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Artist Resources Tools of the Trade - An Artist's Resource Thread

Discussion in 'Fan Art' started by HanSolo29, Feb 24, 2011.

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  1. HanSolo29 Manager Emeritus + Official Star Wars Artist

    Member Since:
    Apr 13, 2001
    star 6
    Welcome artists and fans!

    This thread is designed for artists and fans to kick back and swap stories and answer questions about art in general. Have a particular technique you want to share with everyone or maybe a step by step tutorial of how you created your latest masterpiece? Share it here! The goal of this thread is to help each other out and provide feedback and support to others throughout the creative process.

    As the thread grows, I will add an index to the first post to keep things organize and provide instant access to popular tutorials and bits of advice. Both traditional and digital(and beyond) will be welcomed here, so don't be shy!

    Enjoy and if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask! :)
  2. HanSolo29 Manager Emeritus + Official Star Wars Artist

    Member Since:
    Apr 13, 2001
    star 6
    Placeholder for index
  3. Ceillean Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 13, 2001
    star 5
    Oh this is great!

    And my first question, how to draw decent looking hair?

    I'd be eternally greatful for some hints and a step by step...guide, I guess. [face_batting]
  4. Iverna Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 20, 2008
    star 4
    Okay, I have exactly one thing to share so far, which is a realism tutorial I did a while ago: namely this one. It's more a progress report than a how-to guide though. But I tried to give as much advice and tips in there as I could, so maybe someone might find it helpful.

    As regards drawing hair, I think FalconFan did a tutorial on that once, it's somewhere in her thread if I recall right? And I'm up for making one as well, I find hair reasonably easy to do actually. Any specific hair styles or issues you need help with? If so let me know and I'll try to address them. Just give me a while to draw, scan, and put it all together. :)
  5. Iverna Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 20, 2008
    star 4
    All right, so here's my take on how to draw hair. I put these sketches together very quickly today, so they are not very detailed. On the other hand, when it comes to drawing really realistic, detailed hair, you can just take a references and draw exactly what you see... in a way that's a lot easier than actually drawing hair by yourself.

    There are two big, big things to keep in mind when drawing hair. One is that it's all basically just lines; for short hair it's short lines, for messy hair it's messy lines, for straight hair it's neater lines. Light and shadow are the trick to getting it all to look like hair, nothing else.

    And the other thing to keep in mind is that hair is always (or at least usually) on someone's head, and heads are round, and it's very important to pay attention to how that will affect the flow and fall of the hair. Hair will follow the shape of the skull and the call of gravity; always keep that in mind!

    Oh, and I'll be sticking to dark hair for this. Blond hair is generally harder, so let's not start with that. The first example is a freehand drawing without a reference.

    Hair without a reference

    1. Before you start drawing any hair at all, you have to know where it goes! I always start by drawing the face. Some people start with the circles and lines for proportions; I'll be honest, I drew them in afterwards. They're important, though.


    You need to know two things here: the curve of the skull, and the hair line. This varies from person to person, but the basic shape is always the same. For different head positions and perspectives, have a look at this page I found on the 'net.

    2. Sketch in very roughly where the actual hair goes. If there's going to be a parting in it, start by sketching that in.


    Hair never ever sticks right to the skull, so allow for that bit of lift by drawing the lines above the skull line. Same goes for the part; I drew in the line where the roots part, but also the line which you'll see; the hair will actually hide the root line. It's down to perspective... make sense?
    At the front, the hair, when it's long like this, falls over the hairline and around the face. The reason why it falls like that is that the face isn't flat.

    3. Start figuring out where the curls will fall. I've also added some shading in the parting, to make that clear. It's a good place to start when you're trying to figure out how the hair falls. All the lines still follow those of the skull - not exactly, since hair has a tendency to fall out of place, but roughly.


    As for the curls, they're pretty much random. I try to offset them so that I don't have two the same right beside each other. There's a lot you can do just with that, so try it out. Hair always looks more real when it's not 100% neat, and varying the lines will do that.
    And yes, her hair is wavy, but the curls only start, more or less, ?below? the skull; as long as the hair is still following the curve of the skull, even wavy hair will be fairly straight.

    4. Starting to shade now. Here's where the light source starts getting important; I've got it coming from the front, as if we're shining the light at here, and slightly from the top. So there'll be light reflected off the top of her head.


