Illustrations via Photoshop

As an artist, I always find it interesting to see how another artist works through a project. Do they create their art solely by hand, only to be scanned in and converted to a digital file upon completion? Or perhaps, like my own illustrations, their work is more hybridized between hand drawn and digitally polished? I am creatively curious about this process and suspect many others are as well. So I have decided to share samples of my process now and again for all you curious cats out there. One day I plan to be savvy enough to do one of those inspiring time lapsed videos. But, until then.....take a peek into my brain through a few scans and some written words.

First I do a pencil sketch on a piece of paper that is the expected size of the completed project. This is when I try to execute the composition that I have pictured in my head. When I am pleased with the outcome, I go over the whole drawing with my Sakura MIcron ink pens. I employ various sizes, using a 5.0 for the heavy lines and a .005 for the finest line work (usually around the eyes). Then I erase all of the pencil with a kneaded eraser. I input this into my computer via my scanner which is set for Black and White and 150dpi output. If this was a commercial job, I may scan it in at 300dpi. 

This is my initial scan:


Sometimes I use Illustrator to convert the drawing for me, to prepare it to be filled in Photoshop. For this project, I opened the file in Photoshop and used my layers box to adjust the contrast to a rich black and white. I then opened another layer, drawing on top of that to close any line areas that I knew I wanted to fill. When I was happy with those lines, I merged that layer with the original. Then I was able to fill areas with color, using my paint bucket, clicking on each area, making sure the swatch in the swatch box was what I wanted to use. This took care of the background, hat and hair. I selected the white area of her face with my wand, then opened another layer and airbrushed on her makeup which stayed within the select. This kept the blush off of the hair. I did get too much yellow in her eyebrow area and , used my airbrush eraser to remove the unwanted color. I used my airbrush in white, choosing a smaller size to do the highlights and shines on the eyes and lips. 


I could have stopped here, because it does have that clean 80's Nagel style to it. But, I decided that I wanted to see a bit of shadow and contour around the face. So, I repeated the same process above, working on other layers, drawing and airbrushing until I was satisfied. I really wanted a heavier black line around the face, which is more like a drawing from a graphic novel. I tend to like high contrast. You can choose to flatten all of your layers when done, or not, it is your choice. As long as the layer is being shown in the layers box (not hidden), it will show up in your print out. The final touch was a bow made of real ribbon, glued to the front. The finished drawing ended up looking a little bit like Catherine Zeta Jones, which is never a bad thing, so I named the file ZetaFinal. This was a birthday card for a friend. 


Let me know in the comments if you would like to see more posts about the artistic process.