Tim Smith, a.k.a. My Poor Brain, is a London based graphic designer and illustrator. Tim is known for his multidiscipline approach, having worked on everything from branding to tablet apps, isometric illustrations to physical installations in a range of aesthetics for an equally varied client base including Sony PlayStation, V&A, Nokia and Little Brown.

His work has been awarded by the likes of Webby, YCN, FWA and GD USA amongst others.

Character design is a craft that has been around for decades, even centuries, though in recent years has exploded into the design and illustration scene. Often in vinyl toys and animated movie or computer games, these characters are taking on a 3D form.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

3D software is great for creating dynamic, pose-able character models– but what if you just want to create an awesome character that appears to be 3D without actually moving into the 3D dimension? 2D rendering can side-step long 3D rendering waiting times and skip the need to learn complex software.

Here Tim Smith offers his experience with using Illustrator and Photoshop to create semi-realistic, 3D looking characters. 

Having worked through this tutorial, you will have understood the basic tricks to faking 3D, using traditional effects and techniques such as lighting, depth of field and texture – and learn a thing or two about creating great character designs along the way.

Software needed

Adobe Illustrator & Photoshop CS2 and above

Time to complete

12+ hours

Next Step »