I finally remembered to save shots of a piece along the way so I can show you guys a step-by-step!
First just let me emphasize that this has nothing to do with “how to draw” or “how you should make a picture.” Blindly following someone else’s process isn’t gonna help you learn a damn thing. My hope is that people might benefit from this by THINKING about my decisions and analyzing how you may or may not be able to incorporate this information into your own approach. Picture-making is an active problem-solving process. This serves as a good example of how I generally work, but I don’t make every picture the same way! I can’t, because every picture is different. If you only learn how to follow a set of steps or rules, and not how to think and problem-solve, you are going to hit a brick wall as soon as you have to create anything remotely outside of a very limited comfort zone.
Okay, now the steps I went through with this picture:
- Recently I’ve shaken up my usual way of working by starting out with silhouettes rather than sketching with line right away. Strong, clear silhouettes are important, and it helps to focus on the basic shapes of the pose rather than getting lost in markmaking and detail.
- I started over with a different pose because I wanted something more dynamic, based on this ref. Holding hands may be cute and all, but maybe not so practical when in battle. Besides, what’s cuter than two people with the dokis going into battle together knowing they’ve got each other’s backs?? IT IS THE CUTEST DON’T ARGUE ME ON THIS
- Lowered the opacity of the silhouettes, made a new layer on top, went to town. Drawing on top of silhouettes gives me enough information to go straight into clean linework, without the stiffness you get when you do clean lines on top of a sketch. Don’t trace the silhouette, it’s just a general guide. BE FREE.
- Got rid of the silhouette layer and made a new layer for color underneath the lines. Used the magic wand to select all the negative space. Expanded the selection by a few pixels, inverted the selection, then filled with an obnoxious color so I could see what I was doing. You may have to clean up some areas where the fill doesn’t match up with the lines (that’s where the bright color helps).
- The “coloring book” stage. Locked the transparency and blocked in the local colors (i.e. don’t worry about lighting yet).
- Added some hue variation. Again, we’re not worrying about lighting yet, so this isn’t about values. Getting some color variation in skin is really important, especially in faces (see here). I also created a clipping mask above the lineart to add color to the lines.
- NOW is when I start working with lighting/values. I like to work dark-to light, so I start out by putting a blueish shadow over the characters with a Multiply layer (on a clipping mask above the flat color layer, like all my lighting layers will be). Then I add in the first light source on a Hard Light layer (test out others like overlay, screen, etc. because different layer modes work better than others depending on the particular image you’re working with).
- So far my Multiply layer and my primary light source are both cool-hued, so I’m gonna add some variety with a warm secondary light source. I also added some very low-opacity white to fade some parts of the figures into the background more gradually (particularly the sword and the bottom of the shield).
- The last step is to add a subtle texture overlay, which in addition to providing a bit of natural texture also makes the colors a bit richer and more unified. I always fiddle with the hue/saturation/value of the texture image, because it has to fit the picture and it has to enhance it, not overpower it.
I hope that was helpful in some way! If you have any questions about how to use clipping masks, where to find brushes/textures/etc., please actually don’t ask me, because that stuff can be easily discovered by googling. But aside from those kinds of inquiries, or things addressed in my FAQ, I do welcome any questions I might be able to help with!
These characters belong to emstantinople and you can see more of them in her knight boyfriends tag.