Character Concept Tutorial

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  03 March 2013
Started on another. Normally I wouldn't put near as much work into the sketch, but this one turned out to be too much fun.

A lot of the details, which were unnecessary at this stage, will start to make sense once they're painted.

Here's an example of where I would start a sketch. I do some wiry looking thumbnails with action and direction of motion in mind. The image below is a "final" rough sketch based on the reference photo I took of myself. After that I usually put the reference away and don't come back to it until I'm working on values.


Last edited by ZombieMariachis : 03 March 2013 at 04:44 AM.
  03 March 2013
Roughed in values.

Rendering a bit of detail and fine tuning values above the line art and rough values layer.

  03 March 2013
Hey Josh thanks for sharing your work in all of its stages. I find it very helpful. I had a question though. You said you don't but much detail in your raw sketches but in this one you did. Do you find it more time consuming to render out a piece with so much detail at an early stage, because your following the lines of the drawing rather then just painting something that's not there and using pure imagination? I ask because I for most part do put in a lot of detail in my work at an early stage and was just wondering if that's a habit I need to break.

Last edited by MattU : 03 March 2013 at 09:56 PM.
  03 March 2013
Thanks MattU, I'm glad you're finding it useful. It's sometimes unpredictable how much line work you're going to need. For me it usually henges on how familiar I am with a subject. But still I try to keep things petty loose for as long as possible. The tighter the line art, the less loose my painting feels. One thing is for certain, I don't start painting until I have a clear image of what I'm working on.

Ultimately you want to create line art that solves the most problems for you. In illustration you're usually working with a specific end goal in mind. So be sure your artistic process is solving problems to get you to that goal.
  03 March 2013
Alright, finally got some time to finish this dude up.

All the ancillary details knocked out and a lot of color work. Color is my weak point, so I usually sneak up on it at the end with saturation adjustments and experiments with colored secondary lighting. Below are all the steps leading up to this one.

Finished "advanced" values.

Roughed in basic colors.

Pretty much everything fully rendered on the "finishing" layer.

  03 March 2013
Trying a litch out this time.

Drew this on my new Surface Pro, which is bloody awesome! I highly recommend. There's one caveat however. For whatever reason Microsoft is still in the process of implementing wintab drivers, which is what Photoshop and many other applications use. So this means no pressure sensitivity yet in those apps. But sketchbook pro is fully functional, which is what I do all my sketching/drawing work in anyway.


Last edited by ZombieMariachis : 03 March 2013 at 03:19 AM.
  03 March 2013
Thanks for taking the time to do these tutorials, they are awesome. I really enjoyed it.

Regarding the Lich sketch. I think the hip width is too similar to the shoulders width. Looks too normal. Maybe you could try to make thinner to get closer to the 0.7 ratio. Even though he is wearing armor I think it is too wide. Might get better as is later but I thought to point it out.

Also his right foot is too much inwards, I think it needs to be a bit more towards us.

But the hand gesture, the face and the wind looks really great at this stage.
  03 March 2013
Thanks for the critique FarisB!

I don't think his hips are too wide, but more likely I have poor armor design going on here. What you're reading as his hips are probably his thighs. Here's the figure drawing under the armor. Looks like I'll be reworking the armor to make it more readable. Be sure to check back and let me know if it improves. Thanks again!


Last edited by ZombieMariachis : 03 March 2013 at 04:21 PM.
  03 March 2013
Thank you for the tutorial, Josh!

I tried to use that technique once but the result wasn't nearly as satisfying as I initially thought it would be because I lacked some, apparently much needed, knowledge. I have to admit that I struggled a lot with making the colored version look real but I guess that was due to me trying to skip some of the steps

I am not into sketching, really, so I tried to render the entire image out of black while gradually adding white to it. And I guess it turned out too dark or something, perhaps indeed that caused the fake look in the end.

I'll try and follow your process next time and see what happens!
Thanks again
Dragons exist if you believe in them!
  03 March 2013
You're welcome Rozichka. Color is difficult for me as well. Make sure you have some simple colors down before you start rendering any final details. That will help with the realism. It's easy to get carried away in the grayscale stages and practically finish the illustration, but you have to fight that urge.

I tinkered with the laying of the armor around his hips and dragged his back leg out a little more. Hopefully it's a tad more suggestive of the figure underneath. Later when I'm painting over the line-art I plan on adding a torn cloth-like sash around his waist that will have a spell book fastened to it. Hopefully that will help establish a more obvious waist-line as well.

For this subject matter I admit that figure drawing is my strong point, and armor and costume design is my weakest. But that's why I'm doing these, I'm determined to get better.

  03 March 2013
Great tutorials. I am especially fond of the dynamism brought by the flying debris in the orc portrait and the upward wind in the lich sketch.

Speaking of the lich, it seems in the figure outline that you've given him a shrivelled waist. It is a nice touch, but comparatively the rest of the body looks quite healthy. I know it won't make a big difference in this particular character with the multiple layers of armour, but it might be nice if we could get the feeling that his limbs and neck are similarly dessicated/damaged. Maybe some armour parts are floating a bit which tells us of the lack of flesh underneath, maybe we see the neck, maybe a torn sleeve reveals part of the arm... I think it could add a lot of character to an otherwise mundane silouhette

Also, since you wish to improve in that particular area, I'd say the shoulder pads are neither very functional, nor in line with the rest of the armour (a bland round shape contrasting with otherwise angular plates). Considering your other works, I'm pretty certain that some research on historical armour or modern day replicas will give you a ton of ideas
  03 March 2013
Its looking good Josh, can't wait to see this in its final stages.
  04 April 2013
the young witch looks a bit aged though
  04 April 2013
Current state of the lich. I plan on tinkering with the floating debris and some of the edges on the armor.

  04 April 2013
I really like where this is going; in particular, the ground flying up and the character's inner glow really do their job of conveying immeasurable power. And the shoulder pads have improved.

If I had to give one last critic on the armour, I'd say that it currently lacks the sheen of metal (it might be painted, admittedly) - a feeling reinforced by its dynamic range, which is roughly the same as that of the cloak.
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