Very busy!

Been working on a pair of commissions all week, as well as critiquing stories for my critique group.

They were so different, they required completely different art processes. The cartoony one required inking, while the griffin got a color rough during concepting.

Halvden the griffin

Making of Facing Solaris

Here’s the beginning sketch. I moved the characters around a bit so their feet weren’t hanging off the bottom of the picture.
Here’s the inked version. Solaris has a really, really weird shape. I sat and stared at the official model to get this look. Good thing most of these lines will get scrubbed out.
Time to drop in a background! I went with purple, black and dark blue all in blotches, especially right around the characters, to make them stand out. Then I hit it with a Shatter brush (there’s also filters that do the same thing).
For Solaris, I flood-filled him light blue, then grabbed an airbrush. He’s swirled light gray, light purple, light blue, and light cyan. And scrubbed out as much of the disturbing detail as possible.
Alas, I don’t have any progress pics of the hedgehogs and Elise. For the glowy hedgehogs, I scrubbed white into the middle of them and yellow around the edges. Elise got black in the middle and blue highlights around the edges, since she’s not super.
And here’s Solaris’s majesty.
And the glowy fire-bird merged with Shadow (giving him the awesomest super form ever), and the glow around the hedgehogs. And it’s more or less finished.

Western Sonic step by step

I’ve wanted to draw a Western-themed Sonic pic for a while. Deciding what to include was the tricky part.

Yesterday I had a pic idea flash through my head. I grabbed my mouse and scribbled it out.

But that wasn’t quite it, so I did this one next.

I liked that better. Whoever draws Sonic with a horse, anyway? And why would he need one when he runs so fast? That’s the hilarity of a western-themed Sonic game.

I got out my tablet and refined it a bit.

And with a sigh I went in search of some reference for a horse’s head at that angle.

I also looked up dusters. This makes my third pic this year of someone wearing a leather duster. They’re just so awesome!

It was getting late and I wanted something presentable, so I slapped some color on it and called it good.

But there’s a few things wrong with it, like Sonic’s arm and the positioning of his spikes. I’m going to refine it a little tonight. Also I want some kind of a bloom effect around the edges, like they’re standing in bright, hot sunlight. I’ll have to experiment.

Another kitty

Today’s April Fool’s Day, and Deviantart is having a contest thingy to try to upload 15000 cat pictures. The prank being that cats have taken over DA. I chortled and started drawing a cat. Here’s the reference pic I worked from.

Here’s my sketch:

I blocked in some nice dark background colors and colored a cream color in the white areas that show.

This layer wound up being the browns and all the shading. Also the eye details. Cat eyes are pure bliss to paint. Can you say “eye candy”?

And last but not least, the markings.

Because this is obviously a magical kitty with swirly calico markings.

Dinos and dragons

Worked on it a bit more in a few scraps of spare time. I’m blocking in the main masses right now. Trying to grasp rocks, you see. I’m trying to compose them like big messy jumbled stairs. Also used a few references to make the human figure look better. I’ll post some closeups next time. Like, when there’s something to see close up. 🙂

Using a figure tutorial

I wanted to brush up on my figure sketching tonight. I did that rough little comic last night, and my figures were pretty bad. So I went sniffing around my favorite stock archive on DA, and lo and behold, she’s updated it. And what’s more, she had a nice tutorial on the basics of figure drawing. So I used it and drew some figures.

Also, I realized that I need to keep up on my Sonic sketching, because my cartooning skills have slowly been deteriorating the longer I don’t use them for awesome. And hey, you can use figure sketching for cartooning, too.


If I just do a few of these every night, my Sonic art will be back up to awesome in no time. Give or take a month or two.

Fox in snow, nearly done

Worked on this for a while tonight and got it mostly done, I think.

Here’s the black and white layer.

Here’s the color layer on the fox. It’s subtle.

Now her eyes look alive!

And then the liberal amount of blue airbrushing for the background.

I think the fox’s coat needs another layer of lighter hairs and some snow sprinkles. And I want some red holly berries. Think I could get away with some kind of red berries, because pine trees totally have those?

Making vector pics

Here’s how I went about making that vector dinosaur pic.

