Hey guys, this blog post will be dedicated to my process for illustrating, using my latest illustration “The Boozy Cat.”
I started out with the idea if wanting to create a beer label, as I love all the quirky art that you see a lot of on craft beer / cider nowadays. Also taking inspiration from David Peterson’s Mouse Guard – Legend of the Guard series, which are all set in June’s beer tavern, I wanted to create something that would be seen in a similar situation, in some fantastical old tavern.
I start off by drawing a few ideas in my sketchbook, I knew I wanted to draw a cat, perhaps set in an old Victorian time, which is quite similar to the Steampunk ragged look I love. I initially thought of doing an aristocratic figure, but later leaned more towards the idea of a more working class cat, enjoying a pint after a hard days work ;)
Once I have a sketch I am happy with, I will then draw in pencil either on layout paper, or Bristol Board, depending on how finalized I am with the idea. Once I am then 100% happy with the pencil drawing, I will start to ink over using black fine liner pens.
I scan this image into my computer and begin the colour process, using Sketchbook Pro 6 and my bamboo pen and touch. The Sketchbook program is pretty inexpensive to buy as well, pretty sure I was around £40 for it, so if you are looking for an alternative to Photoshop, especially if you are only wanting a program for drawing/painting then I would recommend Sketchbook Pro!
I love this program for colouring, as it is so simple, and also comes with a large variety of pens, paints, and various other drawing tools. I am in love with the Copic colour palettes, and mostly use these for my illustrations.
I begin colouring by creating layers for each part of the illustration, for example one will be “trousers” another could be “fur” etc. I then block in each part of the illustration in a flat colour, not necessary the colours I will be using, but just so it is easy to differentiate between the parts of the illustration. The reason I create layers of flat colours first is so that it is much easier to change parts of the illustration, add tone and highlights, without interfering with other parts of the illustration (for this reason, may I add it is important to “lock” the layers within Sketchbook, so you don’t cross over the lines you don’t want to).
Once the illustration is blocked in with colour, I begin to paint the image, testing out different colour combos until I am happy, then adding tone and texture using various paint tools (my faves are the air brush tool for high lights and shadows, then using custom paint brushes for texture). I wasn’t sure on having the background colour or not, but decided in the end to keep the background, but lighten it, as I loved the texture and feel it gave to the overall illustration.
Once happy with the colours, my final step is to take the illustration into Photoshop and remove the white paper background, so that I can save it onto a pure white background, and set it to a web suitable format.
And this is the final result! You can see it on my Character Illustration page, along with my other illustrations you may have missed!
I hope that was helpful, I have had a few people asking my drawing process before, so that should clarify it for the most part. If you have any further questions, feel free to shoot me a question in the comments, or alternatively you may contact me here.
Various ponderings by me; Nicola Brand: creator of the Nicolpops stitch-punk doll. I dabble with illustration, but my main passion is for knitting, and using mixed media to create one of a kind critters.