DRAW CUTE CHIBI CHARACTERS FOR MERCHANDISE

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Hello! Today I'll show you how I draw chibi characters, specifically for (printed) merchandise. The style can be used anywhere of course, but for printed media, there are a few notable tips and tricks.

1. IDEAS

Chibi drawings are widely used to make physical goods, because they are cute, eye-catching, fast to make and easy to print on a variety of materials. So make them cute and stand out as much as you want.

Example: I want to draw a little girl.

Nice, but a bit plain. I should add a theme for her. Maybe a maid theme?

And animal ears and tail, aren't these animal features the cutest?

Her eyes sparkled too, but since we have to keep it simple (for printing), I symbolized it as a star.

I sketched the whole brainstorm part, but you don't need to. Just add the details onto your sketch later.

2. SKETCH

Messy drawing of your character. Just draw it as you often do.

Some noteworthy tips:

2.1. Pose

You should choose a pose which clearly shows the character's full body, UNLESS you have a clear idea of what you are doing. This is a simple but helpful tip, since some complex poses will make it hard to see the physical, printed merch of your character from afar.

Let's see an example:

In fig. A, even from afar, you know that it's a girl with a fluffy dress and animal ears/tail. You can't really tell what the drawing is from fig. B although it's still cute when looking closely. Fig. C however does not show the body, but it's a fun and popular idea: a character stuck in an imaginary wall, showing her face and her behind.

To make the character balanced and show his/her pose clearly, I often sketch a "key hole" first. The circle will be the head and the trapezoid is the upper body.

Chibi characters' heads are often big and if you're not careful, you can lose the balance between the head and the body (the head strays too far from the center). The "key hole" will help you avoid this mistake.

2.2. Hands, arms and legs

To add to the "clear pose" point above, you should draw both arms and legs. Avoid hiding an arm/a leg completely.

If you have drawn both arms, then you can hide the hand behind the character's back or in the pocket. The hand can be simplified if you want.

A cheat for drawing arms and legs: if you draw using the "key hole" method above, then the legs will be as long as the trapezoid, and the wrists (red circle) will touch the bottom of the trapezoid, regardless of its length. No worry about scale and ratio.

You can use the 3d models in CSP to aid with the pose. But for merch I think you don't quite need it since the poses are simple and heavily exaggerated.

https://assets.clip-studio.com/en-us/detail?id=1828610

I even use the default ribbon brush in CSP to aid with my sketch (blue line).

https://assets.clip-studio.com/en-us/detail?id=1716972

3. LINE

Use bold lines. Switch to a smaller brush if you need to draw small details.

I use the Real G-pen so the line is not very smooth. Depends on the type of good, you may want to use a smoother line such as the normal G-pen.

4. COLOR

Bright, fun color with little shading is easier to print and correct. Try to have large colored areas mixed with small details to catch the eyes.

I start with the base color. Each color should be in a separate layer. Fill tool with Refer to other layer is good for this.

Add simple shading with the brushes in the Thick paint sub tool or any brush you like. My favorite is Gouache and Oil paint flat brush. Lock the transparent pixels on each color layer then paint over it.

You can color the line if you want. Each part will stand out more.

I decorate the character with assets from CSP Asset. To make my character stand out more, I duplicate the drawing folder (Ctrl + C then Ctrl + V), then right-click > Merge selected layer. On the Layer Property tab, select Border effect and make a pink border.

Do it again with white.

Finished! Isn't she cute? I hope you can find something useful!

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