Sunday, July 22, 2012

Illustration: Merida

A bit of gratuitous fanart. =) I've been on holiday for three weeks, and while much of my 'free' time was spent uploading photos and a travel diary for friends and family to see, I did spend quite a bit of time on trains; too bumpy to sketch traditionally, so I decided to see what I could really do with an iPad. Since it was a holiday, I thought some Disney/Pixar fanart would be a good way to unwind, as I don't usually do full-blown illustrations of that subject. 

Just before we left I went to see Brave with a friend. It was perhaps a little predictable, but good fun, and very beautiful. So I chose Merida as my subject. I had absolutely no references, being offline for the entire time I was drawing, and I'm not sure how long it took, but it was over 10 hours. I find working without pressure sensitivity for brush size and opacity considerably slows my working time. So it's not the most accurate of illustrations, but I think it's not too bad. 

This was done entirely in Sketchbook Pro on an iPad 2, with a Wacom Bamboo stylus.

 Here's the original sketch that I did in my Moleskine Sketchbook, before I started. I took a  photo of that with the iPad camera, and worked on top of it for a while. 

Here's an animated gif of the screenshots I took while I was working. I've had Sketchbook Pro eat a couple of sketches, so I'm a bit paranoid and wanted a record.

Here I've chucked together a look at the different images I used while putting the whole thing together. Since iPad illustration is still fairly new, I thought it might be of interest. I was using a high resolution file, which gives you a limit of four layers, so I had to keep various things in separate files until I was finished with them, and could export them as a photograph and import them back into my main image. 

  • Merida was the first thing I did. I lie a bit up there – I didn't import her into a new file, that would have meant erasing around all that hair to remove the white background. I actually saved a copy of that file, flattened it, and used that as the main file. 
  • The dog I did have a reference for. I wanted that particular dog, and couldn't for the life of me remember what it looked like – so I played the youtube trailer and photographed the computer screen to use as a reference. I then saved that as a photo, imported it into my main file, erased around it, stuck it behind Merida and merged those two layers. 
  • The tapestry was intentionally naive, and once I'd done the base of the tapestry as part of the background layer I imported it into the main image and overlayed it using a multiply mode. 
  • Finally I saved a copy, flattened everything, and added some lighting to tie it all together a bit more. I used multiply and screen modes for that. 


  1. WOW. I can't believe you did that on an ipad! Gorgeous work. :)

    1. Thank you! It's a bit more tricky working on an iPad, although there is the advantage of it being portable (and it's really handy on bumpy trains, I must say!) I'd be lost without my stylus, though!



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