Tag: Sketch Diary

Sketch Diary – The Gift Giver Part 3 – Painting

This week has been a haze of coffee and late nights powered by holiday cookies!  The last entry ended with the finished line art, which ended up being revised several times during the course of trying to color the piece.

Luckily, digital pieces are more forgiving than watercolor! I was able to lengthen the fingers of the right hand (on the left), which seemed stubby despite being correct on the model  Sometimes when we convert photo references to line art, something is lost in translation and that is where our creative mind must work with what ‘looks’ right rather than what the photo shows, else you could end up with some very awkward anatomy.  A camera distorts things at times due to perspective and spacing, as well. 

One must also be aware of the fact that the photo reference is not the end all be all!  We must be willing to depart from it to get the most visually pleasing look, otherwise the image could end up a bit stiff!  Some artists will even hide the reference after the basics of the pose are finished, which I find is a good strategy for breaking reliance on reference.

The photo reference compared to the final line art.

The next phase of coloring began with a simple color test laying in flat colors.  I wanted the spirit to be the brightest thing in the image, so everything else was dark and saturated by comparison.  By the end, she ended up with more of a greenish blue shadow to help get the idea across that the green of the background was reflecting in her skin, despite her glow.  The starker shadow also helps her to feel more solid and rounded, despite her ghostliness, and accentuates her glow.

From this…to this:


…to this!
You can also view an animated time lapse of the video here:
All in all, I feel I’ve definitely hit a milestone with this fully digital piece!  Learning the ins and outs of Adjustment Layers and Layer Masks has really helped to open new doors for me and make my life easier.  With masks, I can save my original image without having to start over, should colors not look right. The Cintiq has also made coloring digitally feel 200% more natural than my old Intuos.  I have a good feeling that things will only get better from here on out!

Sketch Diary – The Gift Giver Part 2 – Drafting

The last sketch diary for this image talked about conceptualizing the piece.  Now that the thinking part is done, it’s time for the doing!  At the start, I had decided to do this piece digitally due to time constraints, but also to give me a chance to break in the used Cintiq 12WX that I got as an early Christmas present!

The rumors are true!  Cintiqs really are made with unicorn horn dust and the solidified happy thoughts of artists!  My first impressions are highly favorable and I’m really excited at the natural line weight I’m able to achieve with this tablet, thus far.  I’ll be writing up a more in-depth review of the Cintiq in a later entry. 

Long story short, I’ve had a traditional Intous3 tablet for years, but could never get used to the unintuitive feel and disconnect between my hand and what I was seeing on the monitor.  The Cintiq has eased the process by letting me see exactly what I’m drawing and responding more delicately to my hand motions. Curves are especially easier to draw because I can see precisely what I’m doing and rotate the Cintiq as needed to draw the curve more easily.

Having given the Cintiq a test run on this image, I can say with confidence that I can finally get a more natural comfortable workflow with my line art, if this draft is any indication!
We’ve gone from this…to this
Somewhere between sketch and draft, her hair was cut back to allow for a more controlled directional flow in the composition.  She’s also lost her wings, since they would have interfered too much with the detail in the hair.  The grey spaces and Christmas trees are placeholders until I can work something more detailed in with color in the next phase.  
To achieve the abstract effect for the Christmas trees, I used a stock image, then in Photoshop I went to Image>Adjustments>Posterize.  That broke the tree image down into simplified forms which blend better with the line art.  I may end up actually photomanipulating a good deal of the background due to time constraints, but we’ll see what I can dish out!  I still have a few subtle  hatching details to add to the line art, but for the most part, she is finished!

Sketch Diary – The Gift Giver Part 1 – Concepts

It’s that time of year again!  Yes, that glorious time where I rush to finish my yearly Christmas card at the last minute!  Folks seemed to enjoy last year’s sketch diary for Lady Snowflake so I thought I’d document this year’s card in much the same fashion.

It all began with trying to figure out what I wanted to do this year!  Poinsettias?  Candles?  Holly leaves?  There are so many visual motifs to play with for the season!  I put up a poll on DeviantART asking what folks have enjoyed the best and art nouveau ladies won out!  It’s true, I admit my favorite Christmas card is still the 2nd one I ever did, entitled “Holiday Nouveau”.  I wanted to bring some of the warmth and style of this piece into the newest card.  Plus, I had never used big shiny packages and bows in a card before!   There’s nothing like beautifully wrapped presents to bring cheer and excitement to the season.

With art nouveau ladies and shiny packages in mind, thumbnailing began!
Out of all of these thumbnails, the top two resonated with me the most. They have the most interesting visual flow and dynamic posing.  The top right ended up being the winner for the fact it’s completely different than all of my previous cards, as well as the fact there is more interaction between the figure and the presents, giving it more of an active story in the piece rather than ‘dainty lady posing with packages’.


Mizzd-stock‘s beautiful holiday stock also lent a hand in inspiring me for this gal’s attire:
Such beautiful hair and costume! I’m sure to bring in some of
these motifs into the finished piece.


Next, I brought the thumbnail into Photoshop and sketched directly on top of it digitally.  It took a good deal of fiddling with window shapes before I arrived at this simple single rounded archway vignette.
The flow of the piece is doing what I want to it to right now, but the anatomy and awkward angle on the torso were completely baffling me!  So I took a few reference shots of my own to try and get a more solid grip on the anatomy.  I also set up a light on the floor to act as an unearthly glow in the faerie’s skin.
Sadly, I am neither thin nor faerie-like, so I’ll need to do some anatomy tweaking while I’m referencing this in my piece later.
And that’s it for the conceptualization phase!  Stay tuned! I’ll be blogging my progress throughout the week and hope to have this finished by next weekend. Wish me luck!
I’m gonna need it!