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How I do this Art Stuff...

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Welcome to 'How I do this Art Stuff'. Here you will find out a rather brief little tutorial on how I do my Star Wars art and the techniques I am using for my Star Wars Kids art. I get quite a bit of emailasking me how I do things.. I can't guarantee that you'll be drawing like me at the end of this, but you'll at least have a better grasp of the more annoying technical things that can get in the way of art production such as technique, materials, scanning and the use of Photoshop.

Princess Kneesa Pencils Step 1: Pencil to paper, brush to ink.

After finding reference or inspiration (in this case it was my ewok stuffed animals) I do an intial pencil sketch. Depending on what I am drawing the sketch can either be very loose, or very tight. It is far, far easier to ink tight pencils than it is to ink loose ones.

<----- To the left you see the pencils for the princess kneesa pic. If you have 800x600 resolution, this is about the actual size of the sketch. Note how it's loose and not too detailed. My sketches aren't always really detailed, unless I need them to be.

Next step... the inking! Once you have your pencil sketch done it is time to clean it up and then <insert spooky music here> Ink it! The problem I had with inking the Star Wars Kids stuff is that I didn't want to ruin the original sketches nor did I want to ink the originals and, say, spill a bottle of ink on them or accidentally drop my brush (Both have happened to me, I have also dipped my brush in a cup of coke.. not good).

To get around this problem, I dug up some Drafting Film (Velum? I can't remember) which is a tranluscent, plastic paper that actually takes ink nicely without beading or bleeding. It's very cool stuff and without having a light table, it was my only alternative to inking the originals.

The joys of inking on plastic!
Here are some tips

Don't use as much ink as you normally do. Drafting film will not bleed but it will take a long time to dry if you slather on the ink
Don't eat potato chips. Greasy fingerprints are a pain to ink over. You will notice them too
Don't lean on your inked lines. You'll make nasty smudges. Be very careful when inking, take a break and wait for the lines to dry before continuing if you have to. This can take an hour ir so if you ignored the first tip!

Inking on this stuff is tricky because it's a plastic. I ended up using Micron pigma brush pens as my Higgins Black magic ink wouldn't take to the surface as well as I would have liked. I have found that Speedball Super Black India ink is awesome for working on this stuff. It's thicker than Higgins and even makes crisp lines on cruddy paper.

Step 2: Scanning the image!

Once the ink has dried you are now ready to scan! Use a flatbed scanner for this. Most flatbed scanners have a white backing under the lid. If yours doesn't, place your inked work on the scanner and place a sheet of blank white paper over top of it. If the paper or film is slightly curved for some reason, put a few white sheets of paper on top of the piece and then place a heavy book on top of the art, or on top of the scanner, to reduce scan inconsistencies.

Scan in Line Art mode at about 300 DPI (or higher if needed). On some scanners this is called 'B&W art'. Do not scan in greyscale as it's impossible to colour greyscale scanned line art and the lines are fuzzy and not sharp. Below are some pics showing the difference. The line art scan might look a little jaggy, but it will print and resize nicely To resize line art convert it to greyscale.

Convert to RGB and use gif89a export or Ulead Gif Smartsaver to save the resized image. Choose adaptive colours and set the number of colours to 8 unless you have alot of fine lines, if that's the case, set it to 16. In gif89a make sure you choose adaptive.

Greyscale- Bad - Note the fuzziness Lineart - Good, nice and sharp!

Photoshop Tip:
When dealing with line art in Photoshop, make sure that antialias is turned OFF on your paintbucket and magic wand tools! If it is not, you'll get soft, cruddy edges that are a pain in the butt to edit and they print awful too.
Turn Anti
Step 3 - Add some Colour

There are many ways to colour line art in Photoshop. The techniques I use are fast and effective for my style of art.

The first thing to do is to decide your basic colour scheme by using the paintbucket tool. If you have any gaps in your line art you will want to patch them up using the pencil tool and the colour you want the area to be. for example, if I had a hole in the cape outline, I would patch the hole with pink.

For Kneesa, the cape is pink, her hands, nose and lips are lighter and the flower is purple and yellow. The areas are filled with a colour that can be used as a mid tone.

The image to the right is Kneesa with the base colouring.

Princess Kneesa- Base Colour This doesn't look too bad, but it's kind of plain without shading. To do the shading, select the areas with the magic wand tool ensuring that the anti alias option is NOT selected!

To do soft shading I use the paintbrush tool at about 20-30% opacity with the setting as 'multiply' . Multiply can be tricky to get used to, but once you get the hang of it, it's hard to go back. Rather than just using a darker shade of the colour, such as the pink in the cape, experiment shading with other colours such as blue. Because the opacity is set low, some nice blending can occur. I almost always use a soft edged brush.

Shading is a multi step process:

1) Floodfill the areas
2) Select an area with magic wand
3) Choose a darker shade of the floodfilled colour and use the Brush tool at a low opacity in multiply mode to add some shading
4)Choose another dark colour, add some depth to the shading. Continue until you're happy.
5) Choose a light colour, not necessarily of the same colour group as your original, and set your brish to stun.. er lighten. Lighten areas where you'd want to see a high light. It's okay to go into the dark area a bit, use the fade option if you're shading fabric.
6) Go in with darken or multiply again and blend the light, mid and dark together as needed. This can also be done with the blur or smudge tools, but only do this if your colours are on a different layer to your line art.
7) Choose your next area to shade and start again!

When shading white avoid using only grey as it has a tendency to flatten the image. I use blues, purples and yellows to shade white most of the time.

To create highlights, use the 'lighten' option and choose a light colour. most of my lightening is done with a very pale pink, pale yellow or white. Use the same opacity rating as you did with the shading.

Princess Kneesa - Final! I use a Wacom artZ II pad, which is an absolute dream to work with. Photoshop 5 has fairly decent tablet compatability now and that takes some time to get used to as well.

If you're colouring alot of fur or fabric the 'fade' option comes in very handy, this enables your brush strokes to be limited to a certain number of steps (based on the brush size). My fade is usually set between 10 and 50.

And voila! to the right we have our shaded Kneesa! click on her to see a larger version. If you would like to try your hand at colouring kneesa, you can download the tif file. Please do not redistribute, repost or reproduce this image.

Download IBM format compressed TIF (should work on most macs too)

I hope this was at least moderately helpful for you! Now you can go forth and draw and scan.

Do not redistribute any of this site's content without permission. All Star Wars characters, ships and elements are © & ® 2000 Lucasfilm Limted. Some Licensed Lucasfilm art is posted with permission of Lucasfilm LTD. All content, art and characters not contained in the official Star Wars universe are © 2000 Amy Pronovost. If you have any questions or comments regarding Amara's Cantina and its contents, please send email to amara@flyingarmadillo.com