Keep in mind this was written over a year ago, I don’t use these programs for drawing anymore (I use my iPad now).
Watch the video (with subs) for more details!
I usually do the sketch in my sketchbook, take a photo with my phone and add it as a new layer.
I transform the sketch to fit the canvas in the way I want it to.
I often edit parts (Transform) where I see some proportional or positional mistakes, so I won’t have to do that while doing the lineart. When I think it looks good, I lower the opacity of this layer.
Sometimes I do another sketch over the pencil sketch (new layer), if that first one isn’t detailed enough or needs more.
I like to take my time with the lineart to make it look neat. I like clean lines. I usually use a flat round brush (Lighter Pencil from a pack I bought) for this, I only change the size and density (a lot throughout the process). I try to get each line as perfect as possible, so I go back and forth between stokes and Ctrl+Z.
I try to use thinner and thicker lines to add contrast.
I usually do a one color lineart at first (black), then as I color I add a new layer clipped to the lineart where I color it according to the surrounding colors. I usually use Airbrush to do this, so the lineart won’t have harsh lines between colors and shades.
Recently I do the lineart separately, which makes it easier to fix some parts. I do the face, head shape, hair and clothes on separate layers, so if I have to fix the hair for example, I won’t ruin the face if it touches part of the hair (if that makes sense). Then I group all the lineart layers.
I do the flat colors first. I usually do one single shape for the whole illustration (following the lineart), then add each color as new layer, clipped to that layer.
Base colors separated: skin, hair, each clothing piece, accessories (all the parts I will color individually).
I use G-Pen for the flat colors, and Lighter Pencil for the smaller and softer parts (for example hair strands that doesn’t have a fully closed lineart).
I usually use two types of coloring:
- I do flat shading (Lighter Pencil), then blending it out with either the Blend brush or Blur brush;
- I use Airbrush to add the base shades to see where the darker parts go. I also use this for highlights and blush.
I often start with airbrush, then using that as a guide I add the flat shading starting from that area, then blending it outwards.
It usually takes a long time to find the right colors, when I don’t have the general idea or a reference. I often change it up towards the end if I don’t like the overall picture.
I don’t use nor know color theory, so I can’t help with tips. I just use references and my eyes to determine what looks good together.
- body: I feel like I’ve gotten better and also worse at drawing bodies over the years. Even though I drew many skeletons in school (skipped a few classes towards the end because all we drew was our bony friends), I either forgot the structure or I’m just untalented/lazy as always. Well I’m not gonna be an Illustrator anyway, I also love using references.
I usually avoid drawing legs, that’s another nemesis of mine.
- hair: I’m pretty decent at coloring hair, but it’s not the best way to do it. I barely use things like light source… Maybe when I have a reference, I might do
- skin: my way of coloring skin is very basic, and not realistic. The lack of using a light source also applies here (and on many other parts of my illustrations).
- clothes: I never liked drawing clothes nor coloring them. So I susually do it in the simplest and fastest way. Airbrush, flat shading, blending. Don’t ask me to help you with wrinkles and folds, without reference I’m dead.
- shoes: I can’t draw shoes to save my life… I know I should practice but I never liked practicing anything I’m bad at, I’m way too lazy. Drawing shoes even with a reference is just hell for me.
- hands: As many artists do, I also have problems with hands. I can do pretty decent ones now, but I still have those days when they just never turn out. I use my own hand for reference when I’m stuck.
The hands I usually draw (now) are faulty, I don’t like drawing 3 joints (they make them look weird for some reason) so I only draw two. Except when I’m working with a reference and want to make them look real.
- textures/patterns: It’s fun to use textures/patterns on clothes, or skin and hair, wherever you like.
I usually make my own by taking photos of things I have laying around in my room.
You can use anything, a piece of clothing that has a nice pattern or texture, rhinestones, jewellery, glitter, I also made some with watercolors.
- shine/sparkles: another thing I like to add to my pieces is a lot of shine, and often sparkles. I like to add some light to the edge of a figure from the background color, to make it blend in a little and get rid of the harsh lines. I also add Glow (Layer Blending Mode: Add (Glow)) to parts where I like it, especially jewellery. They get some sparkles too.
- blur: I often use blur to put more focus on the center of an illustration, or just to hide some parts I don’t like (hands, feet, etc.). I make a new layer of the whole illustration (I usually put it in a group, duplicate it then merge that second group), add a Gaussian Blur (sometimes I use Morion Blur too) and using Layer Mask I delete it from the parts I want sharp and only leave it where I want that blur.
- I don’t do detailed backgrounds. There are very few times when I do, but I usually just do a one color background, maybe add a circle or a shape behind the character and that’s it. I like to keep it simple.