Final Version & Art Process

I’ve finished the Francesca and Isaiah piece. Check it out here, or peek at the thumbnail below. I’ve had pieces of this composition floating around in my head for a while – I knew I wanted to draw Franny, even the pose & meadow setting, but couldn’t make it all fit in my head. I finally sketched it out and realized that Isaiah was the missing piece. I’ve wanted to draw the Laundry dress too – that was tough but well worth it.

Francesca and Isaiah in a meadow

Art process - maybe it’s just me, but I love the drawing process as much as the finished work. I love reading artists websites where they share their creative process with others. (1) you can learn from each other, and (2) it’s just great to see how everyone ticks. Plus I find the art itself beautiful at every stage. Click through to see my art process from sketchbook to this image.

Overview of the process: tools – sketchbook, pencils, MacBook + PhotoShop CS3 + Wacom Bamboo Fun tablet (11 x 9 inches). I sometimes start in a sketchbook, other times I just sketch directly in PhotoShop using the Wacom. If I start in my sketchbook, I scan into computer then finish in PhotoShop. I work at very large resolutions (this image was done at 70 x 50 inches, wound up at 250MB). This way if I squiggle a little while drawing, downsampling smoothes everything out. It also helps to be able to zoom in and do details at high resolution.

PS – Click the images to see the full size originals in my gallery.

1. Character sketches – sketchbook & pencil (or pen), or direct into PhotoShop. This image started in the sketchbook, then I traced over the image on the tablet.

Step 1 - Character sketches

2. Detailed Inking - Wacom & PhotoShop, regular round brush, stroke dynamics. Isn’t Isaiah a cutey?

Step 2 - Detailed inking

3. Coloring – for real people, I match colors against photos. I use a big brush to fill in large areas, then add detail with various appropriate PhotoShop brushes.

Step 3 - Coloring

4. Clothing (Sketch, Ink, Color) – call me strange, but I need to draw clothes on top of a body. Even if they totally obscure the body. So after I’ve completed my nudes, I add the clothes. For Isaiah’s simple onesey I didn’t bother with a sketch, but you can see from Francesca’s complicated dress that I started with the blue sketch, followed with black inking & lots of color / detail work.

Step 4 - ClothingStep 4 - Clothing sketch

5. Finished! Francesca and Isaiah are now done – that took about 3 hours. The dress took most of the time – I had to get the actual dress out to see what the patterns were.

Step 5 - Finished Francesca and Isaiah

6. Background started – if I can start with a photo I will, here I found a nice meadow picture that suited my mental image of the final product. I scaled it to match my canvas, and resized & placed my subjects.

Step 6 - Starting the background

7. Background sketch – I go faster with the background, so broader sketch strokes to help me place the color later.

Step 7 - Background sketch

8. Background color & detail - just like with the people, I add detailed ink, broad swaths of color, and then more detail. I use assorted brushes here to give the natural feel to the wildflowers and sun highlights on the trees. Again, I do color matching from the original photo.

Step 8 - Background color & detail

9. Horizon and sky - the flattened image above doesn’t show this, but I left the sky transparent, allowing me to add a sky layer below the background layer. I then added a little gradient and some fluffy clouds, as well as a few horizon hills in darkening colors. Almost there!

Step 9 - Horizon and sky

10. There is no step 10. All done! Actually, I added a little shadowing and detail under Francesca & Isaiah’s feet to plant them in the scene. I’m more or less happy with this outcome – I’d had the idea in my head for a while and it finally came together. I may re-use the Francesca & Isaiah images in a simpler desktop image, but that’s for another day.

All done!

Thanks for reading!

About abe

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