A Fairy Book – My Process Using Pencils & Computer

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Once again it has been eons between my posts. I thought I’d take you through a process I am doing in making drawings for my fairy book. This is not a lesson, it’s just the way I am producing these drawings.

I’m using mixed media involving pencil drawing and computer colouring. I want to apologize for the low quality photos; they were taken with my tablet.

I start with a sketch, of which I don’t have to show, but none the less that’s where it always starts. This drawing is of the Fairy Keeper and his pet. I haven’t come up with names for the keeper or his pet yet but the pet is an RTC (really tiny cat). Of course you’ll notice that the man is smaller than the cat which means he is also quite tiny.

The entire drawing is drawn with an HB graphite pencil. Once I’m satisfied with the drawing, sometimes that’s 2 or 3 or 4 drawings later, I begin the process of shading it. Each type of shading requires a different shade of pencil. As you probably already know there are many shades or hardness of pencils such as H (1, 2, 3, 4, etc), B (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.) and F. You also have HB which I use to make most of my drawings. I use the H pencils for my lighter shadings and the B’s for the darker shadings. As I’m shading with the pencils I’m also using a stump or tortillon to blend it. There’s a good explanation of the difference between these two smudging tools at this web site—Pencil Drawing – Blending and Shading – Learn to blend and shade your drawings with JD Hillberry. I must admit, after watching the video I realized I wasn’t using these tools in an entirely correct way, but I did get the desired effects I was looking for. There’s also another web site I found to be quite informative, Rapid Fire Art 

Once I’m finished the shading, I scan the drawing at 600 dpi grey-scale. I find this setting works best for my purposes. Next I open it in Photoshop and the first thing I do is select Image, mode then RGB so I can add the colour. Then I tweak the drawing a bit using the levels adjustment to bring out a little more detail in the lines. This can also be done during the scanning process, but I find it works better in Photoshop. Now the process of colouring begins by adding a new layer and naming it. For example, I will make a layer for face or skin tone. Next I go to my foreground colour picker to choose a suitable colour for my skin tone. For the Fairy Keeper I chose a medium pink-orange tone. Using a soft mechanical pencil brush, I begin adding colour to the face. While adding the colour I change the layer blending to “Colour Burn”. The layer blending is different for other parts of the drawing depending on the effect I’m looking for. For instance the clothes are done using a “Linear Burn” instead of the “Colour Burn” to give the colour a little more intensity. I also use “Overlay” on occasion. I will do each part of the face on a different layer then make a new group layer from selected layers and call it Fairy Keepers face. That way if I decide to change the colour of his eyes I can just go to the face group, find the eyes layer and change the colour. It’s also helpful using groups to keep the layers list from getting too long. From here I just do each part of the drawing adding layer after layer until I’m finished.  I used some special brushes to make the grasses and bubbles. I also added a couple of my individual fairies to this drawing of which I went through the same process to colour. One on the roof and the other behind a blade of grass. Now I’m finished colouring the drawing.

For the last thing I open a template that I’m using for the frame around each of the drawings. Next I will go back to my finished drawing and flatten the layers and then drag it over to the template, size it to fit the square and change the outside colour of the square to match with my drawing. That’s it I’m done. I make a glossy print and put it on the wall with the rest of the fairy work I have done so far then go to work on the next drawing.

As I said at the beginning, this is not a lesson. I don’t always do things by the book where art is concerned, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but I learn a lot with each endeavor and I really enjoy what I do.

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About head birdbrain

Hi my name is Robin Hindle and I have been in the graphic design business for nearly 20 years. I love anything to do with art, photography and graphic design. I hope you enjoy my posts on these subjects.
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