Creating Simple Characters

Self-Study Class Includes Lifetime Access, Online Community & More!

6 Lessons – $72.25 $85

Dutch artist and illustrator Nelleke Verhoeff takes us on a fun adventure turning pencil and collage into believable little individuals, with emotions and personalities!

Now available as a self-study class.

TEACHER: Nelleke Verhoeff

Class Description


Creating Simple Characters
with Nelleke Verhoeff

How is it that the simplest line, squiggle or dot can convey so much emotion in some of the fictional characters that we love, such as Snoopy, Bart Simpson, Madeline or Curious George?

An almost magical thing happens when a character really starts to work and comes to life. Nelleke will be sharing a whole bunch of her ideas using a variety of media to help make this happen.

Whether you’re interested in creating narrative artwork or not, this class is a risk-free way to explore and experiment with figurative drawing.

Too much fun to resist! Plus, you’ll get to see all kinds of characters from fellow students around the world!



Class Itinerary

Lesson 1 – Faces
Let’s begin with the human face! We will start with three idea-generating pages of sketches using techniques in pencil, charcoal, and oil pastel. We will work on shape of the head, placement of the features, expressions and adding unique attributes to make your character come alive. 

Lesson 2 – Bodies
Next we’re going to add bodies by cutting shapes, playing with contrasts, and building collages. Create new faces or use some from Lesson 1. Each of these three approaches will result in several of full-bodied characters.

Lesson 3 – Animals
Let’s create animal characters! We’ll start by looking at and isolating shapes from animal reference photos, and from there you will build a character that you will then interpret two more times in different media; oil transfer pastel transfer technique and collage. Optional assignment: Photo heads and collage bodies! Big day.

Lesson 4 – Things
Things — toasters, automobiles, hairbrushes, shoes, even toothbrushes — can also be story characters. We’re going to sketch our things, add features, and interpret those sketches into collages. We’ll even make some characters from random cut-out shapes — also “things!”

Lesson 5 – Letters
In this lesson we’re going to play with letters of the alphabet. We’ll start by sketching out our ideas and then work on creating words or sentences with these characters. In addition, we’ll play with character collages using typography from newspapers and magazines.

Lesson 6 – Accordian Book
Now you have dozens of characters — and the ideas to make even more! Today we will create an accordion book to house some of your characters.

I hope you can join us!


Nelleke Verhoeff is an artist/illustrator based in Rotterdam in the Netherlands. She started her professional career as a theater performer and made physical and visual theater using circus techniques and masks.
 Nelleke then discovered her love for drawing, painting and digital art. She is mostly inspired by people and animals and loves to watch their attitudes and facial expressions develop as she works. She has illustrated several books. Both for adults and children: In 2018 she made her first own children’s picturebook: ‘Boss of something big.’

Nelleke is the owner of the Red Cheeks Factory where she sells prints, postcards and paperdolls of her work. ‘Red Cheeks’ stand for enthusiasm! She has often red cheeks while working and so do her characters.

Her work was selected for the Ilustrarte 2016 exhibition in Lissabon in Portugal. In 2017 she won the Worldwide Picturebook Illustration Competition ‘Picture This’ and she was one of the finalists in the Silent Book Contest 2018 with her book ‘Concerto,’ which was included in an exhibition at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair.

See more of Nelleke’s work at

Here are the basic supplies you will need for this class! Feel free to substitute materials that you already have on hand.


• copy paper
• small pieces of watercolor paper (5″x7″ or 12x17cm)
construction paper

• sketchbook paper

• painted paper

• a larger piece of watercolor paper for accordian book
• two pieces of cardboard

drawing and painting:
• pencil
color pencils
• charcoal
• eraser

• conté pencil
• markers
• oil pastels
• Zest-it
 (or similar)
• brush
• acrylic markers

collage materials:
• glue stick

• scissors

• matte medium

• collage eyes

• animal reference material

Nuts & Bolts

This class is is now available as a self-study class! You will have instant access to all of the lessons.

A private Facebook group is available for you to (optionally) share your artwork and enjoy and learn from the artwork of others.

You will have indefinite access to this class.

“Your enthusiasm is contagious and your delight in whimsy in characters is infectious! ” — Susie S.
“What a rollicking ride it has been! My cheeks have been red with excitement and joy!” — Susan B.
“I really enjoyed your use of children book illustrators as examples of "creating simple characters". Once again, A big thank you with red cheeks!” — Christine P.