Category Archives: Digital Art

MourneQuest Book Cover

Cob - MourneQuest

This is a digital painting I did a while back for Garry McElherron, based on one of his characters, Cob, from his MourneQuest book. As well as The Shimnavore, it was another collaboration with John Farrelly who originally did the pencil sketch, you can see over on John’s website.

Garry has since released the book on Lulu, and he’s used this as the cover illustration, very exciting. I’d advise going over and taking a look. It’s a great read, and seems set to being a best seller soon, once it becomes readily available in your nearest good bookshop. Keep an eye out for it.

Judge Death

Another Dredd fanart sketch, always loved Judge Death, I always found his helmet was much easier to draw than Dredd’s anyway. I was going to do a bit more rendering on this, but I kinda like how flat and understated the cloud is compared to his head, so I’m gonna leave it as is.

Tikky pen on Bristol Board, coloured in Photoshop.

Hexumi Page 4 and 5 Flats

Getting a little more done with the Hexumi comic. I finally managed to get my hands on some blue pencil lead for my Tikky mechanical pencil from my local art shop, which was a nice surprise considering it seems to be so hard to get these days. It’s freed me up a bit since I don’t need to worry about rubbing out the pencils and destroying the paper surface. Also, between doing pages 4 and 5 I bought a pad of Windsor & Newton 250gsm Bristol Board. I’ve read about comic artists using Bristol Board in the past but I’d never managed to get my hands on it, I’ve been using ordinary cartridge paper up to now. It’s great with my G-Pen, runs really smoothly, hence why there’s a bit more detail in the fifth page. The line work has bit less bleed too and I’m finding the inking less of a chore since I’m getting a lot closer to the type of line work I want. I’m looking forward to trying out some watercolour on the Bristol Board to see how well it holds up.

I thought I’d share the flats with you this time round, saying as you haven’t seen any colour from it yet. Trying to keep it quite colourful, since it is aimed towards a younger teen crowd (I think). I’ve got a nice little colour palette gathered up so far for the flats.

But we’ll see how all the pages sit once they’re together (probably in 2015 if I don’t get a move on with it!) Hope you like, let me know!

Painting a Minotaur: Part 3

Woohoo, at last, here’s the third and final part of the Minotaur painting. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out, although I still think I’d have liked to work some more on his face. I also like how the background looks, it really helps to give it a lot of depth. I’ve spent approximately 7 hours on the whole thing. Here’s the final image, let me know what you think…


Woman in a stripy dress

I bought a copy of Artrage a few months ago and have been playing around with it. I really like the pencil tool so thought I’d have a go at doing a bit of sketching.

I found some notes I’d made in the summer while sitting having a cup of coffee in town. I didn’t have anything to draw on so I just made notes instead. The first note I made was ‘-Fat girl strippy dress short black bob’ so that seemed like a good place to start!

And yes, I know I spelt ‘stripy’ wrong, thanks to the blog police (Steve) for pointing that out! 🙂

Painting a Minotaur: Part 2

Here’s part 2 of the Minotaur timelapse. I was hoping there would only be two parts, but I really got sucked into it. One good thing is that I’ll be able to see exactly how long I’ve spent on this from my screen recordings. I’m guessing Part 3 will be the last.

Colouring the Light – Part 3

Once you have the grayscale values done, it’s time to move on to the colouring. You still want to keep it flexible and loose at this stage, to make it easier for quick decisions-making.
Taking your grayscale from the previous stage, pull your blacks down to about 70% using Levels. Then create a new layer on top and set it to Multiply. When you start painting on this layer with colour it will darken what’s below, so pulling the blacks down in the previous step will counter this. Switch your brush to hard round with no pressure and start colouring. Just work in solid, flat colours for now, it will make them easier to change, since you’ll be able to Magic Wand a block of colour. This might take a bit of getting used to getting the colours right, but just play around and you’ll get the hang of it.


I’m not going to go into colour theory here, that’s a whole other set of blog posts and there’s plenty of them around. Work individually on each character and try not to let one influence the other, and play around with skin tones. Even if a colour isn’t working on one character, you can always try it on another. It also helps to keep some coordination within the colour palette for each character if you can.

