April 30, 2012

Q+A: My Artwork and How I Draw

Sorry for taking ages to answer this, Kim. Be warned, this is a picture heavy post!

» Ask Me Anything!

Kimberlee Turley asked: I want to ask about the artwork on your blog. You draw most of it, right? Where/when/how did you learn to draw? What mediums do you use? Do you work on a computer? Can you post a tutorial on the process?

Let's take this one question at a time.

You draw most of it, right?

Yep. Unless stated otherwise, all artwork on my blog and website are my own.

Where/when/how did you learn to draw?

My siblings were pretty artistic, so I started drawing early and often. My eldest sister May was the strongest early influence on my artwork (interestingly, my other sister Kay was the strongest early influence on my writing). May went through a huge comic book phase wherein she introduced me to fanart. That was when I seriously started focusing on anatomy and pencil work.

I took a break from drawing for several years until I fell into anime/manga fandom and, once again, fanart. After seeing the amazing work fanartists were producing digitally, I wanted to try it for myself. I bought Photoshop and a tablet (a Wacom Intuos2 which still works just fine), and then read and attempted tutorial after tutorial after tutorial and drew a ton of crappy art until I grew comfortable with the stylus. Eventually, I became proficient enough to see the errors in my own work and how to fix them. I also bought some anatomy guides and practiced proportions as well as how to draw muscle definition, hands, etc.

In summary, I taught myself how to draw.

In many ways, learning how to draw is like learning how to write. It isn't until you've spent hours upon hours studying others' work and practicing on your own that you develop an "eye" for spotting errors and seeing what works. I'm in no way an expert because I still make plenty of mistakes. In artwork, I'm generally good at picking out problems with proportion and how to fix them. But ask me about composition, perspective, and color palettes, and I'm a lost cause.

I completed this Art Improvement Meme back in January of 2010, which nicely illustrates my progress (at least up until 2009):

(click here for full size)

What mediums do you use? Do you work on a computer?

My preferred tool is still my pencil. But I do inking and colors exclusively on the computer, namely because I just never took the time to learn with traditional media. The best software for inking are openCanvas and Paint Tool SAI. Paint Tool SAI is also great for blending colors, and you can't go wrong with Photoshop.

I love using a pencil even though it doesn't allow me the ctrl+z option :P

Photoshop is great for detail work:

Can you post a tutorial on the process?

I'm not very good at tutorials, but I can give you a bunch of pictures of my process lol

A lot of my drawings start as a pencil sketch. This was a Harry Potter commission from a couple years ago:

Poorly scanned messy pencil sketch:

Completed digital inks with openCanvas:

Scanned pencil sketch:

Digital inks with openCanvas:

Colors with Photoshop and openCanvas:

Crop of a scanned pencil sketch with color overlay added in photoshop:

Crop of the completed digital colors:

When I'm planning an in-depth coloring job like this one, I tend to just skip the inking part completely since I won't want those harsh lines in the final version. This was also colored going back and forth between Photoshop and openCanvas.

For an idea of how big I work, here's a screenshot of the file at full size:
(click here to see it larger)

I always work with a ton of layers so if I mess something up, it doesn't ruin the rest of the picture. To demonstrate, I made the mask layer (circled) invisible so you can see how each piece is on a different layer.

From this post on Drafting and Editing:

If you want to see a step by step speed paint, there's a free video up (presumably for a limited time) here at Tokkun Academy.

So there you have it! Hope this was helpful :) If you have any questions, please ask in the comments.

And don't forget, guys, my Ask Anything is always open!


Eliza Tilton said...

I love your artwork.

Natalie C Parker said...

You do such beautiful work! And this post makes me want to plug in my tablet and start dabbling.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Love your artwork. You always amaze me with how talented you are.

Alleged Author said...

Oh, how I wish I could draw. These are fabulous!

Bluestocking said...

This is really great to see under the hood so to speak!

Sophia Chang said...


And Kay is da photo/stylist bomb

Melanie Conklin said...

I love seeing those examples of OpenCanvas--I also love using it to clean up loose sketches. I'm infatuated with perfect line weight, so it's a match made in heaven. Glad to have found you! Looking forward to seeing more of your work--

you can see my stuff here:

although I primarily write these days.

Cherie Larkins said...

You. Are. So. Awesome! I'm totally crushing on your artwork. O.o

(Btw, I like that you changed the comment setting. I was having a hard time getting the old one to work for me. It's why I haven't been commenting 'cause it wouldn't show--at least, not while I was using my laptop. Sometimes it would work, but most of the time, it didn't.)

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