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Category: Painting Steps

Cat Progress


Continuing on the animal theme, a cat! My little boy loves cats for some reason, so I have been drawing a lot of cartoon cats for him lately, so naturally this lead to a compulsion to draw a finished cat too.


Initial drawing.


Laying in some values.


Lots of work in digital pencils. Unfortunately I forgot to save more progress shots in between these two, I actually did a quite a bit more work in values before starting on the detail pencil work.


Trying to bring order to the messy strokes. Then added fine detail to reach the final image.


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Finnhorse progress



I decided I really ought to add some horse power to my portfolio, since I’ve spend such a long time studying them, but currently had nothing to show for it. This was also a convenient excuse to give digital pencils a try, and to see if I could get traditional looking results with them.


The initial drawing. I knew I was not quite happy with the head, but knew I’d better catch an expression I liked in paint then with line, so I didn’t worry about it too much at this stage.


Initial values laid out with a broad brush.


Threw a gradient map filter on top of the black and white to get a ground of color.


Color worked in. lots of lots of small strokes with digital pencils. Time consuming but strangely satisfying. I was actually really happy with this version, but alas I had decided to paint a finnhorse, and the coloring was just too yellow to pass off as a breed color, even with artistic license. The horse is a bit elegant for a finnhorse too, but since there’s so much variance in the breed between the different uses, I felt I could pass that off better. I do love palominos though!


Did another gradient map to adjust color, and worked on the color until I was happy with it. Added fine detail. Fine tuned background from this to reach the final image.


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And Her Name Was Susan


So here’s a a little Pratchett fan art piece I did, of Susan Sto Helit as Death. I don’t do fan art very often and when I do I prefer doing characters from literature, as I feel that gives me a more interesting creative challenge then going off from a visual design someone else has already come up with. I’ve always thought Susan was a fun character so it was interesting to visualize her.

This turned out to be a lot harder than I thought, as when I started I had this nice vision of having a fleshy face visible with the skull just showing through it as nice and white, sounds good right? I just couldn’t get it to work visually, as you’ll see in the progress pics, so I ended up just going full skull. A more symbolic and less rendered approach might have gotten it to work, and I’m now almost sad I didn’t go that way now. I also ended up having trouble with the character in another way. In the books she’s described as “pretty, in a skinny way” so at first I made her, well, pretty. But I really didn’t feel like the character was just “a pretty face” and ended up in a sort of conflict with myself over it. In the end of course I sidestepped that issue with the more prominent skull.

Here are the steps.

1. Pencil sketch


2. Value sketch on top of pencils, and trying out the color scheme.


3. Played with color until I found something that felt right, Tried to make character less cute – now she just looked grumpy though.


4. Adding more skull, not feeling good.


5. Abandoned fleshy face as not working, went all out skull. At least she feels scary now! Spent tons of time studying ravens, and then painted it in. At this point raven takes way too much attention, so started to doubt my bg and values


6. Redid the cloud shapes in the bg, and tuned the bg darker and lightened the hair – now the attention is back on the character.


Final. Added some secondary lights, refined the clouds and other details.


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Broken Forest Progress



I haven’t had a lot of changes to do painting lately, with Sproggiwood nearing finish and all, so I was really happy to get my (digital) brushes out for this one! This is an illustration for a story scene in the game depicting a “horrible future”. This picture was actually first asked for few years back already when we started development on the game, but as the story evolved the need was scratched. Through the magic of iteration it made a reappearance this fall, so I dug out my old sketches and promptly scrapped them.

It turns out I have learned something about painting the past two years, because this time I had the sense to start with drawing before jumping to paint.


This is the thumbnail sketch I picked from my efforts.


Scanned the thumbnail and added digital values. I probably could have gone a bit further with this one, I had a few problems with the value composition later on.


Printed out my value sketch at around 20 – 30 % opacity and drew the final line work on top of that. I’ve found this is a neat way to avoid having to use my light table that I paid lots of money for. Honestly though this is a lot faster, and the slight values underneath my drawing help me to visualize the whole thing in three dimensions.


Here’s the color scheme settled, I knew from the beginning I wanted something that would feel a bit oppressive and strange, so yellow/red/purple was what I had in mind. I don’t usually try out different color schemes for pieces, since my original concept of a piece always comes with color in my mind, then I just need to work at achieving that feeling in paint.


Continued with blocking shapes out and changed some drawing details. Started working from the background out, so that’s almost final at this point.


Giving everything a second pass with more detail pretty much.


