04 Juggling overlapping art decisions



I decided to start thumbnailing a more finished drawing with all the characters, only to discover that I hadn’t designed the raven. Well, I began sketching right away. But, how do you design a “heroic” raven?


I came up with a design fairly quickly.  In earlier sketches of the raven, I think I had hit a design I kinda liked.  All I had to do was push it a bit more.  I also chose to give him a “hairdo”.  He now has a bit of slicked back “hair”. I thought it gave him  a bit of “greaser” vibe.


An interesting thing happened as I looked for reference online for the raven. As I looked up photos and typed out “raven”, google suggested “white raven”.  White raven? So I clicked on that.  BAM! I got a ton of photos of white ravens! I didn’t know there were such things.  Wow, I’d never heard of anyone using a white raven in a story before, so I decided there and then that the raven in my story, was going to be WHITE.  This is the reason the drawing in the bottom left of the page above is NOT darkened like the others.


Last week, Maria Johnson (of the CATHOLIC WEEKEND podcast, among other things) left a comment that gave me a good jumping off point for my background designs.   She thought, maybe I could use a Schnitzel stand in Germany, like they have in Bamberg. I haven’t been to Bamberg so I had no visual reference. I decided to try to google some reference.  I was not surprised to find that I couldn’t find anything.  I DID manage to find ONE photo that, even though it’s probably not what Maria was talking about,  gave me an idea of what I wanted to do in the end.

This is the photo:
schnitzel stands Pictures, Images and Photos

I love the size of the stand and how open it is.  I love the space too. It seems enclosed yet open enough. Cobble stone floor? I’m so using that.  How awesome it that castle on the hill?

Below are some thumbnails for pictures I might develop into finished pieces. I also drew a top down view of what I might want the location to look like.  I’ve recently taken some pictures that will help me develop it even more:


After that I decided that I might want to start figuring out the colors for my characters.  I took out some Prismacolor Markers, My Pentel brush pen, a colored pencil and began to sketch.  I was originally trying to just solve Rob’s hair (which is a pain in the butt to figure out). I thought that, while I was at it, I might as well ink it and do color experiments.

It was a disaster.  The colors I used were  just the wrong ones. They looked all  muddy.  I hadn’t planned the coloring well enough. When I scanned the drawing to put it up here on the blog, the scanner had managed to improve the colors a bit from the original.  I used Photoshop to try to fix them a bit more but nothing I did helped. The best I could do was what you see below:


Trust me, the original is worse.  Rob is suppose to be dark skinned not pink. The color I originally used was “Mocha Light” but it looked awful.

I guess I really should just use Photoshop to color my drawings. It would be much easier…but…I just feel like using my markers, darn it!

The drawing on the right, drawn on the Post It, was a doodle I did one day, just for the heck of it.  It’s not quite right but there are things about it that I want to keep for Robs final design.

I got more drawn then usual.  There were only two days of World Cup games last week.




Color color color. Color is sooo important, and yet I’m so new at working with it.  It’s going to be one of those learning moments for me.

I’ve gotten to the point in this process where things are overlapping.  On the one hand I need to finalize the designs of the characters. The thing is, I need to also decide what style I want to finally go with. Which in turn informs the colors that I will use in the final product.  Should I start with the colors first? I mean, the characters have to wear colors that will make them stand out from the background right? I still haven’t designed the backgrounds though. This means I need to work on them, but how should I approach them? Should I paint shapes or sketch them like I did the characters?  In the end, whatever I draw will be informed by the style I choose to go with. You see how they all tie together?

In the end I think I’m going to need to play around in sketches to see what style I want as a final look.  As I do this I’m going to be designing the backgrounds and finalizing the characters. In doing so, I hope that all of it combined will end with a final look that I might like.  Personally, think introducing any color will be the most difficult part for me.

Now to change the subject.

A bit down below is my second attempt at finding a skin color for Rob that I like. I’ve also reworked his hair design. Once again, I don’t think I’ve succeeded in the color department. The hair, on the other hand, I like.  I really didn’t like what his hair looked like before.  The Man vs. Art, Raul Aguirre Jr. suggested I should look at some anime characters for hair ideas.  I thought I WAS, since I’m so heavily influenced by that style. But being influenced and actually studying a thing, are two different things. So I thought to myself, what anime hair do I want to be influence by? Well, I kinda wanted  Rob to have big late 70s early 80s anime hair, so after thinking about it I looked at the character of Rick Hunter/Hikaru Ichijyo from ROBOTECH/MACROSS.


He wasn’t my only influence but I wanted big poofy hair like that. So I looked back at my reference picture of Tom Welling:


and tried to design it to look a bit more anime-ish:


Since I was also thinking about the final look of the cartoon, I went back and looked at the pictures that influence me to begin with:


The thing about the artwork was that it was cool and cartoony, but the end result, also reminded me of Alphonse Mucha‘s art:


So I thought that, I’d look at Mucha’s work and try to do my version of it, but without all the super detailed curves and things (for the sake of my sanity). I just wanted the general impression of his work.


I didn’t have time to color it, which makes a pretty big difference.  In the end, I don’t think I succeeded and what I ended up with, kinda looks a bit more like a page out of a kid’s coloring book than Mucha. At some point I’ll add some color and maybe add all the curves and decorations in Photoshop using Paths.

What I DO like about the drawing, is that I can see a final version of the character now.  The hammer still needs work.  Especially the hilt.  It kinda looks awful, but I definitely think I’m going with this design as the final look for Rob

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