Sunday, 26 May 2013

Portrait Sketch

I was very disappointed to be unable to attend my monthly figure painting session today. So, in self defence, I broke out the digital paintbox to attempt a quick study.

Most of my recent posts have been comics and cartoon related, but I have been looking at trying some of the painting tools in SketchBook Pro and MangaStudio 5, just to see how they stack up against my elderly version of Photoshop. And I have been very pleased with their performance.

This is an invented head, painted in SBP. I used only one brush out of a potential multitude of choices and a very limited palette. It very much resembles a first pass or rough block in with oils. Unfortunately I didn't save enough separate files to show the progression to get to this point, for which I kick myself. I'll try to do better next time... And someone has been urging me to do some screen recording videos for YouTube, so that may be in the near future as well.

I expect to spend a little more time with this one, and try to refine it to a higher degree of finish than anything else I have attempted in the digital studio. And the beauty of digital is that I can make changes on new layers and only keep the successful bits.

While I'm sorry to have missed an afternoon with my painting friends, this has been a very worthwhile afternoon's dabbling. I think this has great possibilities.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Sweet Violet

As you've seen in some previous posts, I have been spending a chunk of my time learning about producing digital illustration. Here's a piece that is a little more cartoony than most of what I've been doing recently, produced in SketchBook Pro and Manga Studio 5. A lot of the tutorials and work I've looked at have been by Paris Christou at ToonBox Studio. He has also been very generous with his time in replying to email questions, and this piece is a little bit of an homage to his "Cherry" character. I've named this svelte little sprite Sweet Violet.

When I work on paper I often begin with a blue pencil sketch, and clean up on top of that. This system seems to work for me digitally, as well. I had a sort of Tinkerbell character in mind when began this scribble. She seems to be having a little bit of a wardrobe malfunction...
 Now I need to be a little more focused on expression and body language, clean up some of the details a little and give the whole drawing some character.
 Now to make it more like a traditional pencil drawing by drawing over the layout with black on a new layer, cleaning and tightening up as I go. While my inclination is usually to go for a more "inked" look with my comics and cartoons, this is more like the final pencils for an animation frame. I have to admit, I haven't got a feel yet for digital inking, but this pencil look is not bad.
 Now I can create layers beneath the drawing layer to begin colouring. The lowest layer is simply filled with a neutral midtone. This is a carry-over from painting - it's easier to judge lights and darks against a midtone than againt the blank white of the canvas (or LCD screen.) These are the basic flat colours for Violet; I can add shadow and highlight later, if I want to get that carried away.
 In the end I opted to keep to flat colour. The outlines have all been coloured with a darker version of the colour they surround, to enhance the animation cel look. The background was painted digitally (and very roughly) in a separate document and imported, then made slightly transparent just to push it back a bit, lessening the intensity of the colours. The wings were coloured on their own layer, and again the transparency was adjusted to make them translucent.
I'm reasonably pleased with Sweet Violet - maybe we'll see more of her in the future. Cheers!