Monday, January 29, 2007

The Western Black Bear

I did this last night for the Avalanche Art Blog... the topic was "Villains," so I went with the obvious choice: the Western Black Bear. It would be hard to find a more feared villain in the folklore of my mind. Although I'd rather write something stupid about the bear, the old west, or how I'd benefit from looking at visual reference of a gun before I try to draw one, instead I'm going to explain the process I use to arrive at a final image like this one. I've never been much of a painter, so here's how I've managed to get around that with the help of Photoshop.

Step 1 - First I try to decide on a rough character design to base my drawing on. Sometimes I skip this step for time reasons, and that becomes pretty obvious... at least to me. I start out with a bunch of heads and faces, then as soon as I find one I kind of like, I add a body to it.

Step 2 - Now that I do a lot of storyboards, I've abandoned the skill of drawing on model. So the "design" of the character becomes a loose version of what the final drawing might kind of look like. But I at least have something to base my final drawing on, so I continue with a rough sketch of the character in the pose I want him in. Step 3 - After using very basic shapes to get the gesture I want, I add all my details in what I consider a rough sketch, but probably not as "rough" as a lot of people draw. I sharpen my pencil a lot too. I hate drawing with a dull pencil. That's the main reason my rough sketches stay somewhat clean. Step 4 - With the drawing mostly nailed down, I trace it using an ink pen, sometimes making minor changes to shapes and smaller details like fingers that weren't quite right. I've done a fair amount of animation clean-up, and that's pretty much what this step is. It mostly takes patience and a steady hand. I also generally use a thicker line for the outermost lines and taper them into the form where necessary. Step 5 - I scan the drawing into the computer, then in Photoshop I desaturate the image and adjust the brightness and contrast to make the clean-up line solid and clear. Then in the layers window, I duplicate the image twice and throw away the background. With the selection tool's tolerance set at 32 (which I believe is the default setting), I select everything behind the bear and delete it from the lower layer. Then I un-check the "contiguous" box from the selection tool's settings and click anywhere on the image that's white, which selects all the white area in one click. I delete that area from the top layer. Man, this sounds more confusing than it is. Then I lock the two layers. Now, finally, I can drop colors into the lower layer without losing any of my line drawing, which sits above it on the top layer. This paragraph makes less sense than most of the of crap I write on my blog. Step 6 - Next I color the outline (the top layer) using colors that are darker and a bit more saturated than the color of the object I'm outlining. Sometimes I skip this step and leave the outline black. Coloring the outline makes it seem rounded instead of flat, so when I have time, I prefer coloring the outline.Step 7 - Using the selection lasso, I select various areas of the character and "feather" the selections. I feather more for round shapes and less for hard shadows. Then I adjust the hue, saturation, and brightness to add shadows, highlights, and reflective lighting. Step 8 - By the time I get to the background, I've usually worn myself out on the drawing, so I drop a quick shadow under the character, mess with the opacity of the shadow layer, and call it done. But sometimes I want more of a mood than the white background offers. Enter the gradient tool. I choose some colors I think I'll like then use them to make a sky and a ground. Then I mess with the hue and saturation until I'm satisfied with my cheap, stupid background. Step 9 - Then to finish it up, I add some clouds or something. In this drawing I airbrushed in some haze in the background to fade out the ground line, and I added some foreground dust. Then I flattened the whole image and did a little more adjusting of the hue, saturation, and contrast of the image as a whole... trying to unify the colors a little more. And that's my final drawing. Here it is again so you don't have to scroll all the way back up to the top.Hopefully some of that made sense. I apologize to my family and friends who came here for weirdness and got a lesson in not painting. Back to the senseless ramblings next time. I hate trying to make sense for this long.

17 comments:

Adrian Ropp said...

Shane, not only is this a fantastic character design, but you've done a really spiffy job laying out the process for everyone. Hope you don't mind if I link to this post from my blog.

You're a master!

Nikki said...

Shane,

I have gotten hooked to your blog after looking at it from Ken's blog...
It always cracks me up on usually a bad day at work.
Today's post was actually just what I needed... I hate to paint too. Usually spend time coloring my illos which, GOD knows takes forever!
I always ink my artwork and I didn't know that Photoshop would work with my handdrawn outlines.
I am totally working on a piece inspired on how easy you made it sound to color in Photoshop.
Thanks!

Tim Bye said...

I love the character and pose! Great to see some of your process too. Your work is very impressive

Piotr said...

thanks for sharing ur process! terrific job!

Heather D. White said...

WOW!!!!! So awesome to see the entire process you go through for each drawing. For some bizarre reason, I thought you did all of the drawing IN Photoshop or some type of drawing program. Very cool that it's all still pen and paper until you scan it into photoshop. The most interesting part is that you draw the character itself BEFORE deciding the position it will be in. I would never have thought about that. Heck...I even love that first picture of him facing forward. Very intriguing....what an interesting and awesome career. Thanks for sharing the process with us! I am even MORE impressed than I was before.

GhettoFab said...

awesome to see the magic unfold!! Wow Shane thanks a load for sharing! Princess Leia turn out rockin as well. You da man!

Anonymous said...

Dude! Thanks for doing that. I think a lot of folks will benifit. Looks great. Keep in touch.

Jim Rice

Ryan Wood said...

Man, that bear is terrific Shane! The gesture, & proportions are real nice. Thanks for sharin' a bit of your process too, mister.

Sebastien Gallego said...

Yeeeess! A step by step by Shane!
I loved it! it was great to see your process Sir.
This bear is amazing!

flipstudios said...

Shane, this is awesome. Thank you so much for sharing this. For those of us out there that struggle with painting this is gonna help a ton. You explained it better than any teacher I've ever had. I now have to add that to your vast scope of expertise. you're the man Shane.

Andrew

Jarrett said...

Hey Shane. Awesome, awesome Princess Laia. I think I had a geekasm. And as for this tutorial, really good idea. Now I can see into the magic of Mr. Lewis. Awesome bear as well. Always too good. Lates.

Blake Loosli said...

racist!

Matt Decker said...

Oh...So that's what you do.

Todd Oman said...

Awesome tutorial and great bear design. I also hate drawing with a dull pencil and keep my electric sharpener 6 inches away at all times.

Heather Dixon said...

You must have been inspired to write up this tutorial, because I have been laboring in photoshop, trying to figure out how to paint underneath a scanned image. You are my hero. (Plus your stuff is schnazzy.)

Thanks again.

Blogerts said...

Sweeeet. Now we can all be as good as Shane. Oh, wait. No we can't.

Jim said...

I think if you set the top layers (the ink lines) blending mode to multiply, you won't have to delete the white, it'll "disappear", and you can color beneath the lines as if you had deleted the white.

great stuff, how'd you get so darn good!