Beatrix Potter Art Project 1
Beatrix Potter was best known for painting anthropomorphic (having human characteristics) animals in watercolour. Anthropomorphism can range from simply adding eyebrows to an animal drawing or having a cartoon animal speak, all the way to an animal walking on two legs wearing human clothes with human body proportions.
Beatrix Potter drew her animals as digitigrades (animals that walk on toes, or on their 'digits'), which means they kept their animal shape, rather than being plantigrade (in which the surface of the whole foot touches the ground) like a human. However, she was very clever in that she gave her characters very few human facial features. She relied on the animal's natural expressions to show their emotions, such as ear positions.
Practise drawing different animals and their shapes as they are in nature. This will help you know how they'll be put together when creating your Beatrix Potter character. Try some more unusual animals, maybe a primate or reptile. If you have pets, try using them as a reference!
Next, draw the animals on their hind legs, keeping the same proportions but making sure to shift their centre of gravity so they don't fall over!
Think about what style of clothing they would wear. Would a hyena wear traditional African clothing or would it be a modern punk? Would a fox wear hunting clothes or would it be an urban fox in a tracksuit? The clothing a character wears can completely change its personality.
Think also about personality: would a labrador be happy, friendly and energetic, or old, grumpy and greying around the muzzle?
Beatrix Potter Art Project 2
From project 1 you should have a few character ideas to choose from. Beatrix Potter worked primarily in watercolour and pencil or ink.
Start by sketching your character in a basic pose, maybe holding something, walking, doing a simple task or even interacting with one of Beatrix Potter's characters.
When using watercolour paint, you should always start with the lightest colour first and go gradually darker as it is easier to correct mistakes as you build up layers of colour.
If you make a small mistake, dab some clean water onto the area and lift it off with kitchen towel. If part of your watercolour is too dark, blot it with tissue paper to remove excess paint.
Keep building up the colours until you're happy with your character's design.
Add a very simple background, a few blades of grass and hints of the ground; keep it loose and light, so the focus is on the character.
Now go over the lines of your character with a fine black liner pen. Do some test lines on a spare piece of paper to find which pen works best and to see how closely you can recreate Beatrix Potter's style of linework. Although her linework could be seen as sketchy, it is still very definite and purposeful. Leave the background with just the pencil lines and loose watercolour.
You can add a hint of fur texture with coloured pencil to finish it off.
Frame and present your work!