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Creating Line Art

This is the process through which I created the line art for my work Hair Like Waves. It’s not really intended as a tutorial, just an explanation of part of how I, myself, create my art :)

For creating my work, I use Adobe Photoshop CS2 and a Wacom Graphire4 tablet. Initially though, I start with a sketch using a mechanical pencil on sketch paper. I prefer sketching with traditional media over digital.

So here is my initial sketch.

After scanning the sketch into my computer, the first thing I did was play with brightness and contrast (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Brightness/Contrast) until the sketch was dark enough to see clearly. I also flipped the image as I think this makes it easier to see any mistakes. The sketch then looked like this:

I decided to turn the head a little (so that it would be level), and also open up her chest a little. Here, I’ve marked the things I want to change:

I started by copy-pasting a square from the sketch including the head and simply rotating it.

I then copy-pasted a square including the chest and used “warp” (Edit > Transform > Warp) to open the chest a little and center it.

I almost always make little tweaks like this before I begin “inking”. Remember it’s far easier to fix problems earlier than later! Here’s the before and after:

At this point, the sketch was pretty much ready to start inking over. The size of the image was about 2200px by 3000px. I used an angled, oval-shaped, hard-edged brush for inking (I think it produces more interesting lines than a round brush).

In order to distinguish between a sketch line and an inked line, I turned the sketch blue by playing with colour balance (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Color Balance). I inked on a new layer. My first inked lines tend to be very rough, as I just get the basic lines down. At this point I had four layers – a plain white background (on the bottom), the sketch, and the colour balance layer above that, and finally the line art on top.

I continued the rough inking until all the lines were there, and I could turn off the sketch layer.

I then refined the rough lines using a lot of the eraser tool and the brush tool (of course). I take my time and use ctrl-z constantly. And here’s another before and after!

To make the line art more dynamic, I make the lines different thicknesses. Where lines join, I make them thicker. I used thin lines to indicate taut skin, stretched clothes, etc. and thicker lines for folds.

And that’s that! The line art is now ready for some colouring:

Thanks for reading and I hope it was interesting or helpful (or something!)


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