How can I present my character in a different way?
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.