Last year I've worked on a tutorial for 3DTOTAL Publishing's Magazine CHARACTER DESIGN QUARTERLY Issue 20. I had to show how season and lighting can change the mood in a scene with two characters interacting.
A WINTER (AND AUTUMN'S) TALE
Character Design Quarterly Issue 20 from March 2022 Tutorial/Behind the Scenes from page 18 - 31
You can purchase a copy here!
LITTLE ADVENTURERS - WARM FALL SCENE
LITTLE ADVENTURERS - COLD WINTER SCENE
In this article I'm giving the audience a behind the scenes look on how I work. Usually I start by brainstorming ideas and thinking about a scene. After that I start designing the characters while keeping the keywords in mind - if it's autumn/winter, they need to have appropriate outfits in order to stay warm and walk in the cold.
Next I'm doing super rough sketches to figure out a good composition. In the magazine I show you some of the compositions that I didn't pick and I also explain why I skipped them. I will also give you some tipps on drawing the characters in pose and how to make their pose more dynamic and feel alive.
Once I found a composition that I like, I start refining the outlines step by step. Sometimes I draw 2-3x over the original sketch, always trying to make the lines as clean as possible. The clearer your outlines, the better it will look once coloured!
THUMBING THROUGH COLORS
Once the outlines are clean, I start using a super bold brush in order to create rough color thumbnails. I do these super super rough in like 2 minutes just to get a rough overview how colours work together. Sometimes I like to change how much space each color takes on the image to change the mood. It's really important to get the atmosphere right, especially when it comes to seasons. In this article I'm giving you some extra tipps on how to pick nice color palettes.
TESTING VALUES & BLOCKING SHAPES
While doing the color thumbnails I'm also paying attention to values by turning my color palettes and thumbnails grayscale. This way I can see if there's enough variation in brightness and darkness to set shapes apart. You will also notice that the winter scene has a stronger contrast from the kids to the environment due to the bright snow. The autumn scene has a more smooth transition from dark foreground to light background to guide the viewers eye through the image.
Once the values are set, I start blocking all the separate shapes onto layers to make changes much easier later on. I start adding textures with clipping masks after that. In order to create this "hand-drawn" effect, I personally like to use brushes that look like crayon or pencils and draw all those strokes by hand. At the end I'm also experimenting with some filters and do a some color grading to add the final touches.
The CDQ Magazine includes a lot more in-depth tips and tricks that I didn't cover in this blog post, but it also features so many other amazing artists and their work. It's a great source to learn and get inspired from! I also really love that it almost feels like a book with the thick cover paper and the magazine is actually quite big compared to regular magazines. If you haven't read any issue of CDQ, it's definitely worth it!