This guide will offer a rather streamlined method of straight on drawing, using the least steps, and least complications - and the ability to still go back and correct mistakes as late as the final step of the image. However to make full use of this it's assumed that one is:
> Able to reliably draw characters and scenery from life rather quickly.
> Capable to draw with line confidence. This is a crucial factor as each stroke should not be wasted. This method of working favors those who intuitively renders images and finds a lot of trouble transitioning them for final drafts.
> And lastly, the ability to do all this on a graphics tablet with an art program. Before we begin , know that I am using ClipStudio Paint and a simple Wacom. However, these conditions are completely applicable to Photoshop and other art programs that utilize a tablet. Throughout the entire excercise I will only use one tool; A G-pen "brush" [and what was accidentally a gauss brush woops]. Pressure sensitivity is a factor and the brush size ranges from 5 pixels to 30.
Added Note: Hotkeys also aide in this excercise, with I being the eye dropper, P (or B) being my Pen/Brush tool, the [ ] brackets for brush sizes and numbers 1 through 9 , ending with 0 , as my opacity controls. Being able to have these buttons handy with your offhand as you draw is extremely important in speed and flow.
Right away we are able to generate expressive sketches of our characters and what we want them to do. Without the need to ever erase, simply stroke out their gestural lines and build from there. The sketchphase is loose and confident. A good way to condition yourself for this level of drawing is to simply do gesture practices at Posemaniacs or consistently draw in public. If you are not happy with a pose or you find yourself noodling TOO long with one sketch then just DESTROY IT and start over. Don't get in a rut, and each new attempt gets you to what you really want faster.
Step 2: Inking / Smooth Draft
Either way, we now have what seems to be a rather energetic pose but its still very raw. So we'll start a new layer , set this one to fade into background at around 25% transperancy and just ink with bolder tints and more confident strokes.
In this step, its better to zoom rather closely to the image so that each individual stroke is easy to perform And stroking in general becomes a braindead task of retreading the same energy as the last. However what you must never do is try to copy the under-drawing exactly. You are performing the same drawing- but better, smoother, more detailed. Small details like the bootstraps and the coat are explored more and embellishments can be added to the scene. It's also important to note that details NOT drawn are just as important.
In this step, using the eyedropper to paint with "white" becomes a necessary component in smoothing out your lines as well as accentuating negative spaces.
The effect it produces allows absolute control of what is black and what is white. You can also use the opacities to create midtones. In the image we're working on i'm using 70% opacity on the greys and scraping it out with local colors.
Step 3: Colouring
In the interest of marrying the inked layer to color we will overlay a "Darken" layer on top of what we have and put down foundation colours. Unlike Multiply, Darken will preserve the inktones and won't darken when the eyedropper tool is continuously used. Coloring images in this way is very reliant on your ability to produce a good color pallete. (As a silver bullet method, I tend to keep my colors relative, moving only the hue slider or moving my monochromes along a curve.)
The benefits to this step is that the shadows produced in previous steps will blend with this current layer. Dont spend too long colouring finer details until you start a normal layer on top and proceed to go ham on the rest of the image.
Once you enter the Normal Paint Phase, there is no longer any need to revisit the old layers because you can do all your adjustments on the normal layer, even inks. Personally I'm the type of monster who repaints whole parts of the image on the paint layer when something goes wrong.
When you are done , crush the image into one layer. Listen to the agonizing souls of the damned when you do. And then hit CTRL+L to crush the levels and get rid of those unused ranges so your image looks 12% better than it did 2 sentences ago.
And just like that, the image is done in under an hour.