration. With diffuse colors I mean the base colors of the objects without any shadows or light. As you can see I painted color variation in the face. I made her nose and cheeks a bit more red. 

Combine the values and the colors

Combine the color layer and the values by putting the values layer on multiply. This will make the colors darker where the values are darker. The problem with this is that your colors will look a bit dirty. To fix this I made my value layer to be blue/white instead of black/white. This will make the shadows a bit more blue. After this I kept tweaking my colors. until I was happy

Warm and Cold

To finish the colors I created a new layer on top and put this in add modes. With a red/orange color I painted the light coming from below Alice. I used a red color to make the light feel warm. This works nice with the cold blue shadows. The shadows and light are always opposites in color temperature. If you use a cold light color than the shadows should have a warmer color.

And finally I placed highlights to accent the shapes. 

Show me your illustrations!

I would love to see the illustrations you make. You can join my closed Facebook group and share your work with me and the other artists. You can share your work in progress and ask for feedback. 


Are you working on a project and are you struggling or stuck and need a fresh pair of eyes to see what isn’t working? Then I can help you! You can request personal feedback by me. I will take half an hour to look at your work, make draw overs and give you tips and tricks to improve your work. You can either request a recorded video or a personal Skype call. I am certain that I can help you to improve your art!

Feedback Video

Available in English or Dutch
€ 75
  • 15 to 30 minute long feedback video
  • Tips and tricks to improve your work
  • The feedback video is for your eyes only
Request feedback now!
You will receive an email with instructions after your payment

Personal Skype Call

Available in English or Dutch
€ 150
  • Get one on one personal feedback
  • Ask any questions you have directly
  • watch back the video after the skypecall
Request a skype call now!
You will receive an email with instructions after your payment


Because you have read my entire blog post I want to give you a special coupon with 20 percent discount on a personal feedback video or skype call!

Just type: “Alice” in the coupon box when you check-out. But hurry because this coupon will expire in:


Click on the button below for more information, examples and testimonials.  I would love to help you improve your art. And I am certain that I can help you to become a better artist. If you are not satisfied with your feedback I will guarantee that you will get 100% of your money back.

The post Step by step – creating an Alice in Wonderland illustration appeared first on Character Creation Guide.

Pikin – Great guide for beginners

General / 21 February 2018

This week I finally launched the new Character Creation Guide website. I have been working on this website for a while now. After working on three feature films last year I finally found some time to focus on my tutorial website. I am working on the first tutorials that I will launch on this website. In these tutorials I will create my little Chick character Pikin. This tutorial bundle is the perfect guide for beginners. 


For this tutorial I will model the Pikin character using Maya and the build in modeling tool set. This tool set is very powerful and easy to learn. I will show you all the tools and how you can use them to model your 3D character. 


In the rigging part of this tutorial I will show you how to create a simple yet effective cartoony rig. Don’t worry if you are not very technical. I will guide you step by step and I’ll try to use as little scripts as possible. I am a dyslectic artist and for me rigging was always a bit scary. But I am so happy that I learned how to create rigs for my characters. It is so much fun to be able to pose and animate your 3D models. 


I have a really cool idea for an animation with the Pikin character. It will be a combination between 2D and 3D animation using the software TV Paint and Maya. I will show you both techniques and I’ll show you how I will combine the two in the end. I will start this tutorial with creating thumbnails and story boarding my shot. And then I will take you trough the process of animating the character using TV Paint and Maya.


In these tutorials I will show you how I create a 3D animation character. I will model him in 3D, create uv maps and textures, I will build a rig and animate him. 

Autodesk Maya

The main software I use is Autodesk Maya. It is a very difficult and expensive program but it is the industry standard. Almost all the studio’s I have worked for work with Maya. That is why it is good to learn using Maya if you want to work in studios as a character artist. 

But don't worry, I will guide you step by step and show you all the hotkeys and shortcuts to make it easier for you.

If you are a student you can download a student version of Maya. This is a full version but you will get a water mark in your screen. But it is a perfect way to learn maya without having to pay a lot of money 

If you are not a student that you can also try Maya lite. This is a simpler version of Maya that is mostly used by game developers. There are some features missing but you can model and animate. This version is a lot cheaper. I will make a comparison with this version and the full version soon, and I will update you on my findings. 

Visit the Autodesk website here:

3D Coat

For the Uv mapping part of the tutorial I will show you two ways of working. I will show you how to unwrap your 3D model using Maya and 3D Coat. I will show you the way to do it in Maya in case you don’t have 3D Coat or cant afford it. But I do want to show you how to do it in 3D Coat because it is such a easy and quick way. I learned this technique recently myself but it already saved me so much time.

Visit the 3D Coat website here:

TV Paint

This is the best 2D traditional painting software that is out there at the moment. I worked with TV paint on the production of Trippel Trappel and I use it for all my 2D animations. Again, TV paint isn’t cheap. There are a lot of other 2D programs you could use instead of TV Paint. the principles are the same. But if you have the money and if you want to make 2D animations than I really recommend TV Paint.

Visit the TVPaint website here:

Great Guide for beginners!

So if you wish to learn how to create and animate 3D character. Then this is the perfect guide for you! I will guide you step by step with easy to follow tutorials. You can join a closed Facebook group where I will help you if you have difficulty’s. 

