Every illustration project I work on, no matter the time frame, goes through several stages: Preparation, Concept, Finished, Final touches.
In this blog I will take you on a journey inside my head to talk about these stages and I will use my dog Inktober submission as an example.
The most time consuming, this stage takes up to 50% of the time. In this stage of the drawing, I take some time to study the subject. (Horrifying flash backs of when I was preparing for a zombie digital painting, but that's for another blog!)
Since I have never drawn a bad doggy before, I watched a coupla videos and looked at a bunch of photos to understand the general anatomy, fur types, color patterns and behavior of dogs.
I always have pencil and paper handy to take visual notes.
Is it going to be a dog or a puppy?
Can I cast a husky for this role just because I love huskies? should it be another breed?
Which angle is best to show the dog, the mud and the trail? (front, 3/4 view, side)
How much facial detail is enough?
I went for a cartoony style because drawing a real dog that is filthy would be really heavy on the eyes.
After a few sketches on paper, I figured that an adult Border Collie would be perfect for this illustration for the following reasons:
long fur: can easily make it look all curly and wet.
adult is big enough to see the curly locks, unlike if I draw a puppy with a big head and much smaller body.
black and white fur: provides good contrast and stands out on the paper.
floppy ears: are just fun :P (nothing against straight ears, some of my best friends have straight ears)
Now it's time to take the idea of this sketch into Photoshop and clean it up some.
I drew an initial digital sketch, nothing fancy just a simple construction of the dog and the trail.
I, then, started to add the important details such as the mud and curly fur.
This was what I ended up with but more could be done.
Usually the second longest stage, where I develop the illustration further.
In this version I made my inking thinner overall. It is important to vary the thickness of the lines for a more interesting result.
Varying the pressure in the tablet pen, I added colors to the dog. I kept them transparent to let the brown background show through.
After that, I added some shadows on the dog itself and on the ground.
4. Final Touches
This stage varies from one project to another. For this illustration, I added some white brush marks to show his teeth, whiskers, the light in his eyes, and the light on the ground.
This is my process, what is yours?
Leave a comment to share your thoughts.
My Inktober submissions can be found here
I hope being in my head was useful and fun!
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Heidi Ahmad (@heidiGFX)
Digital Illustrator & Colorist
Telling Stories Through Light & Color
Bachelor of Fine Arts
Third Culture Kid (TCK)
Freelance Writer/Translator - Design Guide Magazine
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