Once you’re done with the basic colours, you can move on to the final stage of highlighting. Add another layer on top and switch the layer mode to Lighten. You should be able to colour pick beneath where you want to highlight, pull up the lightness and saturation of your picked colour and start painting. Work over the characters, you’ve already added the highlights at the value stage so this shouldn’t take too long. Try adding in a bit of complimentary light to the rim on one side to imply a secondary light source, just to punch the characters out a little more.
You could leave that as the final state but I’ve gone a little further and added a Normal layer and just painted over some areas to blend them in a little better and tidy it all up. I also added in a Colour layer to tweak some of the colours here and there, like the flames coming from the Sorceress’ hands. Then I added a Colour Dodge layer and lightly painted over some of the highlights to bring out more contrast. I also worked over some of the metal areas on that same layer, like the swords and armour, since the Colour Dodge method is great for adding sheen for these types of material.

Once you’re all done, hey presto! You should have a decent set of characters for your portfolio!

Later on, I’ll take two or three of these designs and work them up to a more polished character design with side and back views.

If you have any questions, or even any tips to add to this just pop them in the comments below.

Part One – Embrace the Shadow

Part Two – Lighting the Shadows

Lighting the Shadows – Part 2

Taking the silhouettes and scanning them into Photoshop, you can start working on adding some depth. It is more obvious on some of the silhouettes what type of character they will end up as, but you shouldn’t be afraid to completely change them if an idea comes up, just keep doodling and sculpting it into something you think works. What you shouldn’t do is use reference of any kind at this point, it all has to be loose and come straight from your head, just rely solely on your imagination.

The biggest advantage of working with silhouettes is that you haven’t invested too much time with them yet, so there’s no need to get precious about them. If you compare the original scan you can see I drastically changed the complete design of the sorceress while still keeping the same basic pose. What you also should do at this point though, is use the opportunity to fix any proportion issues.

I just used a round hard brush with pressure set to Opacity and switched back and forward between various sizes. Don’t worry about any textured brushes, just concentrate on filling out the characters and getting your values right. The other thing you should do at this stage is to pull the black of the image down to 50% gray, this will give you the scope to add both highlights and shadow to the figures.

PS POWERUSER TIPS:
d key – Switches the Foreground and Background to black and white respectively.
x key – Toggles the Foreground and Background colours.

Here’s a few stages with a couple of the figures to show you what I mean.

Sorceress silhouette: Click to enlarge

Cowboy silhouette: Click to enlarge

And here is the final set. I’ve given them all names to make them easier to identify, and also to help me remember what direction I want to push them to the finished stage. Next up is colouring.

Click to enlarge

Part One – Embrace the Shadow

Part Three – Colouring the Light

Embrace the Shadow – Part 1

I’ve been doing a lot of other stuff recently, and decided last week that I needed to have a bit of a doodle for myself to loosen up a bit. But, what to do.. what to do!

Well, one way I’ve found if you’re not sure what you want to do, you don’t want to get into anything too long-term or intense, and you like having a go at character design, is to have a go at silhouette doodling. It’s a great way to take the pressure off and relax if you have a bit of artists block too, and it can’t hurt having a bit more character work in your portfolio.

I’m constantly trying to stay off the computer as much as I can, since I spend all day looking at one in work. So I got myself a Sharpie, and to take the roundness off the tip and give a bit of a chisel edge, I sliced the tip off with a scalpel. It wasn’t the cleanest of cuts, but that was a good thing since it made me think differently about what way to hold it to get the shapes I needed. Then I grabbed my sketch pad and started doodling and didn’t stop til I had these 12 little beauties to work with. You can, of course, do this process digitally if you prefer. More on this tomorrow…

Click to enlarge

Part Two – Lighting the Shadows

Part Three – Colouring the Light

Conflicting Kingdoms Set 6

Here’s the final set of cards for now, I’m taking a break for a couple of weeks from them while I get a few other things sorted out, and maybe work on a couple of other things. This set finishes the Konk themed, all five are location cards: a training dojo, a bridge over the waterfall, the air shrine, the Konk’s ‘canteen’, and finally the Konk’s treehouse market. The market was probably my most complicated and detailed card I’ve done, it was a tricky one to plan out.
I first did a couple of colour sketches to figure out the composition and settled on this:

After that I decided to go and build a rough primitive version in 3D, to help me both with the perspective and the lighting and shadows:

I’ve only tried this method once before, but it was a big help with getting the artwork finished quickly and on time, and I was really pleased with how it turned out.
Really looking forward to seeing these printed and part of the deck.

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