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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Isometric
Design

How to Create a Minecraft Character in Affinity Designer

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:MediumLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In today’s tutorial, we’re going to embark on a creative journey into the land of Minecraft and learn how to create a cute little character using Affinity Designer’s handy Isometric Grid.

So assuming you’re a fan of the game, quickly get a coffee refill and let’s jump straight into it!

Also, don’t forget you can always expand the project by heading over to GraphicRiver where you’ll find a great selection of vector pixel art.

1. How to Set Up a New Project File

Assuming you already have Affinity up and running, let’s set up a New Document by going to File > New (or by using the Control-N keyboard shortcut) which we will adjust as follows:

  • Type: Web
  • Document Units: Pixels
  • Create artboard: checked
  • Page Width: 800 px
  • Page Height: 600 px
  • DPI: 72
setting up a new document

2. How to Set Up an Isometric Grid

As soon as we’ve created our document, we’ll want to set up a custom isometric grid, which will provide visual guidance when it comes to drawing the shapes of our character.

Step 1

To do this, simply go to View > Grids and Axis Manager, where we will first enable the Show grid option, and then uncheck the Use automatic grid one so that we can set up a custom one as follows:

  • Grid type: Isometric
  • Spacing: 16 px
  • Divisions: 4 px
setting up a custom grid

Step 2

Once the grid is all set up, we need to make sure that our shapes are actually snapping to it, so go to View > Snapping Manager (or use the little Magnet icon) where we will make sure it's enabled, and then uncheck all the options except the Snap to grid one.

Normally, we would have the Force pixel alignment option enabled, but due to the angles of the grid’s lines, our shapes will end up having comma-delimited values, which as you know can’t snap to the Pixel Grid.

adjusting the snapping options

Step 3

As you can see, the resulting grid is made out of multiple 16 px tall rhombi, which have 4 subdivisions along each of their sides (16 in total), which become clearly visible once you zoom in on them. We are going to rely on them in the process of defining the size of each and every shape, using the outer edges of the rhombus as a Width measuring unit, and its inner vertical height as a Height measuring one.

To keep things simple, I’m going to use some simple annotation where R= one edge/height of the larger rhombus, and a small r= one edge/height of the smaller division.

measuring units example

3. How to Create the Character’s Lower Body

As soon as we’ve created our custom isometric grid, we can start working on the actual character, and we will do so by creating a blank version of its entire body one section at a time.

Step 1

Using the Pen Tool (P), draw the front section of the legs using a 6 x 4 R shape, which we will color using #596C7B and then position as seen in the reference image.

creating and positioning the front section of the legs

Step 2

Add the side section of the legs using a 2 x 6 R shape, which we will color using #384C57 and then position onto the right side of the previous one.

creating the side section of the legs

4. How to Create the Character’s Upper Body

Now that we have the main shapes of the legs, we can move up and start working on the upper body, which we will create one shape at a time.

Step 1

Start by creating the torso using a copy (Control-C > Control-V) of the legs’ front section, which we will position above, making sure to change its color to #E47145.

creating the front section of the torso

Step 2

With the torso in place, we can now start working on the character’s arms and shoulders.

Create the main shape for the left arm using a 2 x 6 R rectangle, which we will color using #96693B and then position next to the torso as seen in the reference image.

creating the front section of the left arm

Step 3

Add the front section of the right hand using a copy (Control-C > Control-V) of the one that we’ve just finished working on, which we will position on the opposite side of the torso.

creating the front section of the right arm

Step 4

Create the side section using a copy (Control-C > Control-V) of the shape that we’ve just created, which we will horizontally reflect (right click > Transform > Flip Horizontal), and then position on its right side.

creating the side section of the right arm

Step 5

Add the shoulders and upper section of the torso using a single shape, which we will color using #E58047 and then position as seen in the reference image. Once you’re done, make sure you select and group (Control-G) all of the upper body’s composing shapes together before moving on to the next section.

creating the shoulders and upper section of the torso

5. How to Create the Character’s Head

Since at this point we pretty much have all the sections of the character’s body, we can move up and focus on creating the main shapes for its head.

Step 1

Start by drawing the front section using a 4 x 4 R shape, which we will color using #96693B and then position on the body as seen in the reference image.

creating the front section of the head

Step 2

Add the side section using a copy (Control-C > Control-V) of the shape that we’ve just created, which we will color using #3E2815 and then position on the right side, making sure to horizontally reflect it (right click > Transform > Flip Horizontal).

creating the side section of the head

Step 3

Finish off the head by drawing a 4 x 4 R shape which we will color using #6D4A2D and then position on top of the two rectangles, as seen in the reference image. Once you’re done, select and group all three shapes together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

creating the upper section of the head

Quick tip: at this point, it would be a good idea to start organizing our project by opening up the Layers panel and naming the different sections that we’ve grouped, so that we can more easily target and navigate the body parts of our character.

example of grouping and structuring the project

6. Adding Details to the Character’s Head

Now that we have the blank version of our character, we can begin adding details to it, and we will do so from the head down.

