August 20, 2014

Tuto :o)

Over the years, I got several questions concerning my creation process. Is it traditional or digital ? What pens do I use ? How do I scan my lineart in order to get crisp lines ? What is my coloring process ? So here is a tutorial that will (hopefully) answer some of those questions.



My art is a mix of traditional and digital. I do the lineart on paper using china ink pens. I love to draw and this "traditional" part is very important to me. Here are some of the pens I use :

  • UniPIN pens sizes 1.0 and 2.0 : My favorites. I do all the fine lines with them. They are solid, which is important because I tend to break softer ones.
  • Staedtler and FaberCastel : I use them mainly for strong lines or to fill small areas.
  • Artline : The 'oldies' in my collection. I don't use them so much since I have discovered the UniPIN.
  • Pencils : The cheapest ones I can find :D I love those kids use, because they are colorful or have cute animals drawn on them.
Pencil
Inked lineart

Once the lineart is final, I feed it to my scanner. I always scan in Black and White mode. The advantage of this is that I get really crisp lines, since there are only two colors : black and white.

So here is the difference between scanning in Black and White (left) versus scanning in Gray or Color mode (right). This allows me to easily fill the large areas with color using the Bucket Fill tool.

Once the lineart is scanned I clean it and fix any areas that I don't like. Sometimes little particles of dust get caught in the scanner, or pencil lines remain slightly visible after being erased. Scanning in Black and White accentuates all these small flaws. 

The next step is to fill the line art using solid colors only.

Before adding the shadows, I apply a texture. This is because the textures I use make the colors lighter. So I need to take this into account when adding shadows.

Left: Solid colors only
Right : Solid colors with texture applied (Overlay mode)

I use gray textures, that I have created myself using various color textures blended together. The advantage of these gray textures is that they don't actually alter the colors they are applied to. They only make them lighter or darker. This is really important if you want to keep your original colors intact. 
Two examples of the textures I use

Once I have my textures in place, I start adding shadows. I use Photoshop, but these options are also available in Gimp. And maybe other software, but these two are the only ones I know. 
The key idea is to get each individual shadow area on a separate layer. For example in the image below, all the yellow areas are on a separate layer and thus I can add the shadow using the layer's properties. I usually play with the blend modes, the shadow color and the size of it until I get the result I want. Always set the Distance to 0. This creates an uniform shadow. I choose the color of the shadow depending on the color of the area I am shadowing, but also depending on the effect I aim for. For example, a black shadow on a green leaf will make the green crisper, while a red shadow on the same green leaf, will make the leaf autumn like, giving it a softer look.
Each big area gets an unique separate layer.
Small areas are grouped together on a separate layer. For example, all the areas corresponding to a single petal are grouped on a single layer and shadowed together.
But then again, this also depends on the effect I aim to achieve.



Left : Solid colors with texture
Right : Solid colors, texture and shadows

This is how my 'shadow map' looks like


Once I have all my shadows in place, I start adding details.

Final small detail : I never let solid black RGB=[0,0,0] in the final artwork. I do this because my textures don't show on solid black. So the line art 'pops out' and does not blend well with the rest. So I replace the black line art with an almost-black color.
Left : Black line art
Right : Almost black line art
So here is the final artwork :



Final tips & tricks
  • Layer order is important
The solid colors layer is the first one. Details go on top of it because they are part of the drawing so shadows need to apply to them also. Shadows go on top of the Drawing and the Details, followed by the Almost black line art. The last one is the Texture. 
  • When working with Black and White line art, avoid re-sizing or rotating it. Re-size and rotate will add anti-aliasing effects (the gray dots surrounding the solid lines). Exception : rotation by 90, 180, 270 degrees. Moving the line art does not affect it. 


I hope this is useful ;)
Feel free to ask any questions ;)

Now go and have some fun drawing !

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