Ah, I still don’t have any photos of the completed wall mural… So here’s something else I’m working on instead.
The author Neil Gaiman (American Gods, Stardust, Sandman!) is doing a calendar project and I loved his short story for June! I’m doing a full illustration that includes the husband to submit to his project, but I loved how the wife turned out so much that I decided to do a separate version with just her. She’s already half colored, but you just get the line work for now =)
I found a fun new freeware application that I wanted to test out. The line work on this went by almost twice as fast as it normally would have taken me.
It’s not very obvious, but I was trying out a really different technique with this image that I’m pretty excited about. If you look closely at her face you’ll notice that there’s a little bit of “painting” going on. I’ve talked a lot lately about improving my digital painting and mixing it in with my typically very flat character work. This is definitely the first successful attempt to do that. That said, the texture I used was a disaster. Lesson learned: pay attention to the close up details of new textures before getting hours into an image… The texture is out of focus and will now drive me absolutely crazy every time I see this image. God damn it. >_>
Oh! And I made a nice little signature brush too, so I can slap a neat little “MegK” onto new pieces now.
A few months ago I did a banner set for the Otome gaming forum “Kokoro Cafe” which has been blowing up. Who knew girly games were so popular??
This is one of the reasons I use layers so so so much. Since just about every element of the original image above is on its own layer, it was easy to go in and make small adjustments to create several Special Occasion versions: a 1000th member kiriban, spring time “Hanami” (turning the green trees into pink sakuras) and a winter “Happy Holidays”.
The winter one was a little more involved and actually required quite a bit of re-drawing/adjustments, but it was fun and turned out pretty nice. It went live on the site just a little while ago! I didn’t have enough time to do one for this past season, but I’m also planning on doing an Autumn/Halloween version for next year. Plus, at the rate the site is growing, I’m sure I’ll have to do another kiriban soon!
If you’d like to see the beginning to end process of how I created the original image, I posted a pretty detailed description of the process a couple of months ago. Thought process, scans, digital images, even a bit about the texturing that I used for the setting! Check it out here.
While inking is the most time consuming part of each piece, coloring is almost always the most difficult for me. I struggled for a long time getting any kind of cohesive color palette into my work. At first my colors were all over the map; everything clashed with everything… It was pretty bad, and I definitely managed to destroy some nice drawings for the sake of color practice, but I’ve come a long way since then because I was willing to ruin some. My coloring still needs a lot of work, but little by little I notice certain tones and techniques starting to “click” and make sense.
So for the colors of this piece I chose muted tones to give it a softer feel. I grayed out the blue of the sky to give it that cool snowy feeling without having to add any clouds (that’s another technique I need to work on: non-cheese ball clouds…). I also decided to leave the white of the “paper” as the snow. Using the white like that was something I picked up from my watercolor professor Harry Heil. I love the way it breaks down the walls of a drawing or painting. I’m not a big fan of image framing (not that I don’t still use it), it just feels too… stamped.
Oh! I almost forgot to talk about where the idea for this one same from. I was watching a really funny Korean movie called “Going by the Book” (it’s on Netflix!) and there was a scene in which a girl with a ridiculously large scarf shares it with the man sitting next to her. It was such a cute image, I screen captured it and sketched out a little thumbnail as soon as I saw it. The image I came up with looks nothing at all like the image in the movie, but that’s where the original inspiration came from.
**You get extra Geek points if you know where that scarf is from!! It was just so long… I had to =)
Inking (especially digitally, like this one) is always the most time consuming part of any piece for me. Each line has to be just right. I keep my left hand on CTRL-Z while I draw with my right so that I can quickly draw and delete, draw and delete, draw and delete… It gets to be second nature while drawing, I’ve actually caught myself reaching for CTRL-Z while sketching in my sketchbook… The average line in each of my drawings has been redrawn at least 3-4 times. If I’m really having a hard time on a certain area, I may go back into the sketch and either clear that area up or come up with something else all together. In fact, I did just that in several places in this image. It’s most obvious in the girl’s feet. I decided while inking that I didn’t like what I had sketched so I went back to that layer, erased what I had drawn and came up with a new design that was simpler and looked a lot better.
I constantly have to remind myself not to get too married to a sketch, or even to already inked lines. No matter how good it looks, it can always get better and going back into an image can save it!
I also realized at this point that I had no idea how I wanted to color it….
When I illustrate an image I do a lot of “pre-sketching” in my head; creating the characters, poses, environment in a rough idea form before ever putting pencil to paper (or in this case pen to tablet). When I do begin sketching it’s usually with a good idea of exactly where I’m going, but there are always lots of changes and tweaks that happen during this stage. I also use lots of photo references, especially for large props like that bench. I wanted to use a bench that was a little vintage and feminine looking, so I googled “bus bench” and browsed through the images for a while picking out photos of benches that fit the style I was looking for. Eventually I found one that looked nearly exactly like what I wanted, I just added in a little style from some of the other images I liked. I also did a little research on bus stop signs, since again I was looking for something that fit the style of the image.
With the props down, the next step was drawing in the characters to fit. Like I said, I already had a good idea of who/what/where but to make sketching and adjusting that much easier I did both characters on their own layer. I sketched them very loosely, then played around with their placement a bit. I decided that I wanted to make the guy look as awkward as possible, so I put him close to the edge, facing away from the girl and then stiffened his posture and gave him a bit of a panicked look. The girl I wanted to a bit more comfortable, so she is placed closer to the middle of the bench, leaning towards the guy just a bit, but still with a stiff posture. With the characters placed, I drew in the rest of the ridiculously long scarf, added a quick tree to balance it out a bit and add a wintry feel, and then detailed their clothing a bit more. Done! Next up: Linework.