    When it comes to the curls, it's all more or less random. Again, I try to vary it so that I don't have dark areas beside each other. Shading part of a curl dark, then leaving a lighter part, then doing darker again, will give it a 3D appearance. Keep your pencil strokes loose; if they criss-cross a bit, the hair will end up looking less neat, but usually that's exactly how hair looks.

    5. Once you've figured out where light and dark areas are, deepen them. Fill in th
  6. Iverna Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 20, 2008
    star 4
    Drawing with a reference is slightly easier, because you have something to orient yourself by, but also harder because you have something to compare your drawing to. But overall, I think, it's easier. So, I need a reference. Let's go with Han Solo. Why not. It's been more than a week since I've drawn him.

    Hair with a reference

    Here's the reference, first of all:


    It's a pretty good reference for the purposes of this - not too detailed, and plenty of contrast, which always makes things easier. And now that we have that sorted, let's go!

    1. I draw the face, and usually I just draw the hair right on top of it, but the point here is to show you guys stuff, so I'll draw in guidelines first.


    Same circle as before, passing just under the nose, to determine where the skull line is. He looks kinda weird like that, doesn't he?

    2. Because I have a reference this time, I can get straight to the point. What I look for at this stage is shapes and the very basic lines the hair follows.


    On the left side, I've already done a bit of shading and so on, on the right I've literally only sketched in the outline of his hair. Notice how much over the skull line it goes (and it'll end up being more than that, I didn't get it quite right initially, but that doesn't matter). So, yes, notice the shapes that the shadows make, and sketch those out. And try to do it in such a way that you're also following the hair lines... no one has actual triangles in their hair.

    3. Moving over to the right and sketching in more shapes and lines. Since this is Han, the lines I drew at this stage are a bit too neat and straight, but not to worry, I can fix that later.


    Basically what you're trying to do at this point is get an idea for how the hair falls, and where light and shadow are. Light and shadow are the most important thing, really. If you get those right, you can scribble as much as you like and it'll still look like hair.

    4. Time to deepen the shadows, define them a bit better, and add some scruffiness by criss-crossing lines and scribbling as well as adding flyaway hairs around the outside.


    It's all just scribbles, really, because this isn't a very detailed drawing. For more detailed drawings, the scribbles get more controlled, that's the only real difference. The trick is to vary light and shadow a bit, even say in a dark area, so you get a bit of variety. That'll make it look more realistic, and gives the overall impression of hair.
  7. Iverna Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 20, 2008
    star 4
    Okay, finally, I wanted to show a very different styles in slightly less detail, so I drew curls, short hair, straight hair, a braid, and a girl with a ponytail. This is all pretty rough, the point is just to give you an idea. If you want more specifics or more detail on these - or other - styles, just ask.

    Hair styles

    1. Again, first off, I outline:


    Already trying to follow the lines of the hair, but this is all very faint and very basic at this stage. With the curls, again, try to vary them so you don't get them all exactly the same and beside each other. It's sort of like a random pattern thing; you see one curving this way, draw one next to it curving the other way.

    2. The next step is to start figuring out where light and shadow goes:


    Notice that with the curls and the braid both, you get the 3D, curved look by shading the start and end of the curl or part, and leaving the middle lighter. With the short hair, it's important to keep your strokes short AND to vary the direction slightly - you can even scribble properly - because otherwise it may end up looking longer than you wanted. Short hair usually sticks out from the skull, which is hard to render on a page. I find it easiest to just vary the stroke directions slightly, and scribble. Also, remember to vary light and darkness; I do that more or less randomly. That also gives the illusion of depth, and a bit of messiness that you'll always get with hair. The trick for straight hair, on the other hand, is long, even strokes - vary direction slightly, but not haphazardly, always keep a few strands together doing in the same direction. Keep the strokes soft and let light and shadow blend together. And for the ponytail, where the hair is pulled back - it's not pulled STRAIGHT back. It still follows the contours of the skull - that's REALLY important. It also, if you've ever seen hair in a ponytail, won't be 100% neat unless it was done in a salon with tons of spray and gel. So again, vary the strokes slightly.

