Nezu’s Really Long Non-Program-Specific Art Tutorial!

Being a cheepscate and in general just having a hard time deciding what art program to use, I’ve developed a process that should work on just about any art software. All it needs is the ability to use layers, and Multiply and Overlay layer modes. That’s it. In this tutorial I’m making the sketch in Mypaint and the color is done in Gimp, but you could use anything. You could even do the drawing on paper and scan it if you want, it’s all in your hands!

Ok, let’s begin:

Today I want to draw Terezi from Homestuck. I start with her head, an action line, and the tilt of her hips, which helps to get an idea of the scale of the image on my canvas, and lets me plot out the flow of the image.

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Next I rough in the limbs, the neck, the position of the hands, and any props. This is that famous “Stick figure” that art teachers talk so much about. It’s more like a really stylized skeleton, but whatevs. It’s a fast way to work out pose and proportion.

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Time to put some meat on those bones! Here I add in all the forms of the body. Books on anatomy, pose websites like “Posemaniacs” and that kind of thing can help you learn how to do this. I also rough out where things on her face will go and other little details like that. Still really rough and general though.

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New layer time! I make another layer on top of my sketch now and  grab a medium tone like this red, and start “inking” in my lines.I add detail as I go along. I find doing the details on the fly rather than drawing them in my sketch then “Inking” them keeps the lines fresh and lively feeling. I also noticed her arm was a bit wonky and fixed it.

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Delete or hide your sketch layer and you now have a nice clean lineart layer to play with!

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Next I go in with an eraser tool and clean the lines up, then I go in and darken some of the lines, concentrating on the side opposite where I want the light to be coming from, and working on making an overall 3D appearance.

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The next step is to toss on another layer and set it to “Multiply”. I then take lighter shades of my line art color and start laying them down with a soft edged tool to shade. You could also do this with a hard edged tool for a more “Cell Shaded” look. Be sure to keep your light source in mind! It sometimes helps to draw a little sunshine!

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I generally alternate between my fuzzy brush, the soft setting on an eraser, and a smudge tool to gradually whip my shadows into place.

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Next I start filling in darker areas of my drawing (in this case her hair, glasses, and clothes) with a darker shade to act as a base for the shading to come. It can be helpful to keep smudges of your colors around to eyedrop from rather than trying to muck with it while you’re trying to do something.

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If you’re trying to fill things in neatly in a program that doesn’t have the option of using a selection tool, such as Mypaint, it’s a good idea to tackle the edges of the area with a small brush, then fill it in with a bigger one once that’s done.

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All filled! yay! :D

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Here I grabbed an even darker color and hit just the darkest darks, like the shadows of her hair, and the folds on her clothes, and the shadows where the light goes through her glasses. The shading on top of the glasses will make it a breeze to make them look shiny later.

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Next I grab a slightly lighter color and start highlighting, including a thin strip on the edge opposite the light source, to give a sense of bounced light. This adds to the sense of 3 dimensions and makes the drawing more interesting to look at. I also throw some highlights on her hair and glasses.

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Ok, as luscious as all that red is, and as much as it helped with shading, we don’t need it anymore. We need black and white. So flatten your image and drop that color out like it’s hot. (Most programs have a way to go to grey scale. You just want it on this layer though.)

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toss a layer on top of this and set it to overlay. Then take the color you want each area to be, and color over with it. This will tint your lines and shading, which gives you a head start on the color step and just looks good.

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Lookin’ fly, T.Z.

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OK, now pop another layer on top of everything and set it to multiply. Start painting in your colors. 

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Thanks to the colored line/shading layer, you get a head start with the shading. I sometimes just stop here.

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If I want to do more, I’ll toss a layer on top of everything and set it to overlay and paint highlights in using colors that I like for the light. I used greens on this one to bring out greenish tinges to her skintone.

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Here it is with the layer set to normal so you can see what I did:

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As a final touch, I put on one more layer, set to normal, and used a very small brush to paint in the tiny white highlights, and some reflected light.

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I hope all this was helpful! Happy Art making!

PS: You can actually do something like this using real media by doing an “under painting” like our line and shading layer in a waterproof media such as acrylic, ink, or colored pencil, using watercolor over that to add the actual colors, then highlighting with white acrylic!! :D

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