Vector art has to be very heavy on design, because that’s what it does very well: crisp, clear shapes. A lot of great interplay between positive and negative space. I had a rough idea of what I wanted to draw, so I sketched some thumbnails to figure out the design.

The one on the far right was the one I liked best, so I made a bigger, more detailed sketch.

Once I was happy with it, I dumped it into Illustrator and traced over it. Also, I looked at a lot of pictures of Australian Red Tingle Trees. They’re amazing and look like something that would need grazing dinosaurs to keep them in check.

Anyway, this was the rough stage I showed in my last post:

It was okay, but eh, it had some problems.

Here’s what it eventually became:

Here’s what it looks like with all the objects selected:

It has a lot of junk going on it. But vector graphics are nice like that. You can grab them, stretch them, flip them, and drag them wherever you want. It’s almost like making a scrapbook page, or a collage. Except your little paper shapes can be any size, shape and color you want, and you don’t have to mess with scissors. Heck, you don’t even need a stylus. Just a mouse.

Here’s a few individual elements selected.

That’s one leaf element. I just copied it, flipped it, rotated it, etc. about four times to really fill out the foreground foliage.

Here’s the black border taken off. You can see what it was hiding. Scrappy edges!

That’s one of my “cheaty” background shapes. You can’t really see much of it, but it plugs the holes between the trees nicely and gives the impression of dense forest. I have a lot of cheaty background shapes in this pic. You’re not supposed to be looking at the background in that spot, anyway. You’re supposed to be looking at the dinosaurs.

Moral of the story: making vector art isn’t like painting, but it’s still very right-brain creative. It’s just more like making a collage with paper cutouts.

You can get freakishly detailed, too. You just start with the silhouette of whatever you’re drawing, then put small shapes on top for features and details. I think I’m going to do some of that for my next one.

Misty raptor, step by step

I sat down to do a little doodle, and doodled a raptor. I seem to default to them when I’m tired.

I wondered what to do with it, then thought of James Gurney’s latest post on his blog about How to get a feeling of misty light. I’ve been reading that the best way to learn from someone is to copy their work, which is why artists a hundred years ago used to copy the old masters until they learned their technique. Then they went on and applied that to their own works. (They never claimed the copy was their own, though! That’s where the internet gets messy.)

Anyway, I decided to copy the light in Gurney’s pic and follow his directions as closely as I could. The best way to learn is by doing, after all. Take a look at it.

Isn’t that so very pretty? I want the book this is in, Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara.

Anyway, I laid in a similar background on my pic, first with a pinkish flood fill, then laying in colors with the oil paints > wet brush (my favorite!). (I’m working in Corel Painter, by the way, but you can do this in Photoshop or some other painting program, or with real paint, whichever you’re more comfortable with.)

Then I made my raptor into a silhouette.

Looking carefully at Gurney’s, you can see that the brightest parts of the silhouettes (the orange bits) actually have bright yellow highlights on them that make them look solid. Gosh, his art just makes me want to cry, it’s so beautiful.

He says that this effect, with the orange silhouette close to the light source, is easy to do digitally, but in real media, it takes some careful planning. Let me tell you, it took quite a bit of fiddling in digital to get it right! I painted over and painted over until I was satisfied.

Then I threw in some mid-tone trees to indicate some kind of background, and turned off my sketch layer.

Experiment done for now. I’d like to go back and try this sort of thing on a serious illustration of some kind and really put some time into it.

Airbrush space, part 2

Welcome back to my attempt to airbrush space instead of auto-generating it!

I went back and took a look at my gas clouds, and decided that they were too busy. I’ve also been staring at space art, and it finally dawned on me that the black areas are just as important as the lit areas.

So I erased big black chunks, and went over those with the Chunky Oil Pastel to make them even blacker. Then I added in a few bright stars. Bright stars are always kept to a minimum in really good space art. They overwhelm a sky really quickly.

Whole sky:

I decided that putting a yellow glow over blue moons was a bad idea, so I just went with a nice blue glow instead. I think the whole sky is still a little too bright, but I’m much happier with it than I was before.

Previous post in this series: Airbrush Space part 1