Friday, January 28, 2011

Thought Bubble Process

I've spent the last few weeks working on an illustration for this year's Thought Bubble festival in Leeds, England. While I was working out all the details, I remembered a few people asking me if I wouldn't mind showing my process a bit, so I tried to take some snapshots of the picture at various stages of completion.

I'll walk you guys through it.

After doing a few thumbnails and narrowing the ideas down, I did some pencils. At this stage they were still pretty rough, but tight enough to work over. I knew I would be inking the figures, and painting over the background in photoshop so I didn't bother tightening the trees up much.


Then I did some color tests- this step is usually pretty important for me, because it will lay the foundation for the rest of my color work. The colors for this came easily, which was a bit of a surprise. Usually I struggle with colors, but these were pretty straightforward.


Then I went ahead and threw some ink on Snow White and the Wicked Witch, like usual- with a brush and some ink. Pretty straightforward.


After that I worked on painting the background. I call it painting, I guess even though I work in Photoshop I end up approaching it as though I was working on canvas. I start with an underpainting of the basic colors I want to use, selecting from my roughs when it suits me. Then I build it up and move objects into the foreground and background when appropriate.


Now I lay on the figures! They were relatively simple to color, I only used one or two shades to lighten and darken the flat colors. My main objective was to get Snow White to stand out- Originally my idea was to have her be completely black and white, but it just didn't feel finished. So I added red, since I had the idea to add some to the background, and it really grounded the center of the image, and made her pop out without making her look completely removed from her environment.

Also notice on the witch, I colored the linework so the only black you see in the picture is on Snow White. This way the witch and the comics fall into the background a bit.


I wasn't sure about the sapling on the left that I had drawn in my original sketch, but I decided that area was pretty empty and needed a little somethin somethin to pull it together more. I also added the tree behind the witch to fill the space and add another vertical. These were all pieces of my original idea that I had deemed excessive, but thought to bring them back in the end. I guess you should always just go with your gut! I tend to over-think things, and second-guess myself if I work on something for a while, not really a good habit I guess. Anyway this is the final version!


And here is a close-up:



So there you have it! Snow White and the Seven Comics, for Thought Bubble 2011! And if anyone is curious, yes I will be attending :)

15 comments:

Abigail Shaw said...

Seeing your process for this was really enlightening. Great, pieces, by the way!

dylpdx said...

this is some really beautiful work...i saw this the other day and loved it...thank you so much for putting up the how-to or step by step...it's beautiful and inspiring...i also do digital/conventional work...and wasn't sure how acceptable it is to do work in photoshop...the end result, right?

anyway thank you,
dylan

ps: love the girl in the ice

Santiago said...

Thank you for sharing the process, Becky!

(awesome pic, by the way!)

Jay said...

As usual, an awesome job, and a simply wonderful result. A quick question for you - when you scan in your inked artwork, what DPI do you use and what file type do you save the file as? Just curious - I seem to see a lot of different answers to that question.

This piece is so nice that it would make a great poster.

becky cloonan said...

Thanks for stopping by you guys! :) And thanks for all the kind words.

Dylan- for me it's all about the printed result. I don't usually have work in galleries, or have occasion to show my originals, so I have no reason not to use computers to achieve the effects I want. (I still get kind of precious about my comic pages though, hehe)

Jay- I scan at 600 DPI, then I usually color at 400. For my b/w work I convert it to a bitmap at 50% threshold, and save as a tiff with LZW compression. Phew!

Really though it depends on what the client's (or printer's) specs are, but I find b/w at 600 and color at 400 are fine.

I also save multiple copies of everything as PSD's, and the final files I save as tiffs. Phew!

dylpdx said...

hi becky,
i sure hope you didn't think that i was speaking negatively on using photoshop...i just wondered about how published artists viewed it...i think personally it takes just as much talent and know-how to use photoshop as it does to do anything really...the only thing that might be considered "cheating" is the fact that you can save anywhere during your progress, and you can try things and be able to undo...i love using ps...and i don't think lower of one that uses it...i was just curious how pros view it...i've heard people mention it and it was almost like a shameful thing..."everything is hand drawn, i only use photoshop for colouring and effects." not an exact quote, but you get the idea...like you said, it's all about the end results...and your end results are definitely beautiful....also thank you for the info on scanning dpi and such...i was going to ask that too...thank you for your responses.
keep up the wonderful work, and i'll keep reading/beholding the beauty...
pieces,
dylan canfield
vancouver, washington

Daniel Hamilton said...

Neat idea; sweet colours! :D
Aw, I heard about this too late last year! Would really love to attend this year :)

Elia said...

wo!! love love love this...congratulations

Jake Marley said...

Seriously beautiful stuff. Thanks so much for sharing the process!

Brian said...

I love this image. Will this be used for a poster or t-shirt for the convention?

Andy said...

i believe personally it requires just as very much expertise and know-how to utilize photoshop since it does to undertake something really
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