How to Art Part 1 – Behind the Scenes of AotA

I have received a lot of questions lately about how I was doing these daily images this month and what I was meaning when I said pencil drawings and digital editing. So, today I thought I would take a minute to explain the process of how this…

Became this….

So to start off with I must say that this process works for me knocking out what feels like a finished piece in a very short period of time but by no means is really finished for print purposes or any firm of publication.  This is a strictly for media based events so the resolution doesn’t need to be grateful to come across well.  Now when it comes to the initial drawing this will just be my bias preferences and by no means should be taken as a do it this way because you should do whatever makes you comfortable.  Those points aside let’s begin…. 

The drawing surfaces I used for every last one of the Advent of the Archetypes series was the Strathmore Series 300 Artist Tiles.  They are bristol with a vellum surface that hold ink and pencil well but can take a beating under erasing.  For the quick sketch I love this because I tend to smudge a lot for quick shading and then can easily erase where it goes over the line.  Next up is the pencil.

For quick sketches I always use the M301 .5mm Zebra.  It’s versitisle cheap and moves easily in the hand for that quick shift of how you hole the pencil.  The next thing I do is two things: I pull up references of what I want to draw (typically historical time line examples of character evolution) usually a simple Google search or pulling a book off my shelf and the second is I grab theses helpers.

These along with some possible action figures help me really capture the more natural poses.  I can point out the images I didn’t use a model with and that is because they tend to feel more stiff and may have errors as well.  This is often how someone ends up with a limb a lot longer than the other.   So once I have the drawing in mind I do a rough outline sketch to get the proportions in place.  So let’s start with the Cheshire Cat here.

Next we do the detail and shading and we get the drawing to this stage… (more or less a relatively finished drawing)

OK it is not perfect and it was only a 5-10 minute quick drawing and honestly that is what I want.  I could spend hours making it just the way I want it but I am not here to make a masterpiece pencil drawing.  So now on to digital.  So begin by cropping.  On Android phones which I use I always crop in Gallery under edit. I always set it to 1:1 because since it will be seen most heavily on Instagram I want it to be in the dimensions it requires so I don’t have to cut into anything I do later. 

Now that it is cropped and saved I close everything and move to Pixlr.  This is my knew favorite app for so many quick filter fixes.  So let’s open the image into Pixlr and you should see it like this. 

Okay now see that double circle second to left on the bottom? That is where all your standard image adjustments are that you expect in photoshop like apps. Under “adjustment” you will find the usual contrast, highlight, saturation, vibrance, saturation, exposure, etc.  So first I turn the shadow dial left into the negative and the highlight to the right to positives.  This widens the shading curve that was most likely minimized by your picture being taken on a phone in less than ideal lighting.  I also play with contrast a little but you have to be careful here because this app likes to blow out detail quickly and you end up with over exposed images.  So when you made all your adjustments hit the check mark on the right to save all  the adjustments you just made. 

Next in Part 2 we will get into bringing color and filters into the mix and dive into the versatility of this app.  

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