How to Create
Outline Characters

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In this tutorial, I will show you how to create outline characters. But what exactly do I mean by "outline characters"? It simply means that I will show you how to draw a character using only lines. No colors or plain areas will be used. 

Some of the examples below are so simple and details-free that they almost look like icons. Let's try to draw a lobster using various outline effects!

Examples #1

create outline

The first one is the classic illustration of a black and white character drawn with a solid outline. All the details from the original drawing (in color) are kept.

Examples #2

create outline

This second example looks more like a hidden object quiz! Some parts of the character are missing. But fortunately, it is still quite easy to guess which animal it is!

Examples #3

create outline

For this third example, I voluntarily erased a couple of lines randomly. The result is not convincing at all. It is still possible to recognize the lobster. But the illustration is not enjoyable to watch. In fact, it is even hard to read. 

The bottom line is don't erase lines randomly hoping to create a nice character. You need to study carefully your subject before creating an outline that is intentionally incomplete.

Examples #4

create outline

This drawing is already better. But in my opinion, it's not quite perfect. The reason is simple! The thin part of the outline is generally located in the bottom of the shape. 

That would suggest that the light is coming from the ground (assuming that a thick line is one located on the opposite side of the light source). 

Examples #5

create outline

But in this drawing, everything works fine. Even if some lines are incomplete, the illustration is easy to read and to recognize. I have carefully selected the lines to remove.

Examples #6

create outline

Finally, in this example, I have removed more lines, but the drawing is still easy to recognize. This illustration can easily be called an icon now! If you wish, you can go on and remove more lines to see what happens.

This is a great exercise to find the most important physical uniqueness of the character you are drawing. To make sure your readers will identify it easily, you need to keep those important parts visible. I hope you had fun learning how to create outline characters! Good luck and have fun!

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