Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Making Wonderland in Color

I've started doing some experimenting/testing/rough-drafting with how I want to color the paper dolls. I had initially thought I'd make the colors vibrant, and then use a smoothing tool in Photoshop so that it was well-blended and painterly... thus erasing all traces of pencil lines and sketchiness.

Now I'm thinking I'd like to add just soft color tinting and keep my rough pencil lines visible underneath so that they look more hand-drawn and like vintage children's book illustrations (another way of saying that it DOESN'T look like it went through Photoshop). It's always against my nature to leave something a bit rough looking, though. If there was any useful advice I took away from my professors in art school it was that "When it looks finished, you need to feel done... and when you feel done it needs to look finished".

pencil sketch of Alice - Alice in Wonderland These are vague guidelines, but a useful question to ask yourself at these moments (when it's tempting to make EVERY form of media look like paint) is "Am I done? I feel done. Sure... I'm done."

No one tells you when you're thinking about becoming an artist how much shrugging is involved or how much a healthy bent towards laziness can keep you from overworking a drawing into 'boringness'.

Sure. That looks ok. Shrug.

Rarely in my life have I stepped back from something I've been working on and felt the need to pump my fist in the air and scream "YEAH!!! PERFECT!!! I DOMINATED THAT PIECE OF PAPER!!" Most of the time it's just a lot of quiet head-tilting and squinting and a gentle voice in my head murmuring "Yeah... it's done... sure. Go get a snack."

Now that I've figured the coloring style out for Alice - it's time to do it more neatly and for real. Where this headshot took about 15 minutes, I'll probably spend three times that long when I'm doing it for the final product. (I'm already unhappy with how gray I made her blonde hair.)

That's going to be my Tuesday night. That and watching "So You Think You can Dance" and possibly eating chinese.


  1. Are you drawing these by hand or is this computer based? Either way, I think she looks great.

  2. Yeah - sketching them by hand using just pencil. Then I'm scanning them into the computer and using the airbrushing tool in Photoshop to layer color over the top of the pencil sketch, keeping everything at about 10-20% transparency. Then I go in and touch it up with the eraser tool to make sure the dark lines show through well (pupils, shadows, etc.)

  3. I have to admit that I read the posts out of order, and read this one first (because it was the first one I saw). :) Oops. Alice is beautiful! I can't wait to see what you come up with (but don't envy the time and effort I'm sure it will take you).