Cartoony Digital Painting: Thought Process

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.

1. Preparation

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)

2. Concept

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.

Inktober Day 19 Filthy Bad Doggy Visual Storytelling - wip construction

I, then, started to add the important details such as the mud and curly fur.

Inktober Day 19 Filthy Bad Doggy Visual Storytelling wip details

This was what I ended up with but more could be done.

Inktober Day 19 Filthy Bad Doggy Visual Storytelling initial sketch

3. Finished

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.

Inktober Day 19 Filthy Bad Doggy Visual Storytelling wip inking

Varying the pressure in the tablet pen, I added colors to the dog. I kept them transparent to let the brown background show through.

Inktober Day 19 Filthy Bad Doggy Visual Storytelling wip colors

After that, I added some shadows on the dog itself and on the ground.

Inktober Day 19 Filthy Bad Doggy Visual Storytelling wip colors shadows

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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