Aby-a-Day – 28 April 2020: The Maltese Dashiell (Cartoon Tuesday)

Today I finished that special portrait of Dashiell I started almost a month ago. Because Dash is named after the author Dashiell Hammett, who wrote The Maltese Falcon famously portrayed by Humphrey Bogart in the film version, I had an idea I wanted to make real. Above is the fur texture layer along with a neutral grey background.

DashHamFalconShadow

Then I added a shadow of the Maltese Falcon based on one of the two photos of Bogie I used as reference.

DashHamHat

Of course, Sam Spade needs a dashing fedora.

DashHamTrench

And a trench coat.

DashHamFinal

Then the final touch, to give the portrait a real Film Noir feel…the shadows.

DashHamFinalFinal

But something was bothering me. I went back to my other Bogie reference photo and realised what was missing: There is a dark shadow of his hat, and the original background had a shadowy texture. I went back and fixed those two things and…voilà!

DashHamFullsize

However, I generally crop my drawings to a standard size, but I draw on a larger canvas. This is the full-size version. Not really different, apart from the proportioning. It’s such a great feeling to finally get the image out of your head so others can see it.

Aby-a-Day – 21 April 2020: Dash’s portrait project, the colour layers (Cartoon Tuesday)

I’m still working on that special portrait of Dashiell I shared two weeks ago. While it isn’t finished, I have actually got more done that I am posting today. Above is the colour layer, ink layer and whiskers layer.

<DashHamJustColourWIP

This is the only the colour layer, which is underneath the ink layer. Instead of painting inside the lines, I painted under them. It’s a neat technique. This was all done in Procreate using what fur brushes I have there; now I need to add a texture layer (for his ear furnishings and ticking) with my fur brushes in Photoshop, but I think I got his base colouring pretty well. As someone commented last week, getting the markings and colours right on an Aby is not easy!

And, of course is just the Dash part…there’s still the background and the other details to be finished.

Aby-a-Day – 7 April 2020: Dash’s portrait project, a work in progress (Cartoon Tuesday)

I’m working on a special portrait of Dashiell. I don’t want to give away what it is, but I can share these early sketches. I’m actually using a different method of sketching on this drawing, because I want to capture all of his colours. The head model I am using is this photo of Dash that was taken on his first ferry trip from Finland to Sweden. The body will be different.

DashHamColourInk

This is the ink outline (using brown, not black) and the “map” I will use to paint his base colours. I know, it doesn’t look much different from the sketch layers, but trust me, it is.

This is just the Dash part…there’s still the background and the other details to be finished.

Aby-a-Day – 31 Mars 2020: How to Train Your Singapura…finished! (Cartoon Tuesday)

As you remember from last week’s post, I started working on a drawing of Izaak as Toothless the Night Fury from the How to Train Your Dragon films. The first step was the second, clean ink layer. I did something a little different than I usually do, though; I only used black for the outline on his eyes and his tail attachment. On the rest of his outline, I used dark brown, and on his collar, I used blues and silvers. And I finally worked out how the eyedropper tool works in Procreate! You’ll notice I didn’t outline the bones on the wings. I actually did, but then copied them to their own layer. I had an idea.

toothless-zak-undercolour1

toothless-zak-undercolour2

I did the undercolouring in two layers: one of the basic shades, and another on top of that with the eyes and collar colour and the wings and prosthetic tail. I found a marvellous texture brush in Procreate that was perfect for the wings and the tail attachment.

toothless-zak-undercolour3

toothless-zak-undercolour+Ink

Here are the two undercolour layers combined…and then with the ink layer.

toothless-zak-colourInk+wings

Then I worked on the wing details. These are the outlines from the inking…with some transparency, layer enhancements, and…finally, a use for the plastic wrap filter!

toothless-zak-originalbackground

toothless-zak-paintbackground

Then I switched to the background. I found a blank background from the movie art and deleted the bits in the scene I didn’t want. Then I added a paint layer to adapt the scene to what I wanted.

toothless-zak-finalbackground

Then I combined those and ran a few filters.

toothless-zak-transparency

But…when I switched from Procreate to Photoshop and put “Zakless” on the background, I discovered there was a transparency problem.

toothless-zak-transparencyClose

You can’t always see the gaps in colour when you’re working in Procreate on a white background. But I came up with an easy fix.

toothless-zak-opaque

I made a quick solid, opaque figure on a separate layer between the background and the colour layers. This would actually turn out to save me time later on.

toothless-zak-pretexture

Problem solved! Now it’s time for the collar and fur texture.

toothless-zak-collartex

toothless-zak-collartex-close

I did the collar first. I actually used a photo of Alfred’s collar and changed the hue and lightness to get Zak’s blues and lightened the opacity to get the braid pattern. This is on a layer between the second ink and the undercolour. I could have done a similar thing with his tags…but I liked the way I drew them.

toothless-zak-tailscales

Next, the fur texture. You’ve all seen my fur brushes, and I didn’t do anything new or unusual…except this: I found a wicked cool scale brush along with my feather and fur brushes. Never needed to use a scale brush before, and I really like the effect.

toothless-zak-furtex+whiskers

Here’s the finished Zakless, including whiskers and eyeshine.

toothless-zak-texture+background

And here he is with the background.

toothless-zak-final

Add his shadow (made using a copy of the opaque layer I had already made, just black, distorted, translucent and blurred)…and voilà! Here is the finished Zakless!

toothless-zak-final-final

Or is it? After I thought I’d finished him, I got a brainwave on how to improve the eyeshine…with the plastic wrap filter!

toothless-zak-final-finalclose

I think it looks more realistic. I also added a tiny drop shadow to the collar. It’s barely noticeable, but it adds a bit of depth, which I like. Yes…I think he’s finished now.

