Quick demo of Demon Circle preliminary sketch

Philip Howe Fine Art
Philip Howe's Art and 3D classes, CLICK HERE
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Here is another sketch for those digital artists who have written to me about more demos on how to go about sketching ideas, etc.
For most of my digital work, I usually do a rough pencil and scan it in or just look at it as I tweak it. More recently, I work digitally, just scratching around on the tablet until I find some interesting shapes that relate to what I am looking for, then refine this into a rough. Over those light lines, I add a tracing layer (a 50% or so layer of pure white that blocks out my rough a bit like tracing velum) then I just refine the drawing, cleaning it up here and there, adding middle and shadow areas and then highlights, if needed. It's just enough for me to see how I can approach it in full color and they usually only take less than an hour.
 Sometimes, I can even use this tonal sketch as a base value layer for my coloring to go over. Here is a good example of that technique.I have done enough life drawing that I can make up things like this on the fly, but for tight realism, I still prefer getting a model and seeing how the light follows the form, even in costume, if I have anything close. I still have to make up 70% of each piece, as in much of my Angel imagery, and that part is fun, since I never am quite sure how it will turn out.
 

1refined_sketch.jpg
1 rough digital line refined from very rough concept sketch
2_texture_shading_layer.jpg
2- a layer of color tone over the entire sketch

OK, this is the part that I think throws a lot of students- if some of the questions I have been getting are any indication. The only difference between this stage and the first one is that I added a layer and filled it with a middle tone warm tan, then made a layer mask so that I could paint in the lighter areas, like in the fur. Simple! I think it looks a bit more complex because the looseness of the brushwork and rough brush I chose gives the illusion of a lot of work, whereas it was around a minute or so to get the effect.

Learn how to use the layer masks in Photoshop and you will get effects that most people just don't understand. It's like a flexible airbrush mask where you can add or remove textures, line, create depth and realism with minimal effort and never loose the underlying image, since its just masked to our seeing it. If you understand it as values, its much easier to grasp and once you play with the tools, in depth,, its like anything else, you don't even thing much about it but just use the tools like any traditional medium. Once you get the tools down, you can really concentrate on desigh and compostiion and of course, content.

3_shader.jpg
Shader layer

Above, the shading layer can go over the previous one, using multiply or a transparent effect so you don't block out the underlying image. Or it can go below, if you do the same transparent effect for the layers above it. I made sure to make the first layer, which is the line drawing, stage 1, as a multiply layer, so that it can be seen to darken any layer beneath and the line will still be seen clearly. This is just a comp for my use, not a finished drawing of any kind, so all i really care about is how to get enough information down to convey what I need to see. This method is very effective for business, like game companies, that need artists to visualize something quickly. It reminds me a lot of the years I did comps with markers, same approach, but with much more flexibility. For example, if I wanted to cut out the bird and put it on the right side, I could in a matter of seconds and just work back into that area. 

finish_sketch_color_added.jpg
Final sketch with a bit of color added on a new layer

Above, the finished sketch at around a half hour or so, with a little color added on a separate layer. Work on separate layers whenever you can if you want the most flexibility. I could also flatten this, or dupe it and flatten that and then bring in that new merged layer so that i could play with the dodge and burn tools, creating easy shadow and highlight effects, without disturbing the underlying image. If you start thinking in this way- working in separate layers for effects, its a bit easier to learn and build up effects. I've had over a hundred layers on complex hi-tech digital images for some jobs, and it does get complex, like a good chess game, but its worth having the flexibility and you can often save some of the layers for other jobs that might need textures, line work, etc. Playing with those layer combinations can often lead to some nice surprises!
Below, compare the final rendering to the sketch and you can see how the study above helped me to get the tonal idea down, the lighting, shading, and textures- before I began final color.

demon_circle_detail1.jpg
Same section from final highres rendering

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