Monday, August 11, 2014

Blog Tour - "Froggie" Process

My crit group buddy Marcus Cutler has passed me the illustrator blog tour baton, so here goes:

What am I currently working on?
Right now I am concentrating a picture book proposal that is inspired by fairy tales, but it's a different spin.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I tend to get hired for stories that require expressive animal characters.

Why do I write what I write? (or draw what I draw?)
Hey, those stories (and pictures) aren't going to create themselves!

How does my individual writing/illustrating process work?
I'm going to detail the process for a style sample that I recently did for an educational app developer. 

I start with a blue pencil and do a loose drawing of basic shapes. I go over the blue pencil with graphite. Then I scan it in color and knock out the blue underdrawing using Hue/Saturation (cmd-U) as shown below, using the drop-down to target Cyans and Blues. I slide the Lightness all the way over to the right (+100) for each. 

Hue and Saturation (cmd-U)

I set the Layer Blending Mode for the drawings to Multiply. On a Layer underneath the drawing, I paint in the entire background. I usually block in everything with a standard Spatter Brush, then paint in detail and highlights with a custom textured Brush. I block in the frog at 100% Opacity on its own Layer (under the drawing). I carefully go over the shape, using the drawing as a guide. I usually use a brown midtown color. Next I click the "Lock Transparent Pixels" (see below) button on the Layer Panel and paint in the frog. I like to do this so that I don't have to make selections during the painting process. This will give me sharp edges, so I need to make sure to soften some edges later on. 

Here's a snapshot of the Layers:
Layer Panel. You can see that I added a Color Fill Layer to
warm-up the frog color. the Layer Blending Mode is set to
Soft Light (shown above), and I set the Layer Opacity to 45%
(also shown above). Click to enlarge.

I paint in the details and highlights with custom, textured Brushes. I often add a "Multiply" Layer to deepen the shadows (paint cool grays on a Layer set to the Multiply Blending Mode).

In this case I added an "Atmosphere" Layer to push back the background and give a foggy feel to the scene. I add a Color Fill Layer, choose a pale blue-green, then lower the Opacity. Because the frog is on his own Layer, I just have to place the "Atmosphere" Layer below the froggie Layer. 

I always add a "Top" Layer to paint over some of the drawing, redraw certain areas, and add highlights. 

I used a "Color Fill" Layer filled with a warm green-yellow to brighten up the frog. I tried different Layer Blending Modes but decided on "Soft Light."

Here's the final:
The final piece. Click to embiggen.
Animated process:

Here's a detail:
Detail. Click to enlarge.

I mostly use Brushes from my two collections: Wet and Dry Media. These are the ones that I used the most in this illustration:
These are from my Brush collections. Info is on the right sidebar.

Who are you are passing the interview to?

Next up is another buddy from our SCBWI crit group, Helena Juhasz. Please click here for her post. She writes: "I am a children's book author-illustrator with a soft-spot for young children's graphic novels and picture books. I am also the Illustrator Co-ordinator for SCBWI Canada West. I love writing stories and following the characters into their worlds, through layers of paper, pencil and paint."


Moira Munro said...

Thanks Dave! I'm going to try and remember the "Lock the transparent pixels" tip next time I paint.

David Opie said...

Moira, "locking transparent pixels" is a useful technique that will lessen your need to make selections as you paint. Give it a try!