KK, welcome back. Last time I showed you guys how to value sketch and, now, we’re going to explore another method of value sketching that uses silhouettes as a basis. There’s actually not much difference between this method and the previous except that, instead of using darker values on a light canvas to block out shapes, we’re going to be using lighter values against a dark silhouette. Also, unlike the previous method, you start off with a pre-defined shape (somewhat like a filled-in contour drawing) for your entire character/object. That’s not to say it can’t be changed as you go, but you really have to have a solid grasp of the concept before you dive in. So this one is less procedural and more precognitive. To compensate for that, drawing with silhouettes tends to be easier and faster (basically you could just scribble on the canvas in black or use an applet like Alchemy) and also allows an artist to move through various concepts quickly. Don’t like this scribble? Make another one or edit it on the fly. Whereas, with normal value sketching, it takes considerably longer to create a basis for your drawing and longer, still, to decide whether or not you want to commit or start over.
NOTE: this was done in the Group Board, so not really representative of what one can do in a powerful program like GIMP
The reason I didn’t teach line-sketching is because everyone already knows line sketching. It’s the first thing we learn as artists and it’s a habit that’s not necessarily good for you. In fact, people tend to get too comfortable with lines and fail to explore values, colors and form which are all essential to higher-level art. At one point, an artist has to grow out of drawing in lines and realize that things are comprised of shapes, usually swatches of color. That’s not to say you have to abandon lines all together. In fact, a lot of concept artists use line drawings but they have explored and are well-versed in the other methods of drawing as well. So basically what I’m saying is: you need this knowledge to move up in art. Once you have it, feel free to do whatever you prefer.
Ok, so let’s get started!
STEP 1: RENDERING
Okay, so the first step is drawing a silhouette. This step doesn’t need much explanation. As I mentioned before, the greatest benefit of drawing in this method is being able to move through a large number of different sketches in rapid succession. This is because drawing the silhouettes–the foundations off of which you base your finished concept–is far more simple than making full value sketches. They could just be scribbles, if it suits you. But this method does require more precognition in the sense that silhouettes tend to be very vague. Also, the sheer accessibility of drawing these things (like I said, they could just be scribbles) may be overwhelming for an artist who doesn’t have a specific result in mind. If you want something specific, you have to go in with a very strong sense of direction otherwise you’ll get “lost” in the silhouette. Whereas, as you saw in my previous tutorial, value sketches separate the distinct parts by value which offers a little more guidance than just going in blind.
1.) Alright, so: there’s my silhouette. Apparently it’s some kinda avian/insect/dragon hybrid. It’s quick, rough and still rather hard to discern. That’s how I like it. It’s really up to you how “detailed” your silhouette is. Some artists I’ve seen make silhouettes so detailed that they look like stencil drawings. But I personally think that defeats the purpose of “sketching”.
1. a.) Since I taught you how to color using blending modes in the previous installment, I’m going to use a different method to color this concept. What I did here was lay gray (100% opacity) on top of the black to give the silhouette some features and then, using the “select by color” tool, I selected all of the gray areas and colorized them to become a desired color (in this case, maroon). Alternatively, you could’ve just painted maroon on there from the get go. Colorizing things is just as convenient and serve similar purposes to using blending modes. But you should take care when using this tool because it turns everything within the selection into a value of the same hue. For example, if I took the soldier from the previous tutorial, selected the entire canvas and used colorize, the entire concept would then become different shades of red. So be careful or you’ll basically mess up all your colors. It might benefit you more to play with color balancing tools instead. Note: using blending modes and using colorize are not mutually exclusive processes. You can use one or the other, or a combination of both. Most concept artists use both to some degree. I’m just trying to cover them separately so you understand the principles behind each.
1. b.) Not much going on here. Just using a soft brush (or an airbrush, if you prefer) and a texture brush to blend and establish more definition. Some highlights were also added. Excess black was erased.
STEP 2: COLORING
1.) There’s really not much to explain here since I’ve already gone over blending modes. To color this concept, I’m going to use a combination of blending modes and applying colors directly to the canvas. Not so complicated. The only part that requires any explanation is the translucent effect I put on the wings. Basically, I selected the flaps of each wing and applied a spotty texture brush in white, then painted sinews over them. Afterward, I applied an Overlay layer to make it seem like translucent skin. Also, I applied a blue secondary light source from behind just for kicks.
And voila! Here is a finished monster concept, born from a silhouette. Next time I’ll go over drawing environment concepts. See you soon.
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