    3. Finally, you deepen the shadows and add detail:


    In the middle of the braid, you can't even see the hair lines anymore, but that's okay; it still looks like a hair braid, right? With the short hair, there's a lot of scribles by now, but that gives the impression that it's actually short hair which isn't plastered to the skull - just like it should. Straight hair is hard to draw, at least I find it so, because you get less opportunity for adding texture and light and shadow. But it can be done. For straight hair, you should keep your strokes fairly even - but not EXACTLY even - and soft. Let them blend together to create light and dark, and remember your light source. It's more important here; with curls, you can get away with fairly random dark and light, but straight hair will mirror it fairly directly. And finally, with the ponytail style, remember your light source as well. In my sketch, the light comes from above and in front, so there's a lighter area towards the front of her head, growing fainter towards the side and the back.

    So, really, what's important for drawing hair is:

    1) getting light and shadow in there by looking at the shapes that they make if you have a reference (or by essentially making them up if you don't),
    2) using the right pencil strokes for the hair you're drawing (short for short, messy for messy, neater for straight, etc),
    3) keeping your strokes loose and light at first, then deepening and defining them more once you figured out where they need to go, and
    4) varying your strokes enough (length and direction) that it adds variety and makes it look like realistic hair.

    If you want to look at more examples of drawn hair:

    Details from "Sum Of Their Parts", with straight and curly hair; [link
  8. Ceillean Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 13, 2001
    star 5
    This is awesome, Iverna! Thanks so much! [:D]
  9. XJapanRoX Official Star Wars Artist

    Member Since:
    Dec 5, 2004
    star 2
    Nice! Here's a tutorial I did a few months ago on how I do my digital sketch cards, start to finish, all digital. You'll need Photoshop CS 1 or higher, and a tablet of some sort (I use a Cintiq). Hope you enjoy!

  10. AzureAngel2 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 14, 2005
    star 6
    Wow this is an exciting new thread with great impulses and brilliant artists who explain exactly what they do & how.


    Even I was able to learn a lot here. Iverna, you are a mircale.
  11. earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 21, 2006
    star 6
    here an oil tutorial

    the basic colors
    eyes and more
    hair and clothes
    more details
    background and completed
  12. Tarsier Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2005
    star 3
    Awesome tutorials!

    I'll definitely be looking at your tutorial next time I try to draw hair, Iverna. Do you have any tips on animal fur?

    XJapanRoX - The tutorial looks great! A bit above my head right now, but I'll definitely have to try it out sometime.

    earlybird-obi-wan - I love seeing the details emerge as the work progresses.

    Thanks for sharing, everyone!
  13. Iverna Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 20, 2008
    star 4
    Glad it's been helpful guys, that's great! [:D]

    Tarsier - heh, I actually just finished drawing my little cat, so good timing. ;) Fur is similar to hair in that the same, or very similar, drawing techniques work for creating the texture. Short strokes, generally, and close together... more blended for soft fur, harsher and more contrast for a coarser look. Again it's important to look at the direction(s) it lies, and vary your stroke directions slightly to give it more depth.

    When deviantART decides to work for me again, I'll upload my new drawing and share it in my thread, that might show you a bit better. I have a few animal drawings in my dA gallery already - http://svenjaliv.deviantart.com/gallery/967309 - and if you look closely at the pencil strokes it might give you a better idea of what I'm talking about?
  14. Iverna Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 20, 2008
    star 4
    Just wanted to bump this one back past all the spam as well. Sheesh! *lol*
  15. earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 21, 2006
    star 6
    A begin of an oil tutorial

    First a drawing for just the figures


    For the oilpainting a large piece of plating is taken.
    Blues and white and brown make the background.
    Figures are painted in red, brown and dark brown.
    The second layer is shown here.

    White, yellow, yellow ochre, red, umber, vanDyke brown, burnt siena are used for the faces to get skin tones and hair.

    The part shown is A4 (size my scanner can do) As the painting develops pics will be taken with my camera
  16. Iverna Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 20, 2008
    star 4
    I remembered to take WIP shots of my recent drawing, and put them together to make a sort of tutorial, just outlining my process and what I did when. You can see it by following this link - Butterfly Fairies WIP

    And this is what the finished version looks like:

    (click here for full view)
  17. earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 21, 2006
    star 6
    Loved the fairies and the tutorial

    Here is the second part.
    Rainy weather and about six hours of doing faces. The rest of the paint went in the background after I had to stop.

