A lot of people enjoyed when I posted the different stages of the Ethan Poster. Today I need to create an advertising banner for a company that has purchased a large campaign on my website. I thought I’d let you guys watch from start to finish. I’ll be updating this post with pictures as I create the art.
First we start off with the sketch. I did a really rough layout in non-photo blue pencil first, but it was so light I couldnt scan/photograph it. Now, normally I ink by hand, so if this was a comic, I would do the sketch in non-photo blue, and then ink directly over it. However for this piece I am going to be inking in photoshop, so I layed down another layer of regular pencil over the non-photo blue to darken the lines and flesh out some detail. You’ll notice I never draw more artwork than I’m going to need for the finished piece. It just wastes time. In my head I know that the way this banner will be cropped, our character’s legs will be cut, so I don’t even bother drawing them. I do draw a little extra though, just so I have room to work with bleed.
Once the sketch is scanned in, it’s time to start inking. I created a new layer which I will name “Lineart”, and begin tracing over the main lines of the sketch. Right now I’m just doing basic outlining.
I use all sorts of methods for inking, and all sorts of tools. For longer curves and lines I’ll use the pen tool or the polygonal lasso. For detail work, I’ll use my tablet (Wacom Intuos 2) and do it by hand. I get all of the basic lines in place, and see how it looks. Sometimes I need to deviate from the sketch lines, so I make sure everything is where I want it before I do any detail.
Another part of inking is making sure you use varying line weights. If you use the same width line for everything the artwork will look flat, and dull. I use heavier lines for objects closer to the “camera” and also opposite where my light source will be.
Before I start working on any details, I get rid of the sketch work underneath the lineart. It’s too clumsy and distracting. I’m still going for a cartoony look with this art, so I stop myself before too much detail is added. I don’t want it to look plain, but I don’t want it too busy either. I also keep in mind what the purpose of the artwork is. This isn’t a contest submission or anything. It’s going to be shrunken down onto an advertising banner, so I don’t go overboard. Now that I have the finished lineart, it’s time to start coloring.
I created a layer underneath my Lineart and labeled it “Flats”. This is where all of my block colors will go. Most of the CG will go between Flats and Lineart. I use the polygonal lasso tools to select and fill areas with base colors. I’m not going to get into color theory here. Go to art school if you want that. I just choose the colors I see in my head.
I also use darker shades of the colors as my flats, at least for this piece. This allows me to do a lot more work with highlights, and spend less time on shadows. Next up I start the CG.
So the first thing I do is create a new layer above Flats and name it “Lows”. This will be my first level of shading. Using the selection tools I cut and fill areas with darker shades to create the shadows. I hate this stage because the single level of shading makes the artwork look like anime. Over the next few stages (additional soft shading and highlights) I’ll be working to change that.
Depending on how detailed I want the artwork to be, and how long I want to spend working on it, I could continue to create new layers for different highs, lows, etc. I’m going to reign it in on this piece, because of what it’s intended for. I created another layer and named it “Lows 2″. This is where I did all of my soft shadowing. I use lassos and the magic wand, and the airbrush set to very low opacity. These shadows have few hard edges, and are there to compliment the first shadow layer.
Moving on to highlights, I worked on two layers at once. Above the Lows layers and below the Lineart layer, I create “Highs” and “Highs 2″. I then go to each section and work on both layers. I do general, broad highlighting on Highs, and then accent and additional smaller highlights on Highs 2. To make my selections I use the regular lasso tool and my mouse. Up close the edges look pixelated, but it’s quick and easy, and when you zoom out you can’t even see it.
I’m going to call this artwork finished, so I’ll flatten the layers (but not onto the background). Then I’ll place the artwork in the banner, size and crop it, and add any additional details such as sun glare, etc.
A closer look at the finished art: