Developing Concepts and Illustrations

Most of my illustrations are developed in stages.  This gives me a chance to refine the concept, improve the anatomy, and restage if necessary.  I often work in a combination of traditional and digital media- digital gives me the flexibility to create as many layers as necessary to get the sketch right, and allows me to easily cut and resize problem areas.[=

Generally, I do my first sketch in my sketchbook.  My brain just handles conceptualization better if I'm staring at paper rather than a screen.  But once the thumbnail is drawn, I'm free to go digital.  Sometimes I'll take a quick photo of the sketch with my phone and send it to my computer via Discord, sometimes I'll scan it when I'm putting together my monthly Patron sketchbooks- the transfer method doesn't really matter.

Image to the left- thumbnail sketch

Refining the Pose and Sketching Anatomy

Sketching in Clothing and Tightening up Details

Finished Sketch, later printed onto watercolor paper

This isn't the end of the process!  After this stage, I convert my sketch to grayscale and adjust the contrast so that it's just black and white, then use Duotone to convert it to non photo blue.  I then print the bluelines onto the watercolor paper of my choice and either pencil or ink the illustration.  The finished illustration will be in watercolor.

Lately, working this way has become a staple for my standalone illustrations.  Working digitally to develop sketches gives me the flexibility to resize easily, or to rework problem areas, or to clone and copy pieces that work well and that I want to duplicate.

Thumbnail sketch

Refining the Figure

Tightening Up Character Details

Adding Background Details

With the next example, I did a lot of alteration on the basic sketch- moving and resizing things- before committing.
Thumbnail Sketch

I wanted to play with scale a bit- making Naomi seem a bit smaller, and Kara a bit larger, and being able to manipulate things digitally helps with this!

I think this method is particularly helpful for people with tablets and iPads, particularly if they're busy and have a hard time carving out time for art.  It's easier to put it down when necessary or to break the piece up into discrete steps, and you don't feel the pressure to nail it on the first shot.

If you wanna see how these pieces turn out, check out my Instagram!


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