Work In Progress

As promised, here’s a breakdown of how I made the kafka drawing I posted recently:


The biggest challenge I had with this project was trying to make the bug man recognizable as Franz Kafka.
I decided to use the most famous picture of Kafka, and reproduce his body as accurately as possible to the photo.
I figured that if people had seen the photo, they might draw the association more easily if my representation was fairly exact.

There was also the matter of choosing the beetle. While Gregor was not specifically a stag beetle, I decided to depict him as such because the stag beetle is really recognizable, and also really creepy.

I used the above reverence to come up with the following line drawing:


This linework differs from my previous drawings in that I managed to get the blacks and outlines drawn all in one step. This is partly because the image has so much black in it, but also because I was working on my new Cintiq tablet. The Cintiq helps me work much faster, so I’m producing things in much fewer steps.


I added grey tones and shading beneath the black work, and the drawing was already almost finished!


I put in a textured background, but this wasn’t quite enough for me to call the image finished. I decided that the posed nature of this drawing reminded me to a high school senior portrait, and that I should push this into “creepy yearbook photo” territory.


This is close, but wait… Wasn’t kafka alive in the early 1900’s?
Some aging might be needed to really make this image just right.


& there we have it! Gregor Samsa, class of 1915.

A while back, I got a commission request from a nice fellow in Germany to draw from one of his photos.
This was actually the first of my pieces that I did a step-by-step breakdown for, as my client wanted to see the progress as I was drawing it.

Some of you may have seen this on my livejournal a while back, but even I forgot that I did this one…so hopefully it’ll be fresh for most of you. 🙂


Black linework. This piece didn’t have alot of stuff to outline, or large areas of black, so this was very minimal.


Rough color solids. I kept this really minimal too, because I knew that I would be using a lot of transparent layers on top of it.


Lighting, transparent layers, highlights. The lighting is really key in this piece, and I wanted to make it as accurate as possible. I also added a bunch of solid white highlights, hoping that when I added the rest of the transparent layers, it would still show through.


More transparencies. I really wanted to capture the motion of the train moving by, and this was super hard for me! Two things I don’t do a lot of are motion and landscapes, and this piece focused on both! It was a hard battle, but 10 gradient layers later, I think I won.


More solids, some lighting and shadow details. I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to capture the reflections on the ground correctly, but it developed nicely over the next couple steps.


Detail. I was drawing grass and cobblestone for hours.


& it all comes together! Drop shadows and missed details everywhere get filled in. I was really unsure about this one through almost every step, but I was so happy about it in the end! I should revisit some of the stuff I did in this piece with newer work, because I’m really, really happy with how it turned out.

Part two is here for your viewing pleasure:


Okay! So after finishing the figure, I did a really rough version of the middle greytones on the building. I did this step pretty sloppily because I knew I’d be getting more precise with it later.
I also added a ton of noise to the ground to seperate it from the building.


Then I added the main fill color for the building. Again, pretty loose and a little sloppy.


Here is the detailed shading. This is where I started to fill out the parts of the drawing that were overlooked in the previous steps.


Now for the detailed highlights.


Trees! I experimented alot with the value of these trees to push them into the foreground, but without competing with the figure.


Wires. This was the whole reason I chose this setting for this drawing. This is a spot near my house and I’m fascinated by all the wires every morning on my way to work.


Now for the magic…adding texture. Using a good hi-res texture (or several in this case) can totally pull everything together. I especially love the texture in the sky.


A little paint & there you have it!

This one had alot of steps, so I’m breaking it into 2 parts.

This half of the installment will focus on the figure.


I did all the linework in one step this time. Usually I use different layers for thicker and thinner lines, but I knew it was going to have a lot going on in the background. I decided to focus on using alot of solid black to push the figure farther into the foreground, and to keep the linework more simple.


I did the reds as their own step this time because I wanted to experiment with a limited color pallate.
Seeing the stark red made it easy to fill in the other colors without overpowering the red as the primary focus.


Solid coloring for the skin, paintbrush, and paintbucket.


Subtle shading on the face (click through to the full view on this one).


Some more extreme highlights and shading. Without the background in place it was hard to tell if replicating such directional looking light was going to work for or against me. It’s especially odd that I chose to do this in a shot that’s supposed to be outside, but I think it worked in my favor.


Details on the clothing and hair. I almost thought better of the skeleton on the hoodie because I’ve done alot of drawings playing with anatomy in the past, but I actually wear a skeleton hoodie all the time lately so I figured it was okay. I added highlights on the clothes to give them more shape, as they looked totally flat before (and I had used so much highlighting on the face that I had to make them match.
It was at this point that I also discovered that I had no hair & I remedied that.

Tomorrow we’ll talk about the background!

It’s about time I posted some art, right??
This is based off a polaroid by Marie Lodi.


Basic Outlines. I tried to put less detail into this step than I usually do, because polaroids have this gritty, simplistic quality that I wanted to come throught in my drawing.


More Detail. This was mostly filling in the detail on the floor. I was trying to keep it loose and not too precise, again, to emulate the polaroid.


Splatter & Drybrush Techniques. I’ve been experimenting alot with producing drybrush effects digitally through a conbination of using Photoshop brushes and also working on my drawings in Corel Painter. I’ll probably do a whole post about Painter at a leter date, so you guys can see in detail exactly what I’m talking about.


Rough Solid Color. I made this coloring really cool toned because I knew I’d be using a warm texture on top of the whole thing, and I didn’t want it to get too yellow. However, I almost gave up on coloring this drawing all together at this step because I was so unhappy with it.


Smooth Shading. You’ll notice I’m playing with smoth shading alot more lately. You can see some of it in the drawing at the top of the page (I’ll be doing a breakdown of that illustration later in the month!). This helped, but I still felt like the drawing had lost alot of the good qualities it had when it was just black and white.


Cell Shading! My Friend! This is what convinced me to keep coloring this. Perhaps I should play more with combining smooth and solid shading techniques.


Highlights & More Drybrush. You should probably click through to the larger version, because most of what I did in this step isn’t real visible in the small view.


Gradients. I was trying to simulate the flash in the original photo.


& we’re done! Here’s that warm texture I was talking about. It balanced out the cool shading pretty much like I thought it would. I ended up really, really happy with this, and I think I’m going to try to do more polaroid drawings as a series.

What do you guys think?

It began with this photo, which Miss Gala posted on her blog.
I thought it was really rad! So I started to draw my own interpretation of it.


Beginning linework & Basic figure outlines.


Areas of heavy black.


Fine line detail.


Background outlines.


Rough color.


Rough color and shading/highlights on comforter.


More solid color.


Additional shading on the skin.


Clouds and smoke.


Gradient & colorburn.

& it’s done!

Thanks again to Gala!