Finally added some details, drew the river out and added some line work on top of the piece for emphasis on a whim. Originally when I imagined the piece I saw it as kinda sketchy and scratchy, and the lines seemed to work well to bring that about.


Fox Final in Mixed Media


The final piece of the personal project done! As with the other two latest ones the fox ended up requiring two tries at the final, the first when ending up not satisfying me color and value wise. It was best of the first tries however, so for a bit I toyed with the idea of just letting it be the final, but ended up redoing it with the rest in the end.

Now that the artwork for the project is finally finished starts the hard phase of letting go and moving on to new things. As this one has been a really intense project with the new stylizitation and the test with new materials the fact that it’s done and finished has an even bigger effect. I’ll probably write a post mortem of the whole thing and what I got out of it in a bit, once I can view it better from a distance.





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Bear Final Mixed Media

Ooh, the bear! He was the most difficult of the pieces by far, in every way imaginable. First the problems with browns I described in a previous post about the rabbit, which I ended up solving by using acrylic washes instead of ink ones to start with, to get better shades of brown. Then just the problems of his overlapping fur, which took a lot of time to get right at every stage. And finally this was the most accident prone piece, I poured a whole bottle of burnt sienna over a drawing with ink lines I had just finished. Somehow it managed not to actually soil any other pieces lying around on the table though, so I guess I should really thank my lucky stars for that one!

I did a lot of color pencil work on this one on top of the washes, and I’m pretty happy with the color shifts I was able to achieve that way. I’ll probably continue to experiment with the use of the colored pencils and acrylics in the future, to see if I can do other cool stuff with them that I’d like.

bear_color ink_spill





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Hare Final Mixed Media

Project moving forward! I thought I had this thing going pretty well after I finished the owl, but I had an unfortunate problem as I moved on to browns: I hate every brown ink I have, and I have them all. Hate is maybe a bit of a strong word, more accurately my stable brown is missing. What I’d like to have is a purplish/reddish dark brown, but seems that’s not an ink pigment. All the brown pigments available are either green or orange in tint, none red. Consequently I had trouble deciding on the color scheme, as my color roughs proved completely useless in light of the pigments I had. Once I empty some of my ink bottles I might try doing a ready mix of reddish brown and a nice grey, to give me a bit more range.

I was a bit sad I wasn’t able to follow the path of my color rough because I liked where it was going. Once I moved on from that however I was able to come up with a color scheme that worked with what I had and looked a lot more consistent with other pieces in the series.  I also suffered from an urge to improve on my technique from the previous pictures, leading to one scrapped color versions before the final with messed up values and color.






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Owl Inks Finished!

My seoncod ink painting is done, pretty exciting!


Final Drawing:


First pass at pencil final:


Digital color rough:




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Unicorn Inks and the progress to final

So, final (for now)!

As well as the final stage of my exploration, I’m also happy enough to call the latest revision final, hopefully to stay that way. It took a while to get this  one done, as I needed to determine the art supplies I was missing and make the trip to buy them.

I’ve never used hot pressed watercolor paper before, as for some reason it’s a bit hard to find. I got a few different versions to test, one pure white and one yellow tinted. This one is on the yellow tinted paper, but as it makes transferring to the computer a bit more challenging I think I’ll stick to the white one in the future.

So, hot pressed watercolor paper, rohrer & klingner waterproof inks and colored pencils:


I attached the whole of the process of style exploration for easy viewing, beginning from bottom. Now that the style and materials are settled on, I’ll continue on to take the rest of the roughs to final.

unicorn_coloredpencil2 unicorn_pencil2

unicorn_ink  unicorn_pastel_small unicorn_coloredpencil



The other posts relating to this process and with more words about each stage:

Beginning of project:

Digital color roughs:

Experiments with different types of traditional media:

Revision of final drawing:

Round 2 of exploration:

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Personal Project Roughs

Here are the color roughs for the personal project I introduced a few posts back. The purpose of this stage was to try to find a color scheme that works with all the images and start out rendering, so I can get a handle on which features of the animals I’m happy abstracting and which ones I really want to depict as far as form and color goes. I also refined the drawings, because as usual I can imagine my pictures better in values, so when I start adding values I always end up making changes to an initial drawing.

Next step will be completing final drawings, and starting out experimentation in traditional media. I’m honestly a bit scared of this step. I haven’t used traditional mediums in ages for one. Another problem is that I’m actually very satisfied with my color scheme, and I know I won’t be achieving equal brightness and saturation in traditional mediums. It might still turn out with something I like even better, who knows. It’s kinda silly to be scared, because I will always be able to come back to these roughs and finish the images digitally if I don’t like the result, but fear is rarely rational.


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