I got the chance to do some artwork for Storium, the very cool play by post engine that I actually kickstarted back in it’s beginnings. I played in a very fun scifi space trader game for a bit before it ran out of steam. Storium mechanics are all about sharing and determining narrative control as the story/game moves forth. It is damn clever and anyone who is a gamer (and I know there are lot of you out there who read my various threads and posts!), you owe it to yourself to check it out. It is a great way to have game with old friends who are scattered all across the world.
Anyhow, I got a chance to do 10 fantasy character illustrations for one their games because they met stretch goals via Kickstarter. I thought I would share a step by step process of one of them.
I have been working on gray tone paper a lot lately. I really like being able to get in lights, which is a combination of white pencil and a Pentel white ink pen. LOVE the white ink pen. Now, if they would only make a brush version!. And then I tend to use 3 pencils. One is a black color pencil (when I really know what I’m doing with shade or line, because it is not erasable). A F pencil for light sketching and B 7mm mechanical pencil for tightening up the drawing. I also will use the F for light shading, but mostly use the black color pencil for darker shadows.
And here is a scan of what that looks like:
Now, I tend to draw very light and so the scan is “punched up” a bit by playing with Contrast/Brightness and Levels in Photoshop… to get the darks a bit darker.
Next, I take the scan to Duotone in Photoshop. Because one of the main brushes I use in Manga Studio 5 picks up a lot of the color of whatever is below the brush. Doing it on gray tends to be a bit “dirty” and “cool”. So, with Duotone, I take it to a warmer monotone. Then I make the Duotone, RGB color, because Manga Studio 5 won’t recognize Duotone from Photoshop. One gets this, see below….
See? It is just a bit warmer.
The next step is to sketch a CONTINUOUS outline in Manga Studio 5 on a new layer (set to Multiply). Because I am going to be working on the background separately and because I want to grab a copy of the main figure WITHOUT the background. I like using the color pencil tool or the ink brush tool for outlines in Manga Studio 5. Since my colors are fairly close, I threw a white layer behind the outline so y’all can see it clearly. And it looks like this:
Now I can select the background, and any holes (like up in the hair near her face) and invert the selection. I start another Multiply layer and fill it with a very light color, in this case it was the color I was using for the outline, that nice warm brown. Keeping the selection, I drop down to the original layer and make a copy of ONLY that selection, bring it up to the filled color multiply section and merge those two layers. Now, I have a layer that is normal and I can paint on with my favorite watercolor and oil brushes in Manga Studio.
If I have no background for a commission, which I often do, I might keep the Multiply line layer. But with backgrounds, I tend to discard them or even blur and erase portions. But that is something I decide about 3/4s through the entire illustration.
I’ve started to work on the hair and a bit of the face in the next pic, but you can see how the combo selection looks as I am putting paint down. One these kinds of vignettes, I like to work on the focus first and the background second… the exact opposite I tend to with traditional oils or acrylics, where I like to build from the back and come forward to the foreground elements. But with digital, I can really manipulate the background easily.. but that is to come down the line..
Some times during painting, I will throw up a layer of Multiply to get a nice rich dark. I did that in a couple of places in the hair. Then merge that with my painting layer. I tend to like to have only 3 really active layers at at time, often flattening them, in order to allow the oil and waterbrush brushes to combine and blend with those colors.
Stay tuned for Part 2, coming soon!