Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Cosmic Dust, and step by step

So before I start, let me talk a little but the girl. A good friend pointed out that she looks like the grown up version of my flower girls, and that she looked a little unpleasant from all the dotting and the extra lines around her eyes. 

'Sun damaged', or if you want to go romantically, 'Sun kissed' is what I was going for with her. Lately, I've started to adore character designs with deep inset eye lines, and I've always thought freckles were nice on any kind of skin tone. You're not going to look like your teen days forever, might as well embrace all the wrinkles and sunspots! I think I lost that feel when I started colouring, but that was the intention I set as I started drawing her on paper :)

With the colours, I wanted to go for- end of summer vibe, little lonely silhouette with atmospheric nature background. ....Like this song by Naotarō Moriyama, except with more of the woodstock/indie feel. I like summer. But I love the end of summer~autumn feel. I'll stop the rambles and go on with how I created the image!  

So first of all, set up your line art. 
(I drew her in 0.05 copic multi-liner on 150gsm sketchbook paper. Original about 10x15.)

1. I scanned her in at 300dpi, and got her cleaned up in Photoshop CS3. Although you could do this on pretty much any drawing software. Just make sure it has an ample amount of layer blending options! 
2. Started with simple colour blocking and added bits of light and shadow. (Forgot to separate this step, whoops!) But you get the idea :) I kept it super simple since I was just experimenting. I tried to stick to a colour swatch, but didn't really work. But it's good to have an idea before you start colouring to get the overall mood and setting.
3. Texture time! I've overlayed a watercolour stock I've painted up for to get the hazy, dreamy look. 
4. She was looking a little washed out, so I added couple of colour layers and played around with the layer options, curve, and saturation. I still wasn't sure about the colour palette, so there was lots of subtle hue changes through out the process.
5. This is a good trick for drawers of mystics and magical :P (If you haven't already known so of course!) You copy 4, and apply a gaussian blur, apply the amount of pixel blur you wish (about 3 for mine?) and set an appropriate layer option. It's annoyingly subtle, but every little subtleness adds up at the end I think. Added bonus if you can get each of the subtleness in the least amount of time!

On with the background!

1. I really didn't like the top of her head, so I cropped the figure into a landscape frame. It would have been a better composition if I had shifted her more to the right (using the rule of third, should have shifted until her left eye was around into the 2/3 of the frame. Or alternatively, centre the dominant eye to the middle.) Added the background picture using the bg from this photo taken by the amazing photographer from Rachel May Photography :) (The feel of the photo reminded me of 'end of the summer' feel, which was what I was going for from the start. Perfect.) Since it's already a bokeh background, I didn't worry too much about getting pixelated. I stretched it and added couple of textures on to it. 
2. Coloured in the shading for the girl. Since the light source is from the back, I gave the girl a light silhouette look. 
3. Adjusting the saturation and hue again. I wanted a muted matte look, but saturation seemed too high so I kept editing. Edited the background a little - desaturated, and adjusted the photo on the top right corner. 
4. Comes the fun yet endless possibilities of Photoshop! Seriously, the stages from this step is all up to you and what you want to convey with the picture. Here I  went for a dramatic look by colour grading, but I didn't think it suited what I wanted to do with it.
5. Desaturated a little. More colour grading.
6. Merged 4&5 into one image. Added a layer of grey to the background, and brown to the whole picture. Also softened the lighting around the girl to a warmer colour. Finally finished! 

I guess I could have gone further, but you need to stop somewhere otherwise you'll either go over board, or you'll never finish. 

So, that turned out to be much longer than I intended! Hope this helped anyone at all. I basically learnt 90% of everything I know from these tutorials, and will continuously learn from them. It would be nice to pay it forward by helping anyone who is looking into start digital colouring.

There was loads of trial and error between the steps. Like, it would have been 20 step by step explanatory guide if I didn't condense it. What I'm trying to say is that most of the stuff works through trial and error, especially if you're still exploring your style and technique.  I think the main idea is just have fun and go with your gut feeling :)

Apologies for the grammar. That was never my strong point, and I usually write as if I'm talking. Something I always get called out for by native speakers in real life... But hey, this whole blog is supposed to be casual, so just pretend that a friend is talking all these steps to you on a lazy Sunday afternoon or something :) 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Winter critters

They're finally painted, scanned, and cleaned!

Actually they were done for a while, but I didn't get the chance to scan them in since I had guests from Japan over for about three weeks. So much fun discovering the local areas, but I didn't draw much all in that time. But all good, I just drew up enough line arts to keep me company for good couple of weeks haha.

I felt unnaturally calm and happy when I was drawing and painting the mice... I'm going to keep drawing them as side thing.

My favourites are the one with the safety pin and the one with the acorn :) Who's your favourite?

I've...always wanted to draw an army of characters and just lined them up. Yohoho, got that ticked off the list!

Thursday, March 12, 2015


Have you heard about the recent Greyhound racing investigation conducted by Animal Liberation Queensland and Animals Australia?

Which side am I on?

Completely with the hounds and ALQ. I don't mind if I'm labelled as an animal/vegan nut (fyi I'm not vegan...but that's a whole different can of worms for another day.) No, I haven't been brought up in an environment where greyhound racing is more familiar to the community. I don't have first-hand contact with the trainers and other related people. And no, I haven't been able to physically help the campaign besides drawing little illustrations for ALQ.

But I do think it's completely unnecessary.

Whatever side you're on, you can't justify the unethical treatments of the 'live baits'. Not to mention the thousands of euthanized dogs every year.

Read more of the investigation, and sign the petitions here:

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Winter Clothes (even though it's the middle of the summer here)

Oh hi. Its 2015 already?

Happy new year :P

The top picture is just the gif version of the previous post. I truly love illustration. I love how you can set the entire story, and scene, and characters, and mood, and everything in just a picture. But I do love animation too. Being able to move the lines you've created from nothingness is pretty amazing. It also requires different set of skills from still drawings. Much more to learn.


I was in Japan for the past two months and a bit!
Will post about that a little later...


I've been reading a lot of psychological thrillers lately. Both novels and manga. One of the stories that struck me deeply was 'Nijigahara Holograph' by Inio Asano. (A random buy while waiting for the train when I was still in Japan. Best, buy, ever.) I had to read it at least 3 times to truly understand what on earth was going on, but boy oh boy. The story is set in two different chronological orders, which gets mingled and tangled up as the story progresses. Just describing in couple of words, the style is mesmerizing, the story is confusing, and content is plain disturbing.

So obviously, I needed a break from the depressing/disturbing stories. 

How do you get a break from it?

...Draw little mice in fluffy winter wear. 


Also, I really don't know why I hadn't used gauche acrylics before. Because honestly, it truly is the ideal consistency I've been looking for. I guess the years of practise with acrylics, markers, pencils, and water colour really have helped my skills over the years...and I can appreciate the wonders of gauche only because I've found the lacking element in those said medium. One thing to note: the colours don't blend very well, so you need to get a paint tube of exact hue you're after.