Bunny and Otters Digital Painting

Since this is the first illustration that I have created from beginning to end in Photoshop, I thought that I would share my process, and a few discoveries that I made along the way.

My first discovery was that composing a drawing in Photoshop in great! In the future, I might consider doing a very rough sketch on the computer then transferring it to canvas or paper. Why is it so great? Because you can move things around so easily. When I am drawing or painting traditionally, I am always thinking to myself, “When I am doing touch-ups in Photoshop, I need to move his eye to the left,” or, “I like her face, but what was I thinking making her head so ridiculously huge?” Here, I can make those changes constantly, without losing any work. You could also argue that as a result of all of these changes, digital art tends to look too perfect and stiff. Hmmm. . .

So I started with a very loose sketch of the figures:

Otter and Bunny Marcy Tippmann Illustration

 

At the SCBWI conference this May, illustrator Peter Brown emphasized the importance of drawing your characters in silhouette, I really do think it helps create a more dynamic illustration.

Once I was happy with the basic composition, I added some depth to the characters:

Otter and Bunny, Marcy Tippmann Illustration

 

And a rough background:

Otter and Bunny, Marcy Tippmann Illustration

Then I refined the background  and started to think about sunlight - where it is located and its effect on the surrounding objects:

Otter and Bunny, Marcy Tippmann Illustration

 

I decided that the bunny did not look like a bunny with his ears back (he is supposed to be wearing a wetsuit):

Otter and Bunny, Marcy Tippmann Illustration

 

Did you see how I moved the otter on the bottom? So easy!

Now it is time for my favorite part—adding the details. I have to force myself to wait as long as possible to do this, but I know that it makes for a better drawing if you perfect the composition as a whole before focusing on the expression of the character’s faces.

Otter and Bunny, Marcy Tippmann Illustration

 

Because the lighting situation is complicated, I wanted to make sure that the painting worked in grayscale before adding color. So, now it is time for my second-favorite part—color! I spent a lot of time playing with Photoshop’s Layer Blend Modes, which allow you to color the original image without losing detail or value. I set the grayscale drawing to “Multiply” and placed these colors in a layer underneath it:

Otter and Bunny, Marcy Tippmann Illustration

 

Next, I put a layer on top of the drawing and set it to “Color” and added more saturated colors:

Otters and Bunny, Marcy Tippmann Illustration

 

Then, I added a normal layer on top and added the brightest colors:

Bunny and Otters, Marcy Tippmann Illustration

 

When I felt I had a good base of colors to work with, I merged all of the layers and worked as I would with a traditional painting.

The other reason that I like to work in Photoshop, is that you can change the value of the whole painting so easily. I always a get to a point in traditional painting where my brightest color is not bright enough and my darkest color is not dark enough. With experience, I am sure that you learn prepare better for this, but digital painting makes it very easy.

Bunny and Otters, Marcy Tippmann Illustration

Some more refinement of the details:

Bunny and Otters, Marcy Tippmann Illustration

 

Up to this point, I had been working with only one brush, a rough round bristle brush. I liked the way that the edges look, but large areas of solid color looked a bit flat. So, I experimented with more brush options to give the painting more texture.

Here is the final:

Bunny and Otters, Marcy Tippmann Illustration

 

I am playing around with writing an adoption book staring Bunnies and Otters, and this is the final page.

Thanks for reading, let me know what you think!