Monthly Archives: January 2015

Er’mli Revised


I had some second thoughts and wasn’t happy with my first attempt at the character Er’mli. I scrapped the drawing all together and redrew it. This time, I took particular note of the colors that were in the text description of the character (medium yellow and dark blue) and worked those elements into the design. For comparison, here is the first version: and here’s the revised version:

Process: The Ghost Who Eats


What started out as a quick sketch of an overweight Phantom… …developed into a visual narrative with the character. Adding some context, acting and an interesting or humorous situation can breathe life and interest into a character design. Give your character purpose and intent, don’t just have them stand or sit “normally”. Think about who your character is and what makes them tick. What do they want? What do they fear? How do they react in certain situations? I find it useful to map characters onto people that I’ve come into contact with – whether it’s a person I see […]

Process: Modern Day Medusa


This evening, as a wind-down sketch, I drew a modern spin on the classic Greek villainess Medusa. A modern day interpretation of the pantheon of of Greek gods is something I would like to tackle soon. Pencils: Inks over pencils: Inks by themselves: Final!

Space Riders


This evening I drew a character named Mono, from the upcoming Space Riders comic book, published by Black Mask Studios. Space Riders is written by Fabian Rangel Jr. with art by Alexis Ziritt (who, by amazing coincidence, happens to be a friend and former student of mine). Advanced reviews says that the book is “f’in sublime”. Run out and pre-order this book at your favorite local comic shop. You won’t regret it. -Krishna

Process: Er’mli Colors and Final


I opted to go with a more painterly approach when finalizing the look for this character. The process began by taking the pencil sketch and applying a flat color approach, using Photoshop’s lasso tool. From there, I used a few custom Photoshop brushes to add in shading. Next, I applied a paper texture to give the robe a different material feel. I’ve used this technique plenty of times for illustrating background layouts, but this is the first time I’ve applied the same techniques towards character design. It was definitely an enjoyable experience, and I hope to create new character design […]

Process: Another Egyptian Interior: Color Flats and Final


I wrapped up another ancient Egyptian background this evening. I debated as to whether or not to leave the broken pot from the pencils (below) in the final piece. In the end, I decided against it because it would draw too much attention from the eerie mood I am trying to establish. Is an illustration ever “complete”? For me, it is. Onward to the next adventure!

Process: Egyptian Interiors: Color Flats and Final


I’m reading a book on Maurice Noble, the famed background layout artist whose work at Disney and Warner Bros. are the stuff of legend. Mr. Noble’s background designs are brilliant, and I have a lot to learn from studying his work. Though I work digitally, I approach background design from a painting perspective. I prefer the minimalistic, stylized look as opposed to photorealistic rendering. I prefer to let shapes, not lines, dictate the environment. Below are the color flats for one of the Egyptian backgrounds I was working on earlier this week. Using the pencil sketch, I establish a base […]

Process: Er’mli Rough Pencils


Working from the silhouettes I developed last week, I expanded upon a few of them to arrive at the rough pencil drawings you see below. The description of forest shrines led me towards looking at robes of the Far East for the character’s outfit. Er’mli is stated to be a God, donned in formal attire, so the long flowing robe makes a good fit, I think. My research of Mu (referenced as Er’mli’s father in the text description of the character) led me to incorporate the Chinese symbol of “Mu” into the character’s robe. In each of the designs, I […]

Process: Egyptian Interior Pencils


A week back, I documented my thumbnail process for an Egyptian tomb interior. This week, I selected two of the thumbnail images and developed them further. During this phase of the process, I add more details, including elements of a visual narrative. Basic shading was added to give the illustrations more clarity and depth.

Process: Wooden Truck


One of the first assignments in my Character and Object Design course is the Wooden Vehicle Project. The purpose of this project is to give the students the opportunity to visualize and draw objects as three dimensional structures. Using a wooden vehicle of their choice, students work from a 3/4 front or 3/4 back view of their reference photo. The goal of this exercise isn’t to copy the photo – but to use it as a guide for establishing proportions. Students are asked to show their process work from beginning to end. Often times, when time allows, I like to […]

Process: The Yardbirds


Unless you are an aficionado of 1960’s music, you may not have heard of The Yardbirds. But many people recognize Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck. Each of these guitarists played in The Yardbirds at an early point in their careers. Here’s a process breakdown for the central figure of this piece, Keith Relf.