  18. earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 21, 2006
    star 6
    More work on the faces, hands and clothes and first pieces of background (rocks first and the waterfall in general outline with black, blue and green mixed with yellow.


  19. earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 21, 2006
    star 6
    work on the background adding the water and greenery and some work on the clothes

  20. earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 21, 2006
    star 6
    Almost finished. Light, textures in the clothes and more water and greenery
    but with the falls and depth something had to change and that lead today to the finished painting taken on cam outside in my garden


    That's oils:) you can change everything
  21. AzureAngel2 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 14, 2005
    star 6
    Great to see art 'growing' like a flower!

    Thanks bird.
  22. Corellian_Outrider Admin FF | Art Curator | Oceania RSA | CR of NSW

    Member Since:
    Mar 9, 2002
    star 5
    It's amazing watching an artwork come to life.

    Thank you for sharing your processes Iverna and Earlybird-Obi-Wan, they are beautiful :)
  23. Jedi_Lover Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Nov 1, 2004
    star 5
    I had a question for anybody using the Mac Lion OS 10.7. I just purchased Painter 12 and it has been crashing on me. Which is really frustrating when you spend an hour drawing and then it disappears on you. I went to Corel and downloaded all of their Painter 12 patches, but I am not sure it helped since the Painter wouldn't always crash. Has anybody else had any difficulty with the new Lion system on Mac and using art programs?
  24. TrakNar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 4, 2011
    star 5
    I'm a PC user (not cool (rich) enough to use a Mac), and I haven't used those programs, so I can't help you there.

    Anywho... Time for my attempt at a painting method that I use...

    Earlier this week, I decided to paint Yoda, and thus, I painted this:


    So, how did I get from a blank canvas to that? Well, four or five days of work, in spans of five-hour sittings.

    One of the very first things I did, once I found my reference, was do a background wash of green-brown. Use a huge brush for this! Yep, that relatively big brush that your grandpa has in the garage. Then, using a photo of Yoda as a shading and posture reference, I used a painting method that I've seen termed as "spot the blacks." Essentially, I rendered Yoda entirely in black and white. Flat brush with a round head for this.


    Now, back in the day, I felt this to be a needless step, but trust me, it is HUGELY helpful. My Zuckuss painting was painted using this method. Yep, I rendered him and all his detail in black and white, first. In fact, he was the first to use this method and compared to things I have done in the past, when I started rendering everything in black and white first, the difference is like night and day, so I highly recommend this step.

    After I rendered the image in monochrome, I let it dry, then applied a thin color wash. This thin coat of paint allowed my previous shading to show through, and then I could use it as a guide.


    After I did the color wash, I started on shading. Using my previous monochrome painting as I guide, I deepened and darkened the shading and did some texturing, referencing to a photo of Yoda. I then added highlights and painted in his eyes.


    I then did some more texturing and tweaks here and there until I was satisfied. I used a spotter for the texturing, relatively fine. Don't paint the hair in, yet! The hair is the absolute last thing that will be added!

    Next... I started on the robe, again using my previous monochrome painting as a shading reference.


    Using the photo reference, I began to texture the robe. At this point, I added some loose strings and bits of fuzzballs. Then, I noticed that Yoda's arms seemed... odd. Granted, the puppet actually has no arms under the robe, but for the painting, that just didn't look right to me.


    So, I fix that by tweaking the shading and highlights. I also use this time to further texture the robe, shade the underclothes, and shade the cane. For the robe texturing, I used a thick, round liner, slightly wet. For most of the shading, I dry-brush it in to blend it and add texture. I used a flat brush with a rounded head, 08 size, if I recall.


    Then, just as I did with Yoda, I render the background in black and white and apply a thin color wash. Now, ideally, you should do the background first. I tend to work backwards, but as long as it produces the same result in the end, then does it really matter how you got to it?


    I deepen the shading, add highlights and texture and begin to paint the mist. The mist is done with a dry brush. Again, I used the flat brush with a round head. Mainly, it was a lot of playing around until it looked right. Some foliage in the background and the moss on the ground was done with a slightly-wet fan brush. Make sure that the background is relatively muted, else it will look busy. The focus is Yoda, not the giant tree in the background.

    You'll notice that, at this point, Yoda is still bald. The hair is the very last thing I will add.


    Now, th
  25. earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 21, 2006
    star 6
    Impressive and what kind of paint did you use?
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