Thursday, September 18, 2014

Workflow Walk-thru

Let’s look at my workflow. This changes a bit depending on my materials and style, client needs, etc. but for most of my line art, this will be my preferred workflow 90% of the time. Everyone does things differently so this ISN'T how you have to work but this offers new options. I work with a light-box and I got this technique from an artist by the name of Bart Sears and used it while studying animation in college.

Here, we are looking at a character that I designed to be used for a video game.

The main reason I work this way, is that I'm also a colorist and need my lines to be very precise and open. I don't use a lot of thick, black shading to allow the contrast and lighting to be determined in the coloring stage.  Let's check out the steps:

1. First, I start off with a doodle in my 4x6 Aquabee sketchbook, using my Pilot Precise V5 pen. The lines are unfinished, to focus on the pose. The idea is to be quick and such a small drawing in a small book adds to that. From here, I scan it and blow it up in Photoshop to print on regular 8.5x11 paper. Once printed, I trace the sketch on my light-box in step 2.

2. This breakdown step is usually done in pen- my Pilot Precise V5, but since the character's design was still unclear to me at this point, I used my Zebra M-402 pencil. I was still unsure about how I wanted him to look, so I would erase bits and start again, experimenting with different designs until I stumbled upon something I liked. Again, had I known the character's design beforehand, this step would have been done in pen.

3. Once I found a design I liked for the character, I slapped it on the light-box again with a new sheet of paper on top and ink my final lines. I would correct a few more mistakes and add more details. For this step, I use my Pigma Micron pens.

The PROS and CONS of this method?

PROS: It allows you to iron out the kinks as you go along. You can do damage and quality control and not rush the art. You can go back to a previous step, unlike doing it all in one go.

CONS: The back and forth extra steps can be time consuming. You also go through A LOT of paper!

Character designs Copyright © Enigma Resolve, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


  1. Witnessing the completed step by step process always elicits that "wow" factor, but understanding how a piece transforms, is in and of itself awe-inspiring. Now you've given amazing insight into your actual process, and the evolution towards your finished piece of work, which so many appreciate and admire. It's a light bulb moment, especially for those of us who don't "doodle", and probably will never utilize a Pilot V5 pen, but immensely enjoy great work. This is so cool. :-)

    1. Thanx doll! :p The one thing I want to do most is show others that even if it takes years of practice, you can set up a workflow that demystifies the process and allows people to jump right in and make improvements quickly. What you are left with is a step-by-step process that you can actually see a progressive evolution in your own work in one piece of art.