Recently I was asked by many people about the Character Designs I did for Aquanox 2 Revelation. Most recent question regarding the images were: Is it a Photo manipulation? How much time did you spend on one of them? Did you use Photo references?
I do use photo references sometimes, it is no big secret, and all artists do use references. When doing a scene with very complex geometry and many light sources I do use references for lighting and shading. For single Characters with simple light sources there is no need for reference materila most times. So, most of the Aquanox Characters were all done freehand with no references or models.
Personally I don't care much about photo-realism, I think if you like photo-realism you should take some photos and make a mate painting. With this tutorial I just want to explain the style I decided for the Aquanox Characters.
Each Character took me about 3 working days. I did many changes according to many critics and my personal opinion. The biggest Problem was that some of the Character did appear in the prequel of this Game Aquanox 1 and were painted in a very different, more cartoon like style. So the challenge was to create new Character and make the old designs fit in as well.
For this tutorial I did create a virtual Character AYU, she does not appear in the game. I did not want to spend too much time on it, so I only did spend about 7 hours on her painting and arranging the images for this tutorial. I
did not work out many details, just did it as simple as possible. But I guess it is enough to give you an idea of how it works.
No reference was used for this one.
I did start with this style in the beginning of last Year. The first image of this kind was "Vampire Goddess" I did wrote a tutorial about this image for the book "Digital Fantasy Painting" which was published by Watson-Guptill Publications in New York. I dislike any kind of Filter or manipulation of Poser Characters, so my Idea is very simple. I believe that all you need is software with basic tools and layers.
The style of this shading/lighting is based on the cell like style I used for many old Characters. Shading an organic object with a brush makes it look plastic but not very realistic or too artificial like some airbrush paintings.
I used to like hard shadows the way you can see them in most anime. When I started to blur some of the color layers I developed some other style and this is what you see on this pictures.
It is in fact nothing special, just the basics, but it is enough I think.
Step 1 - Sketching
First of all I did a rough sketch of a character with my Wacom tablet in Photoshop.
Then I opened a new layer and did perspective and proportion corrections. I did not stick much with the body since I decided to make the cloth very simple. Making cloth and hair is not the topic of this tutorial.
Finally I did the final line work I needed for this image (above).
Step 2 - Colouring
I opened a new layer and set the layer option on multiply and colored the face with a brush. I used a green color because it is easier to see then some bright skin tone. In the next step I did fill the green area with a bright skin color tone.
On a new layer I painted an imaginary light source ( this helps me for orientation.) After choosing some darker skin color I started to paint the shadows on the layer with the skin color I created in the beginning. Step by step I did the same procedure by selecting a darker color, I guess you get the idea...