How can I present my char­ac­ter in a dif­fer­ent way?

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - ImagineNation Artist Q&A -

Emily McCarthy, US

An­swer Alix replies

For some char­ac­ter art, cor­nerto-cor­ner de­sign with a fully fleshed-out scene may not suit the needs of the work. How­ever, that doesn’t mean your stand­alone char­ac­ter needs to lack for story and con­text. A cre­ative use of en­vi­ron­ment fram­ing and well-de­signed break­outs can help ground your char­ac­ter within their world, while still al­low­ing the versatility of be­ing a vi­gnette.

To start, you need a re­ally solid sil­hou­ette for the out­side shape of the piece. Cre­at­ing a lot of small thumb­nails to ex­per­i­ment with the push and pull of the neg­a­tive and pos­i­tive space will help cre­ate a com­po­si­tion that isn’t just a pleas­ing illustration, but also a strong de­sign. For this ex­am­ple, I lay out a hand­ful of thumb­nails us­ing both pen­cil on pa­per and a Cin­tiq tablet with Pho­to­shop, un­til I find one that strikes a chord.

Af­ter I have my thumb­nail down, I flesh it out as a sketch in Pho­to­shop. I mainly fo­cus on how the edges work within the white space. With every­thing laid out, I cre­ate a sim­ple sin­gle Color layer to form the ba­sis for a clip­ping mask. Ev­ery layer that’s cre­ated from this point onward will be clipped to this shape (us­ing Alt while hov­er­ing over the layer panel).

For finer con­trol of el­e­ments in­side the larger clipped area, I use the Layer Trans­parency lock (the checker­board box in the layer panel) to keep my edges tidy. Ren­der­ing out the re­main­der with every­thing locked to the mask makes fin­ish­ing up this vi­gnette a breeze.

When lock­ing down a de­sign, thumb­nails are key. I find that work­ing on pa­per at first can help me loosen up and get a good flow down.

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