My agent is putting together a promotional mailing with samples from each her artists. We were asked to include a new piece using an original character from a project we are either developing or want to develop. I have been away from illustrating for the past few months but knowing she wanted full participation motivated me enough to sit down and spend some time drawing again.
Prior to beginning the piece, I had no character or story to speak of whatsoever. But I did have the idea that I wanted to create a series of illustrations taking place on different planets, with some kind of explorer in each scene, so I figured I could turn that into fitting the character prompt.
With very little to go on, I began digitally painting an alien landscape. Then I roughed in a figure---who became an astronaut---who became a young girl. Suddenly I was painting her carrying some kind of creature. And there was an astro dog companion by her side.
As I sketched out the composition, a story began to emerge of a girl named Dara, her dog, Fritz, and the orphaned foundling, a creature called a silkan, that she is determined to save. Pretty crazy that the brainstorming I was doing while drawing lead me to an idea for a graphic novel that I'd actually like to pursue. Imagination is a magical thing.
Here is a peek into the basic process.
1. Rough digital composition pass in Photoshop.
2. Colored pencil drawing on bristol.
I printed the sketch very lightly onto bristol board and drew a clean drawing over it using a dark purple colored pencil.
3. Final colored pencil drawing.
I scanned it into photoshop and brought it back into my original colored sketch file.
4. Final colored painting.
After a day's work, the final digital painting is complete. I had fun playing around with colors and textures. In fact, it was the most fun I've had illustrating in a long while. The process was enjoyable and proved what I have long suspected: I NEED to draw (in colored pencil) FIRST and color the image digitally. It's the only way I can harness what I am best at, which is line work made of real pencil on paper.