While working on thumbnails for my next graphic novel The Time Museum, (to be published by First Second Books), I had the idea for a nice pinup slash practice piece and this time I decided to document the process. I've always been fascinated by how other artists do their thing, so I hope you enjoy this.
First off, I begin with an idea and a sketch. This one comes from a scene where the main character Delia is being lead into the Time Museum for the first time by her new friend Michiko. After noodling with their body positions for a while I come up with the composition sketch (right). Then it's time to do the drawing. for color illustrations I find it much easier in the long run to draw the characters sepperate from the backgrounds, that way I can manipulate them independently. On the left we have our duo.
And here they are inked. I use a Winsor & Newton sable brush and W&N Black Indian Ink. I generally like to ink right after my pencils, that's why I haven't gone to the backgrounds yet.
This is the inked background. I forgot to take a pic of the pencils but it was a little looser than the characters as is the inking. I try to make backgrounds more realistic so as to ground the relatively cartoony characters in their world. It's a technique used in comics and animation often.
I have now scanned both pieces into the computer and combined them in Photoshop where I will be doing all the coloring. As you can see I've changed the background line art to a dark brown as a way of visually pushing it back from the foreground characters. This is where drawing them separately comes in very handy. I'm also able to manipulate the sizes to how I want it. The floor and ceiling are also on separate layers.
Now that the pieces are together we start coloring beginning with the flat colors. It's pretty simple to do but it is the foundation that all the fancy rendering is based on.
Once the flats are down I then add the shadow layer. For speed I actually hand draw the shadows using tracing paper over the original art. I then scan it, line it up in Photoshop, then using the magic wand tool I make the shadow layer. I then rendered the characters color, adding highlights, darkening the shadows, and generally pumping up the colors.
Now comes the tedious part, rendering the background. It's tricky because I want to give it that solid, realistic foundation, but it can get muddy easily, so I'm trying to learn to have a lighter touch these days.
And now the finished product! Once the backgrounds were done, I did the floor, than added the atmospherics such as highlights, some textures, and some color tinting to unify everything. I also do lots more tweaking of the rendering and even the flat colors.
And that's that! I hope you found this interesting. Maybe I'll do more of this in the future.