As a child, I loved the smell of crayons, the feel of paper, and the possibilities of what the blank page held. And I still do! I love being a digital artist, but I don’t want to lose the tactile connection of my traditional roots so I have made it part of my process.
Start with paper
I just want to stop a second and give a shoutout to my favorite sketchbooks...Baron Fig! (I’ll share my detailed love of them in another blog post.). I carry sketchbooks of various sizes with me all of the time - even to the YMCA. Yes, even a balance-challenged person like me can peddle a bike and sketch at the same time. Eat and sketch...drink wine and sketch...enjoy coffee and sketch...get the picture? I have not mastered sleep and sketch...I like my sleep! The point is, I take my favorite pencil and sketchbook with me to sketch my ideas. Sometimes my sketches do start on my iPad Pro, but it’s not the same experience. My first choice is paper.
Take a picture
Next in my process is taking a phone picture of my sketch. Using Airdrop makes it super-easy! I deliver it right to my iMac - or iPad Pro if I’m not in my studio. I try to upload several sketches and ideas at one time so it's done (and I don't forget!).
Refine the sketch
I am a messy sketcher 90% of the time. My daughter called them "fuzzy" when she was little. Sometimes my characters are disjointed and need to be “stitched” together. On my iPad Pro, I use Procreate, Adobe Sketch and Sketchbook. On my iMac, it’s Photoshop or Illustrator. I have an older Intuos tablet and use an ancient...vintage...old Cintiq for all of my work.
As you see in the image below, the sketch started rough and was cleaned up (very little) in Photoshop.
Practice with traditional (digital) style
For this illustration, I wanted to keep it loose so I chose a pencil outline and digital watercolor brushes (I used a variety by Kyle T. Webster).
I added the background first, and followed with coloring the fur and details. I also added shadow and highlight layers. (Details below)
Keep practicing, keep going
I would like to be better with digital watercolor so I practice. And practice some more. There are like 4 million digital watercolor brushes to choose from. It’s truly mind blowing...and confusing. I’m currently working to build a small library of the brushes I use the most. Working with acrylics and gouache are also on my “do it better” list.
Whatever it is that you want to learn, and do it well, requires practice. Keeping a traditional element to my digital illustration process is important to me. After all, who doesn’t love the smell of an open box of crayons that are inviting you to come play?!
Keep the conversation going...
If you come from a traditional art background, and you have crossed over to digital media, what do you do for the “tactile” connections, such as with paper, fiber or fabric?
Leave your comments below :D
|Pencil Sketch • Phone Picture • Upload to iMac and Stitch Together|
|Digital Pencil Outline - Multiply Layer|
|Digital Watercolor Background Added|
|Color, Shading and Highlights Added Last.|