Aby-a-Day – 10 Mars 2020: The Northuldra (Cartoon Tuesday)

Last week, I posted Izaak as Olaf the snowman from the Frozen movies. But there are some new characters in Frozen 2, and I had two cats who hadn’t been cast yet. Lorelai and Alfred are perfect as the Northuldrian brother and sister Honeymaren and Ryder. As always, I started with a sketch in Procreate.

RoryFreddyhoneymaren_ryder_1stInk

Then I did a preliminary ink outline. I had a LOT of fun with this, because, unlike Zakolaf, I got to draw clothing, too. The Northuldra were based on the Sami people of Northern Scandinavia, and I have long had an interest in them from my SCA days (in fact, that was one of the reasons Björn and I became penpals). Drawing their clothing, and especially the knives (I have a collection of Puukkot, the traditional Finnish utility knife), was awesome.

RoryFreddyhoneymaren_ryder_2ndInk

And then, the clean ink layer. More fun refining the clothing.

RoryFreddyhoneymaren_ryder_flatcolour

Switching to the laptop and Photoshop, I did a flat colour layer.

RoryFreddyhoneymaren_ryder_flatcolourInk

This was done underneath the clean ink layer.

RoryFreddyhoneymaren_ryder_Texture

Then the ticking, and texture on the clothing. This took a long time, because I needed to experiment with fabric textures. For some parts, such as the trim on the neck and shoulders, and the puukkot, I found photos of actual Samí trim and knives, and overlaid and blended them into my drawing.

RoryFreddyhoneymaren_ryder_Knives

You can see how the puukkot are slightly photographic.

RoryFreddyhoneymaren_ryder_Background

Then I switched to the background. As with Zakolaf and the Zakdalorian, I took a generic Frozen 2 background and painted over it.

RoryFreddyhoneymaren_ryder_Texture

As always, on a separate layer, I added the whiskers and eyeshine.

RoryFreddyhoneymaren_ryder_LeavesShadows

And then, their shadows and the obiquitous leaf swirl.

RoryFreddyhoneymaren_ryder_Final

And here’s the final version. As with Zakolaf, I find it a bit dark…but the Enchanted Forest was shrouded in fog and mist, so it’s kind of supposed to be dark.

Aby-a-Day – 3 Mars 2020: Catatonic 2 (Cartoon Tuesday)

You may remember, six years ago, I made this wonderful cartoon with Jacoby, Angel, Kylie and Tessie as Kristoff, Anna, Elsa and Sven the reindeer from Frozen.

Zakolaf-frozen_sketch

Zakolaf-frozen_1stink

Well, of course, Frozen 2 came out last November, which made me revisit my original cartoon. Of course, Kylie and Tessie still live in Boston, and Dashiell can take Jake’s place as Kristoff…but it occurred to me that I now have the perfect cat to play Olaf! Izaak! Of course, Olaf should be a Singapura! I started with a sketch and then a rough ink on my iPad in ProCreate.

Zakolaf-frozen_2ndink

Then I did a clean ink outline.

Zakolaf-frozen_flatcolour

Switching to the laptop and Photoshop, I did a flat colour layer.

Zakolaf-frozen_whiskers

On a separate layer, I added the whiskers and eyeshine.

Zakolaf-frozen_background

Then I switched to the background. I took a generic Frozen 2 background (there are plenty of wallpapers available online) and painted over it, the same way I created the background of the Zakdalorian.

Zakolaf-frozen_leaves

Then I added a swirl of windblown leaves, to give it the feel of the film.

Zakolaf-frozen_noshadow

Then I painted the ticking and Zak’s other markings with my fur brushes.

Zakolaf-frozen_2Final

Finally, I gave Zakolaf a little shadow, to ground him in the scene. I wish this was a little brighter, but that’s just the way this scene is; it’s not as bright as the snow scenes, because it’s autumn. Can’t do much about that.

Oh, and don’t worry…I have characters for Lorelai and Alfred to play. Stay tuned…

Aby-a-Day – 25 Februari 2020: The Zakdalorian again (Cartoon Tuesday)

Last week, I posted a sketch and a preliminary inking of Izaak as The Child (aka Baby Yoda)

Zak_Baby_Yoda_2ndInk

Starting with the shaded ink layer I did last week, I changed it from black to blue-green and did a second, cleaner ink layer.

Zak_Baby_Yoda_2ndInkWhiskers

The whiskers and eyeshine are actually on their own layer. I really like having the whiskers as a separate layer from the rest of the drawing. There’s also a slight outer glow on this layer.

Zak_Baby_Yoda_colouronly

Using the clean ink version, I made a flat colour layer. This layer is about 70% opaque.

Zak_Baby_Yoda_colourtexture

Using the same colours, and following the shading done on the first ink, I added a texture layer, with the fur and ticking and the rough cloth of the robe.

Zak_Baby_Yoda Background

The background is a combination of the original screenshot I based my drawing on, and a painted background using bark and grass brushes, run through the oil painting filter.

Zak_Baby_YodaShadowBacklight

I also added a shadow and backlighting, to capture the feel of the original scene.

Zak_Baby_Yoda_brothsteam

One final, tiny touch: I have a set of steam/smoke brushes. One little stamp at 60% opacity, and…the bone broth is hot!

Zak_Baby_YodaFinal

And here is the final, complete drawing. I am pretty proud of this one!