Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Illustration: Mariella

My current batch of work requires a lot of waiting, so I've been using the intervals to create personal pieces, so here is a new illustration!

At the moment I am writing the story to go with this. We shall see how far I get!

I'd been toying with the idea of creating a kidlit illustration with a ghost in, and doodled a little character study of a 17th Century character that I named Mariella:

I chose the 17th Century so that there would be a big difference in costume between her and any modern children I drew with her. I wanted it to be obvious that she had been a ghost for a very long time. I browsed Pinterest for 17th Century children's clothing and settled on a date in the 1660s, when costume was rather swashbuckling. 

I did a few thumbnails to play around with compositions, picked the one I liked best, and worked that up. Here's a progress animation of the whole process:

Having settled on my thumbnail (almost illegible, I'm sorry) I sketched up a slightly more detailed plan in my sketchbook, and then took the whole thing into Photoshop to do a draft. Having done that I slapped a bit of colour on to see how everything worked. At this point I made some changes, most noticeably raising the boy's arm so that he could hold a torch. I had been planning on having everything lit with a ghostly blue light, but a flaming torch is more dramatic! 

I then did some tight linework and started painting. The torch was one of the first things I did, so that I could keep the lightsource in mind as I went. In general I like to work with linework, but as I didn't want black outlines everywhere, I painted the linework as well. In places where a bit more definition was needed, I allowed some contrast between the painting and the linework, and where the linework was no longer so necessary, I let it blend in almost entirely. 

It was fun figuring out how best to paint Mariella. As I was painting digitally I could try various things as I went, so you can see her change slightly as I progress. She was always going to be transparent, but I used a layer mask so that I could adjust the transparency to suit - Mariella herself is completely painted (in shades of blue), in case I decided that I wanted her feet visible after all.

I used a couple of textures from - for the stonework and the door - to speed things up a bit, but other than that, everything is painted by hand on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2 in Adobe Photoshop CC 2015. 

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