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This tutorial is a detailed, step by step demonstration of my process in the making of a creature illustration. As a side note, this assignment was a Concept Art test for Cryptic Studios. I did get the job, so in that respect, this piece was a success.

Step 0: Comps / Thumbnails

The first step in creating any image is the ideation process. This is the part I really have fun with.  Since the assignment is a creature illustration, I create a set of creature thumbnails. Sketching small and staying loose allows the ideas and shapes to flow. I sketch about 20 mini thumbnails during this process (Fig.01 & Fig.02).

Fig. 01

Fig. 02

I use a combination of gray markers, from 20% gray to 70% gray, just to create shapes and show form and lighting. To line, I use a brush pen and a fine tipped felt pen.

Fig.03 shows the last group of creature sketches. I start by favoring a reptilian creature for this scene until I finally settle on the Minotaur creature on the bottom left.

Having decided on the creature's design, it's now time to design the scene. I sketch small, 2" to 3", thumbnails to establish the overall image. I try to stay very loose and sketch quickly and allow the ideas to flow. I sketch about 10 thumbnails for this image and the ones selected here are the strongest compositions. After some revision and feedback, I decide to develop the thumbnail on the lower left.

Fig. 03

Step 1: Cleanup / Line Drawing

Now I have my creature and the scene sketched/planned out, I scan in the comp and begin to clean it up in Photoshop. I want the focus of the image to be the creature so I develop him first. My focus here is to have a clean, solid line drawing that will create a strong foundation for the rest of the image. This is a really important point; if the drawing is solid, then everything will fall into place and the rendering process will go very smoothly (Fig.04).

Fig. 04

Step 2: Light and Shade

Now that I have a solid line drawing I begin to add light and shade (Fig.05). The steps are as follows:

  1. I paint a flat, 25% gray underneath the line art. The setting is at night, so the creature will be relatively dark.
  2. I create a multiply layer over the flat layer. I paint the shadows using a 50% gray and 25% gray (for core shadows)

I create an Overlay layer above the shadow layer. Using a 85% gray, I paint the lights and highlights. At this stage my focus is on good separation of lights and darks and good edges to make the forms turn.

Fig. 05

continued on next page >

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