Character Design with Story

Course description

You can create the most beautiful character in the world, but if there is little thought behind it, it just won't be that interesting. That's what we're tackling in this class—the difference between making pretty pictures and ones that generate real attention. By putting thought in before we draw and using the power of questions, we'll go over how simple it is to see leagues of improvement in your characters.

What You'll learn

  • Why adding backstory to characters makes all the difference
  • The interesting observations about character design that came from having many of you draw pirates
  • How to make unique characters that are more fun to make and to look at
  • How great artists use story in their work
  • How to apply story to everything that isn't a character as well

I hope you learn lots, have a fun time and enjoy what I believe to be one of my best classes yet. See you in class!


After understanding the important place storytelling has in character design (and how to best do it) you'll be doing so by creating 2 versions of the same character. Refer to the project outline in the Resources section for character ideas and a more thorough breakdown of what is required.

Course outline

Lesson 1: why story

Why is it important for us to focus on story when creating characters? By looking at a brief drawing experiment, we can already see some clear reasons.

lesson 2: questions, questions, questions

Discover how to break the mold of generic looking characters by using the power of questions.

lesson 3: trying it out

Now that you understand the benefit that some well decided questions can have on characters, give it a go. Watch as each question you ask transforms your character into one that is more interesting and unique.

lesson 4: Killer concepts

In this lesson we will further develop our ability to come up with great character concepts by looking at three very different examples of story done well.

lesson 5: Not just characters

Discover how you can apply story to objects, scenes and graphics just as you would a character.

lesson 6: final thoughts

We close off the course by going over a few final ideas to keep in mind while working with characters and story.


About the teacher

Hayden Aube is a designer-turned-illustrator with an obsession for how we learn. Having made many big transitions in his life and career, Hayden now channels his time into helping other artists get where they want to be. This means tutorials, coaching and several community-based initiatives. To stay sharp, Hayden maintains a freelance illustration business, creates a variety of personal projects and is always enrolled in an online or in-person course himself.

I absolutely recommend it! This class teaches you how to deepen all the aspects of your art, even if it’s not a character. It makes all the difference!
— Filipe Lehmann
Really makes you think, which is good! No more brainless art for me.
— Alexia Rodriguez
Really, really worth watching. Never seriously thought about it, in such a structured way, but will definitely implement it in future.
— Mariya Popandopulo

This course and many more for just $9/month