Saturday, June 15, 2013

Drawing Process: Bobby's Biggest Bubble

I've recently had quite a few people asking about how I did the artwork for my children's book Bobby's Biggest Bubble. I'll try to explain my process below:

I used a great small (and inexpensive) program called ArtRage Pro to do my line work and coloring. My story was very whimsical and funny, so I wanted the book to have a Saturday morning cartoon style, using solid black outlines and vibrant flat "cel"-like coloring.

The finalized kitchen scene from a page of Bobby's Biggest Bubble (sans type/lettering)

I found ArtRage Pro was the best program for the line control I needed. (Other more popular programs, like Photoshop and Painter, just didn't have that feel or line control I wanted.) Using the program's default "Round and Smooth" ink pen setting and adjusting it's Smoothing setting to about 40-50% gave me just enough control while keeping the line smooth and clean.

The image was first pencil sketched, scanned and then placed into ArtRage where I traced in the ink lines (using about 9% pen size).

The original pencil sketch scanned into ArtRage Pro to be inked and colored

Each element (e.g. kitchen background, the bubble) and character were drawn on separate layers, allowing composition/size adjustments.
The "inked" layers all seen together without coloring. Note: many background items were extended in more detail from the original pencil sketch. Doing this allows more control of placement and making adjustments if needed.

For coloring, I used the Watercolor setting of Wet on Dry to get the solid color fills.
I created separate layers for 
highlights and shades and placed their layers over the color layers. Then I drew in the highlights and shadows using the same smooth Ink Pen as before, only at a much larger size (about 15%). For shading, the layer's Opacity was turned down to 15-20% using black as the color. For highlights, the layer's Opacity was turned down to about 60% using white as the color.
Lowering the opacity creates a transparent coloring control that allows me to darken or lighten the colors underneath.

The image shown w/o highlights/shading, but includes the word balloon and outer framing (via Photoshop)

When the image was finished, it was exported to a Photoshop PSD file (with layers) so that I could compile and convert all images (and layers) into a high quality TIF files and place them into Adobe's InDesign for publishing. Final touches like text, word balloons and outline frames were done in Photoshop.

FYI: I plan to use ArtRage again for the book's sequel . . . love using this program!