Monday, April 12, 2010

The background

And now a little follow-up on how I do my backgrounds.
The backgrounds in my little zombie blog really only serve to provide some colour for the characters. Some of them are very simple, just dirty blobs of colour. On some, I go for more detail but, in those cases, I find it really increases the time it takes to do them.

And, mostly, the getting the backgrounds done is simply a case of doing them rather than specific methods. But here are the basics.

First, I have my finished character. Now it's possible you might think that I should plan out the character and background together. I probably should. But I don't. It's really the character that's important for me.
From here, I do exactly what I do when drawing the character -

1) The sketch.

In a layer, usually underneath the character, I'll sketch in grey roughly what I'm looking for. Like this -

Just the basics.


2) Basic colour.

In a layer under that one, I fill it with colour. That's in the MORE options in the layer screen. You just select your colour, go into the layer screen and hit MORE over on the right hand side. So I have now got a flat colour with the sketch and character over the top (haven't got a pic of that).

Then I go straight for my speckled brush -

This time, I do go for one as transparent as that. Usually, I like to keep the colours fairly basic. So, with this, I have the main background and then the eggs. The eggs will be a different colour, so I do those separately. First, I get the basic colour down.

Using the colour select tool, I select my background colour and then, by going a bit darker or a bit lighter, or moving off the colour a little, I just build up the colour in the background stroke by stroke. Because I'm using a very transparent brush, it takes quite a few strokes but the benefit is that it all blends fairly nicely that way. Almost cloudy, like this -

3) The details.

Then it's just a case of finishing it off. I use the same brush, only less transparent and a little smaller, and I paint on the bits that are a different colour. In this case, it's really just the eggs. But you can see below that I'll also strengthen the contrasts a little with a few more brush strokes as I go along.

Using that same brush, I go a little finer and a little finer, drawing on the details. I always go for the basic shading first so I can cheat a little - if I have the shading done, I can draw the details with a slight transparency and they'll come out looking shaded too. It's not always the best way but it's certainly the quickest.

And then it's pretty much done.

What I'll want with some of the more detailed ones is to actually fade the background out a little, so the character stands out over any details. That's easy to do. All I do is select the main predominant colour of the background. I get the largest brush possible (still using that speckled one), set it very transparent so it barely shows when I paint with it, and I go over large areas of the image. Then I'll do it again, but only paint the areas a little closer to the character. Then again, even closer.

Doing that a few times just fades the background out a little.

And then I have a finished Easter Bunny zombie -

And that's it.
If I've left anything out or you want me to cover something else, feel free to ask.

Monday, April 5, 2010

How I draw my zombies - the Easter Bunny

A few people have asked in various places about what methods I use when doodling these little zombies so I thought I'd show a bit on how I do them, using the Easter Bunny zombie as an example. They're not exactly fancy, as you'd have seen already, and the methods I use evolved with one primary goal in mind - speed. I'm doing one a day and (as surprising as it may sound) I have a day job, life, etc. so I need to make sure I can meet my zombie quota without too much trouble.

My tools are: one iPod Touch, one copy of the Layers App.

Every one of them is drawn on the iPod with my finger. Of course, anyone with an iPhone can also use the Layers App. The Brushes App is also pretty great but I went with the Brushes App because of the slightly scratchy look I can get from some of the brush choices in that one. It suits the whole zombie thing.

And here's how I do them -

1) The sketch.

Using a transparent grey, I just sketch out what I'm looking for on a layer. I do this very roughly. I'm really only looking for a general guide. Like this -

As crappy as that.

2) The line.

Then, I make a layer above that and draw the outline. I tend to do the main lines with a very thick brush because I like how they look when shown quite small. They could go much smaller, like making an avatar out of them or something, and still be pretty clear.

The brush I use for the outline is this one:

I usually use a very dark brown. Not as harsh as black but does the same job. At the beginning, I varied the line colour a lot but it led to a real inconsistency in the look.

So I draw the line -

That actually looks pretty close to black there. The big thing I have to remember here is to do it on another layer. The amount of times I've done it on the same layer as the grey is ridiculous. So different layer, like this -

3) The basic colour.

At this point, I delete that rough sketch and put a new transparent layer under my line layer for my colour. Using just a basic round brush, I get the main flat colours.

Then I add the most basic of shading. I keep it basic for speed and clarity. Usually, whatever way they are facing is bright, their back end is dark. Like this -

From there, everything else is just about getting the detail and texture.

4) The detail.

I move on to a different brush at this point. The speckled round brush. I find that gives me the best texture, almost dirty, like fingerprints.

With this brush (not as transparent as in that pic above) I use the colour select tool to select the areas of shading and then shift the colour a little darker, blending the changes in tone. I deliberately keep this a little rough, or else I'd lose the texture that brush gives. By adding little darker or lighter dots in places, it gives that slightly dead or sick look. And I add the details - blood, etc.

Really, this is just finishing it off. I usually stick fairly closely to the shading I did in the previous stage. And I end up with a character like this -

And there he is. My little Easter Bunny. The process doesn't really change no matter who I am doing and is always pretty quick. They don't stand up to close scrutiny but, at the size I post them and with the nature of the characters, the rough look works.

There isn't a huge amount to say about how I do the backgrounds but I'll do another post covering that end soon.