Process: Staypuft Marshmallow Ghostbuster Man


I saw Ghostbusters in the theater when I was in 7th grade. It made an indelible impression on me back then. The theme song was anthemic, and the story had a fun mix of sci-fi and crass humor. By the ending credits of the film, my gang of friends and I had already made plans to become neighborhood Ghostbusters, placing flyers around our apartment complex. Good times. In my view, no character embodies that movie more than the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Today’s sketch pays tribute to the Man, the Marshmallow Man, and the Myth. Adding a twist, I opted […]

Process: Studded Head Dude


My wind down sketch for the evening features another portrait. The more unusual the subject, the more interested I am in capturing it. Pencils: Inks: Colors:

Process: Er’mli Silhouettes


Drawing from the outside allows me to focus on shape and overall proportions instead of sweating details. Drawing silhouettes is a very quick process, thanks to the symmetry tool in Autodesk Sketchbook. The symmetry tool is a good first start for playing with proportions and shape, but I don’t exclusively rely on it. (The drawings that it generates tend to be stiff and mechanical.) After a few warm-up symmetry sketches, I shift to working out character poses. It gives me an idea of how the character will move, and also allows me to think about the character’s attitude, by way […]

Mind-mapping as a Character Design Brainstorming Tool


Over the course of the next several blog posts, I’ll be sharing my process on how I personally approach character concept design. Constraints are important, and in this case, the constraint I’ve been given is the text description of a character obtained from Chaotic Shiny, a writing and gaming generator. Er’mli, the God of Wrath, is very beautiful, with copper skin, long, pale golden hair, and eyes the color of tree bark. He is very tall and broad-shouldered, and often looks sly. He usually wears formal attire dyed medium yellow and dark blue. He is also associated with water and […]

Process: Egyptian Interior Thumbnails


This quarter I’m teaching a course on background design and layout. Though I’m familiar with background design, this is the first time I am teaching a course specifically on the subject. As such, part of my preparation includes developing my own files to use within my class room demonstrations. Essentially, I’m doing my “homework” to show my students my process and what my expectations are. Designing backgrounds doesn’t have to be intimidating. I spend a considerable amount of time collecting environmental references (both Pinterest and Google are excellent places to start your search). Once I’ve amassed my references, I start […]

Process: Creaturitis


Never underestimate the power of the symmetry tool when it comes to brainstorming character designs. Programs like Sketchbook and Manga Studio offer these tools (providing both X and Y symmetry). Draw one side and your sketch is mirrored simultaneously on the other side. I use this technique quite a bit when I’m developing a series of quick thumbnails for concept work. Pencils: Inks: This is where I add some small variations in texture and some asymmetry to the design. Colors: -Krishna

Process: Captain Insanity


Who doesn’t like drawing Sci-Fi from time to time? Below is a head sketch of a character I’m calling Captain Insanity. Pencils (Sketchbook Pro), using a custom brush I developed. The default Pencil brush in Sketchbook lacks any type of line weight. Inks (Manga Studio 5EX): Inking in Manga Studio is fluid and smooth. Color flats (Photoshop): My muscle memory is tuned to coloring in Photoshop. Maybe one day I’ll investigate colors in Manga Studio… Final!

Process: G.Y.R.O.


My first illustration for 2015 started on New Year’s Eve. Flying gadgetry has always been the stuff of fascination for me, so when I ran across a contraption developed by Thomas Bird (involving an outboard motor and a ceiling fan!), my creative juices were firing on all cylinders. Below is my ink layer, overlapped ontop of my pencil layer. I thought it would be neat to show the pencils overplayed onto of the final piece. There weren’t any major modifications from the pencils in this particular illustration. I took it one step further and added the pencils and inks as […]