Step 1

Draw the mouth using a 4 x 2 r shape, which we will color using #BD9169 and then position towards the lower edge of the head’s front section, as seen in the reference image.

creating the mouth

Step 2

Create the left eye using two 2 x 4 r shapes (one colored using #FFFFFF and one using #3E2815), which we will group (Control-G) and then position on the upper-left section of the mouth, at a distance of just 1 r from its top edge.

creating the left eye

Step 3

Add the right eye using a copy of the one that we’ve just grouped, which we will position on the opposite side of the mouth, making sure to flip their colors.

creating the right eye

Step 4

With both eyes in place, we can quickly draw the hair segment (#4C341E) using the reference image as our main guide. Take your time, and once you’re done, move on to the next step.

adding the front hair segment to the head

Step 5

Finish detailing the current section by adding the little golden earring using a 1 x 2 r shape, which we will color using #E19B4F and then position on the side section of the head, aligning it to the lower eye line. Once you’re done, select and group all of the head’s details together (Control-G) before moving on to the next section.

adding the side earring

7. Adding Details to the Character’s Upper Body

Now that we’ve finished working on the head, we can shift our focus over to the character’s body, where we will gradually start adding details to it.

Step 1

Create the front section of the left sleeve using a copy (Control-C > Control-V) of the arm’s main shape, which we will then adjust by first changing its color to #E47145 and then cutting its height in half.

creating the front section of the left sleeve

Step 2

Add the front section of the right sleeve using a copy (Control-C > Control-V) of the one that we’ve just finished working on, which we will position on the opposite side of the torso.

creating the front section of the right sleeve

Step 3

Draw the lower section of the sleeve using the reference image as your main guide, making sure to select and group (Control-G) the two shapes together once you’re done.

adding the lower detail to the left sleeve

Step 4

Create the lower section of the right sleeve using the same process used for the left one, making sure to select and group the resulting shape and the front section together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

adding the lower detail to the right sleeve

Step 5

Create the right sleeve’s side section using a copy (Control-C > Control-V) of the arm, which we will adjust by first setting its color to #C0512A and then shortening its height from 6 R to 4 R.

adding the side section to the right sleeve

Step 6

Add the neck cutout using the reference image as your main guide, making sure to color the resulting shape using #96693B.

adding the neck cutout to the shirt

Step 7

Separate the front section of the head from the neck using an 8 x 2 r block, which we will color using #784A27 and position onto the cutout.

adding the shadow to the neck cutout

Step 8

With the Fill color set to #4C341E, draw the front hair segments using the reference image as your main guide. Take your time, and once you’re done, move on to the next step.

adding the front hair segments to the shirt

Step 9

Add the shoulder hair segments using #4C341E for the front section and #3E2815 for the top one, making sure to select and group the two together afterwards using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

adding the side hair segment to the right shoulder

Step 10

Draw the belt using a 16 x 2 r shape, which we color using #343E4C and then position at a distance of 2 r from the bottom edge of the shirt’s front section.

adding the belt to the front of the shirt

Step 11

Add the shirt’s bottom front details using a copy (Control-C > Control-V) of the ones that we’ve just created for the sleeves, which we will position as seen in the reference image.

adding the bottom details to the front of the shirt

Step 12

Finish the detailing process of the current part of the illustration by adding the side section of the shirt’s bottom, which we will color using #C0512A. Once you’re done, create individual groups (Control-G) of the different sections, positioning them within the main shapes with the help of the Layers panel.

adding the side section of the shirt

8. Adding Details to the Character’s Lower Body

Now that we’ve finished adding the different details to the upper body, we can shift our focus towards the legs and gradually add details to those as well.

Step 1

Start by creating the side section of the boot, using a copy (Control-C > Control-V) of the underlying leg, which we will adjust by first setting its color to #152028 and then shortening its Height to just 14 r.

adding the side section of the right boot

Step 2

With the color set to #343E4C, draw the main shape for the front section of the right foot’s boot using the reference image as your main guide.

adding the front section of the right boot

Step 3

Finish detailing the legs, and with them the illustration itself, by adding the left boot using a copy (Control-C > Control-V) of the one that we’ve just finished working on, which we will position on the left side of the legs. Once you’re done, select and group all of the details together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut, before hitting that save button.

finishing off the illustration

9. A Little Touching Up

At this point, you may have noticed that some of our character’s neighboring shapes ended up having little white gaps between them, which has to do with the way the software handles aliasing, which is a problem that the people at Serif are aware of.

finished project preview with space gaps

The official method of fixing this annoying issue is to add duplicates of the shapes where this happens, which I’ve tested out and seems to work. It’s not a perfect method, but it’s all we have until we get a software update.

example of fixing the resulting space gaps

Great Job!

There you have it, fellow Minecraft lovers, a cute little character created using Affinity’s powerful isometric grid.

As always, I hope you’ve managed to follow each and every step and most importantly learned something new and useful along the way.

That being said, if you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments section and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!

finished project preview
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