Drawing original characters 18+

I was thinking… should I go English with this one? When it comes to specific topics I switch to foreign language for reasons unknown. Let’s try. So I’m going to describe the process behind the digital painting. It is everchanging challenge.

I bought me the tiniest drawing tablet a year ago. Since then I didn’t do much with it so it will show, bear with me. I also wrote several stories and played with several topics along with it. This was all new. I rediscovered the old passions as far as my drawing and writing go. And I had to at least try to draw a specific scene from a story.

And I chose the worst of the times for it, as interwebs nowadays are heavily censored and artists are altogether harassed by bullies (now you see why I spent so much time in the woods, touching flowers).

Now with all the knowledge I’ll proceed to my artsy attempt to draw some decent scene. They are both boys, one of them vampire, they’re also naked and somewhat covered in blood. Include the overall flatness and wrestling with anatomy, which is my arch-enemy and you know already if you want to see more or not. Feel free. You have been warned.

I got some ideas, but since I cannot do any dynamics and cool angles yet I chose the top view of the scene. I planned for heads and some hands, clothes on, but as I went I thought it might be a great idea to try to draw at least to the hips and below, without protective layers (poor poor guys, I’m really sorry how it turned out). I sketched the stick characters in both their positions and played with it, positioning the stick guys further, erasing here and there and so on. Sometimes I draw some raw sketches on paper and then take a photo, which I skipped this time.

Stickman as a basic setup.
Stickman as a basic setup.

Then I checked some reference pictures of the male body. There are some great shots of males for artists. I didn’t find a specific position and it can get very time consuming, so I went feral instead, resized the canvas and soldiered on. The process is still very slow for me, but I don’t mind. The phase of drawing the upper body, repositioning hands and resizing different parts is very important. I also flip the image mirror wise to see what is wrong. When I feel overwhelmed, I take some rest, eat something or leave it for another day, refreshing the eye and the last brain cell left.

Drawing face and basic position of hands.
Drawing face and basic position of hands.

I’ll show you the process of making a stickman into almost real character in the few screenshots I took. There will be some changes later, as I was thinking it over again. I draw many lines until it feels somewhat right for me. Don’t be afraid to draw and redraw. I’m fond of using layers, but some people prefer only one layer. I cannot do that and I need everyone on a separate layer. I also backup the sketch as I go, because once I finish sketching, I’ll erase some parts, as they get covered with the other guy’s body.

Stickman and first sketch over it.
Stickman and first sketch over it.

After the repositioning, redrawing and tinkering I start to paint cleaner lineart or inking. When I feel like keeping the lineart on the final image I try hard to go for smooth lines. It doesn’t have to be perfect and it is good for practise and patience. It also took me several hours. You will see I used the light blue colour and purple colour for raw sketch, black colour for inking one guy and red colour for inking another guy. I’ll paint it black later, with locked alpha. I use several colours to differentiate lines when zoomed in. I also switch layer visibility on or off or change the opacity of the layers below as I go, to suit my needs. I post the final lineart and coloured sketches below it somewhere around here.

Inking the first guy. The other is sketched over him.
Inking the first guy. The other is sketched over him.
Basic blue sketch and inked characters.
Basic blue sketch and inked characters.
Inked characters without the basic sketch below.
Inked characters without the basic sketch below.
All the sketches so far.
All the sketches so far.

I made some changes to the lines and started colouring the first character. I went for lighting as in my previous drawing of the Hannigram scene. The skin is darker with lighter parts on the borders, so it looks like the scene is lit from the sides and below. And here I need to say that colouring and lighting a scene is yet another level. It needs some practice and patience. I use mostly airbrush, carefully shaping muscles, bones, giving him a third dimension feel. It is very modest as I don’t want to overdo this part. Once I manage the anatomy and muscle groups, I can go for more prominent shapes, but I’m not there yet. So I have the basic skin layer and I have another layer for highlights, for shadows, for sweat et cetera. I also separate more delicate highlights and shadows into their own layers. The eyes have several layers on their own. I’ll show you the basic skin layer with the basic highlight layer above it. In such a phase the image looks weird and eerie.

Basic skin tones.
Basic skin tones.

With hair I start with a darker background and paint lighter and lighter hair above it. Same goes for sheet folds. I also add more shadows and highlights on every object in the scene. The blood itself is one layer, with darker areas and lighter highlights at drops. I still use very basic pen brush and airbrush of various sizes and opacity. Erasing painted areas is really tricky in MediBang and I didn’t find a good solution so I have to be careful not to mess up, otherwise it’s a goner. One more important thing; I save several versions as I go, to save me the pain from losing my work if program crashes, or end-of-the-world blackout hiccups occur.

Skin tones, blood, eyes, hair, sheets.
Skin tones, blood, eyes, hair, sheets.

When I’m down to one last pen tip and feel like not working on the image more, I export the PNG and play with some basic filters elsewhere. I can add chromatic aberration, noise et cetera. Make it darker or lighter with some gradient in overlay, screen or multiply layer opacity mode and so on. If you wish to see the uncensored version, you can do so.

Playing with filters. Scene is still too bright, but I didn't do much with it since.
Playing with filters. Scene is still too bright, but I didn’t do much with it since.

Thank you for your time and see you next time.

I also made a short video with a very tiny portion of the process, but I don’t know where to upload it. I can’t upload it to my blog, since it will eat up the precious server space and traffic and create unbearable load. It needs to be embeddable as YT videos are, and you know, allowed in ToS. So I’m stuck at this point and I’m very very tired of all the Terms of Use everywhere. Oh, well.

Do not copy or repost my work.

Also excuse the puppy in the top right corner. I forgot about him for the time being.