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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Harry and Hedwig Digital Painting Process.

Happy New Year everyone! I have a lot to be thankful for, I had an amazing year with my family and I learned a ton as an artist.  I can't believe how fast 2012 went by!

For this blog post I thought that I would share my digital painting process in Photoshop with all of you. My process isn't the end all be all way of painting in the computer but it works for me. Special thanks to Mr. Harry Potter for being our model for the day.
 1.  For step one I start out with the sketching phase. I spend a lot of  time here thinking about what I want to create. After a few thumbnails and lots of exploration I produce a final sketch.

In this step we are going to first separate the line art from the background. To do this click on the channels box next to your layers and  command click for Mac or for PC control click the RGB window. This will select all the white in the image. Now simply inverse the selection pull up a new layer and fill it with black or whatever color you choose. Then deselect the the image and you should have the line art separated on it's own layer. I label this layer "Line Art"

Also, I fill a new layer with gray and place it at the bottom of the art work and call it BG or Background.

In the original paper sketch I drew Hedwig all wrong but thanks to digital technology I was able to erase and redraw her the way that I had envisioned.
 2. The next phase is a quick one. For the first few steps it is important to stay zoomed out, usually no bigger than a thumbnail or a comp. On a new layer underneath the "Line Art" layer  using a large brush I block in the flat colors. This helps me to separate the all the different elements of the character. Also, I can harmonize the values by using the same color for different elements like the hair and the sweater. This helps later on in the color phase. I label this layer "Flats"
 3. Like step 2, this should be a relatively quick phase of the painting. On a new layer I change the blend mode to multiply and place it above the "Flats" but underneath the "Line Art" layer. Using a large soft round brush I establish a lighting pattern and block in the values and the shadows. I label this layer"Shadows". 

Here is a little tip on shadows: Form shadows are soft as they describe the object and cast shadows tend to have a sharper edge because they are blocking the light. 
 4. Now comes the more tedious part of the painting. For this phase slow way down and take your time. This is what I call the overpaint stage. Open up a new layer above all of the other layers. In this step I zoom in and start using more painterly brushes, like brush #24. On this layer you will paint out all of the line art and clean up the edges and values. This will take a lot of time but it will be the very rewarding if done right. 

After you are done with this step merge the Overpaint, Line Art, Flats and the Shadow layers in to one layer and continue to clean up the painting. Remember to keep the background layer separate.
 5. Now that the overpaint phase is done it's time for a background. Following the same steps previously outlined, I paint in the background on new layers beneath the characters. I thought it would be fun to have Harry and Hedwig in some dark remote part of the Hogwarts castle.
6. Once our values are done we can start glazing in a little color to help the mood. It's been said that if you get the values right you can pretty much paint with whatever colors you want. For this step I use multiply and color layers. Using mostly high key low saturation colors I start to tint the painting. Try to use colors that complement each other in this case I used the primary colors Red, Blue, and Yellow.

Well, I hope this gives you a little insight to my process. If you have any questions feel free to email me. Have a fantastic New Year! Now get out there and paint!


  1. To publish that comment I had to type "10306 wersout".

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  3. Thanks Adam! This was really helpful!

  4. Glad you found this useful Shaun!

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  6. Adam, your site is awesome! Loved this tutorial too! Keep it up man.