Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Star Wars Portraits - Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia

I haven't done portraits in a while - so I started painting up some Star Wars characters.  After three I was pretty much done, but I certainly learned a lot doing it.  It was a little different than usual because the references I used were from the films.  Because they were filmed in the late 70's - early 80's, a lot of the information in the pictures wasn't very clear.  The colors were a little funky too for the same reason.  Back then their cameras shot in a much lower resolution, so to get things to show up clearly I'm sure they had to use a bunch of makeup and heavy lighting.  The challenge was fun though, and I think I got much better at blending skin tones / textures, and painting pretty much every facial feature.  I also learned to improvise texture in clothing and fabric by doing these.  I'd like to do more, but I need to switch over to drawing things from my head (tired of looking so closely at references).

Sunday, March 30, 2014


Here we go, we've got some massive updates to get done on this here blog...

So the story behind this one is pretty simple - I was TICKED!  For a couple of weeks it seemed like people were just out to screw up everything I set out to do in life. To let off some steam, I'd work on this in between all of my other projects.  The sudden frustration made me feel like a wrestling / beating the tar out of some frightening creature 10 times my size.  In the end it was actually pretty fun to do it and I learned a lot.

This time I actually tracked the process (as best as I could, anyway) so that you could see how I work on these things.  The process on this picture cuts some corners because it wasn't originally supposed to turn into a finished product.  However, I thought it'd be fun to share it because I did things completely differently - without planning much at all. Here's a gif of each stage and below I'll briefly describe the thinking behind each one.

1 - Quick, rough sketch.  I'm only trying to get a basic idea of what I want.  I didn't even care about breaking down shapes or anything - most parts can even be scribbles.  Usually I draw simple shapes on this step to make a structure to draw my lines over.

2 - Refined lines.  Here I turn down the opacity of my sketch layer and just draw some cleaner lines right over the top the sketch so I can get a better idea of what things are doing in the picture.

3 - Added some value.  I throw in some basic gray value over my sketch layer that will help give me the overall value of the two characters.  I decide what parts I want to pop out of the picture.

4 - Flat colors.  I choose some basic colors that each surface is going to have and put them in their own layer over the top of the gray value and set it to "Multiply".  The value shows right through the color.

5 - Concentrated highlights and shadows.  I add some lighter color to the parts that I want to accentuate more to add some texture, and add some shadows to give some depth.  I also put in some red tints on the flesh to make it them look full of life.

6 - Lose the lines.  I turn down the opacity on my line work and refine all the edges and details that the lines were giving me, then I delete the line layer.  This way everything looks more three dimensional.  I go in and add more small details in the fur, clothing, facial features, etc.  I add a gradient set to "screen" to the background layer behind the characters to add some intensity.

7 - More details, separation of the brightest highlights and the darkest shadows.  Then I blend the mid tones into the shadow and light to create a smooth transition.  This stage is just noodling away at small details like the fur, in this case.

8 - Fill light.  I add some faint bluish hues to the characters to make them look more three dimensional and help the viewer see their forms a little bit better.  Drool added for dramatic effect!

WHEW.  That was fun.  But exhausting to type it all out - it's much easier to just do it and not explain anything.

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Link between...two...Links?

Cel Shaded Link

Painted Link

So I thought of an exercise that I wanted to try out.  I had the urge to both draw Link and do a picture with cartoony cel shades (which I'd never really done before).

What I ended up doing was finishing the picture on top in that style - using 100% opacity on my brush, leaving all the line work, and not blending anything together.  The process was kind of annoying at times because of the limitation of not blending, mainly because it was outside of my comfort zone.  Because of all that, I thought it might be cool to repost the picture with a paintover in a more realistic style (and some slight editing on the background).  That's the one on the bottom.

I like both styles in different ways - the one on the left is more storybook/cartoon looking, and the one on the right has greater contrast and pops certain things out more.