Story-driven daily sketch­ing

Join il­lus­tra­tor Atey Ghailan as he takes you through his work­flow for en­vi­sion­ing and cre­at­ing a sketch that’s in­spired by his sur­round­ings

ImagineFX - - Issue 153 November 2017 -

Join il­lus­tra­tor Atey Ghailan as he takes you through his work­flow for cre­at­ing a sketch that’s in­spired by his sur­round­ings.

In this work­shop I’ll be shar­ing my thought process and ap­proach to cre­at­ing a sto­ry­driven sketch, in­spired by events I en­counter in my daily life. Last year I chal­lenged my­self to do one of these every day for a year. It was a re­ward­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and it’s an ex­er­cise I still try to do reg­u­larly be­cause I be­lieve that it helps me de­velop as an artist.

Be­cause this sketch is set in an ur­ban area, it’s im­por­tant to get the per­spec­tive as ac­cu­rate as pos­si­ble, which is why, along­side Pho­to­shop, I also use Cara­pace (a free pro­gram that’s no longer of­fi­cially avail­able) that helps me set up a per­spec­tive grid in a timely man­ner. Keep in mind, Cara­pace is just a tool to sup­port you – ac­tu­ally learn­ing and un­der­stand­ing per­spec­tive is go­ing to make your life much eas­ier.

The goal here is not only to show you how I work, but also to en­cour­age you to take in­spi­ra­tion from your sur­round­ings. Even if you only have time for a quick sketch, it’s im­por­tant to get your ideas down on pa­per.

Thumb­nail stage 1

The first thing I try to do with any im­age is to cap­ture the feel­ing of the story that I want to con­vey. Some­times I use line work, like above, and some­times I go straight into the paint­ing stage. This is the right time to solve any con­cerns you might have, be­cause mis­takes be­come harder to fix fur­ther down the creative process.

Sep­a­rat­ing sky and ground 2

At this stage, my main goal is to sim­ply sep­a­rate the sky from the ground in two lay­ers. This makes it eas­ier to paint and do ad­just­ments, since I al­ready know that I don’t want these two parts of the im­age merg­ing to­gether. I’m fill­ing in the ground with a darker colour so I can see it more clearly – this isn’t the colour I’ll be us­ing later on.

First colour pass 3

I de­cided in ad­vance that I wanted this scene to take place while the sun is set­ting, so here I’m block­ing in some very vi­brant colours to get rid of the dark colour that I added at the start. I also think that it’s much eas­ier to start with very sat­u­rated colours and tone it down later on, than to do the op­po­site.

Bal­anc­ing colours and val­ues 4

Here I’m try­ing to get an over­all read for the im­age. I de­cide how sat­u­rated I want the colours to be: you can see that I’ve al­ready toned the orange down from the pre­vi­ous step. I’m try­ing to paint with a lot of broad strokes and avoid tiny brush strokes and de­tail.

Adding de­tails and in­tro­duc­ing depth 5

Be­ing happy with the over­all look of the im­age, I feel like it’s time to do the de­tails. I start with what’s fur­thest away in the im­age and slowly work my way for­ward. I do this be­cause it’s eas­ier to plan which shapes are go­ing to over­lap, and over­lap­ping sells the sense of depth in the im­age.

Draw­ing more branches 6

When draw­ing some­thing that’s far away, such as trees and branches in this case, it’s im­por­tant to sug­gest them, rather than draw every tree and every branch in­di­vid­u­ally, be­cause they’re not the fo­cus in this im­age. How­ever, if these trees were closer to the viewer then I’d have to draw them more clearly.

Get­ting there now… 7

Right now, the over­all read of the back­ground is al­most done and I’m slowly mov­ing closer to my char­ac­ter. Since I’ve been work­ing as an en­vi­ron­ment con­cept artist for a long time, I pre­fer to do the en­vi­ron­ment be­fore I tackle the char­ac­ter.

Lasso and Se­lec­tion tools 8

Here I add some more de­tails to the back­ground by us­ing the Lasso (hit L for a short­cut) and the Se­lec­tion tools (press M). They’re very easy to man­age and add a lot of sharp and crisp edges to your de­tails.

Se­lect­ing my char­ac­ter 9

Just as with the first step for the en­vi­ron­ment, where I sep­a­rated the sky from the ground, here I sep­a­rate the char­ac­ters from ev­ery­thing else. I use a brush with no Pen Pres­sure to avoid trans­par­ent pix­els and ob­tain crisp edges. I also change the dog’s breed and pose.

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