Pre-order this tutorial bundle now with a Early Bird Discount. The regular price is 38 Euros but if you pre-order this tutorial you can get it for only 20 Euro. The bundle will be released at the end of march. 

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Sweet Characters

General / 20 June 2017

For my day job, I have to work with characters on a daily basis. But I almost always work digitally. I model and animate digital 3D characters. But sometimes it is fun to work analog and model characters for real. It is so much fun to be able to touch your work, look around it, and even eat it.

Yes eating your creations, it is possible if you make your characters with the Modeling Paste by the Cake Dutchess. My sister-in-law Etty van Urk, aka the Cake Dutchess, is a master in modeling characters for cake decorations. She can make the most wonderful characters and she makes video’s showing you how you can make these characters yourself.

Cake Dutchess – Modeling Challenges

I have had the pleasure to have collaborated on two modeling challenges Etty organized. In these modeling challenges, Etty creates characters that you can follow along with her. I made the character designs for these challenges. For the first challenge I designed a baby angle and for the second challenge, I designed a boy and a girl character with different outfits. The artists that participate in the challenge have to model these characters with modeling paste.

My own attempt

The first challenge, with the baby angel, I joined the other artist in modeling him. I loved working with the Cake Dutchess Modeling Paste. The paste itself is white and I had to mix it with food coloring to achieve the correct colors. It is really easy to work with, it doesn’t stick (as much) on your hands like fondant or marzipan. It is very elastic and doesn’t tear quickly. Therefore it is a fantastic product to work with. Here are some pictures of my progress. Not bad for my first attempt with modeling paste right?

For the second challenge, I created this boy and girl character, in summer and winter outfits, and dressed up as a princess and knight. Etty started the challenge by modeling the girl in summer clothing that the participants could follow her process watching her modeling life on Facebook. This is the end result and underneath is a progress photo of some of the other participant’s work in progress.

The previouse challengese where a great success, so Etty will most likely give a lot more fun challenges. I have heard that he next challenge will be in September and the theme will be mermaids. I will design a mermaid, especially for this challenge again. So if you want to join that challenge, follow the Cake Dutches on Facebook for updates on that challenge. Of course, I will post an update on my blog as well as soon as I know more. So stay tuned!

I loved working with the Cake Dutchess Modeling paste and perhaps in the future, I can make a tutorial for this as well. Although I think it’s best if you check out the tutorials made by Etty. Her video’s are amazing, fun and easy to follow! Here is a link to her Youtube Page

For tutorials on creating digital characters you can check out the Lessons and tutorials page on this website.

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Challenge yourself

General / 20 June 2017

Do you have trouble finding inspiration or coming up with new ideas? Me too! In May this year I joined the MerMay challenge, and in this article I will show you how this helped me to get inspired.

Every artist can get stuck or has a bad day without inspiration. It happens to the best of us. But don’t let it stop you! keep at it!

One way to break out of this is by challenging yourself. You can give yourself a theme and make artwork within this theme. Thinking of themes can also be challenging of course. That is why it is a good thing that you can find challenges online. There are a lot of websites and Facebook groups where you can find daily or monthly challenges.

A great example is the Character Design Challenge Facebook page. This Facebook group gives a new theme every month. Challenges like this are great because you can find a lot of fantastic artwork by other artists on the same theme, and this can work very inspiring.

So don’t just sit around waiting for inspiration and get off your lazy but and start making Characters!

MerMay challenge 2017

In May I participated in the #Mermay2017 challenge. You had to draw Mermaids every day for the month of May. This Challenge was organized by Tom Bancroft, an ex-Disney animator. I didn’t have time to make a mermaid illustration every day but I did want to challenge myself. So I decided to take three days per Mermaid. I first posted the sketch, then the full-color illustration and the day after I posted a little time-lapse video of my illustration.

My first couple of mermaids were not so original so I tried to push myself by asking my followers for topics withing the MerMay challenge. I got some great topic requests that helped me to come up with interesting mermaid designs. For example, someone requested a jellyfish mermaid. I looked online for reference images to inspire me to design a jellyfish mermaid.

Jellyfish Mermaid

Leavy Seadragon Mermaid

Try to think of ways of how you can challenge yourself. You can look for challenges online, use events or holidays to inspire you or think of story’s or topics that you would like to make multiple characters for. Think about topics within these topics to make your art more original. I am very happy with the final result of my MerMay illustrations and I want to keep doing this.

Ask for Feedback

If you are still stuck after challenging yourself it can help to have someone take a look at your work. Everyone has a blind spot for their own work and a fresh pair of eyes can really help. It can give us new inspirations and new ideas. So ask the people around you for their opinion, preferably someone unbiased (so not your parents)

You can also request a Personal Feedback video here, on the character creation guide. Maybe I can help you out by giving you some pointers or make draw overs for you. I would love to help you get new inspiration!

I really enjoyed the MerMay challenge. I love mermaids so I was able to keep up this challenge. And asking for help from my Instagram followers was great to get new ideas and inspiration. That’s why I am going to continue doing this. I’m making a list of topics requested by my Instagram followers. This way I will always have a topic to make an illustration or character design with. So If you want to request a new topic for me to make an illustration with, let me know on Instagram!

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