Swinging With Those Happy Haunts Poster (With Video)

Inking The Ghosts

Here’s something fun I just finished. I doodled a ghost a day, ink on paper, hoping to end up with a stylized cross-section of a haunted mansion; an illustration you could ‘ride through’ with your eyes. Just an experiment; to see if I could do it.

The Tricky Part

The mansion is a kooky collection of spooky rooms, linked together through a series of twists, turns, ramps, and drops. It’s kind of difficult to reconcile the interior experience with the exterior facade. The toughest part was figuring out how to link all those rooms together in the same sequence as the ride in an easy-to-follow 2-D cutaway that made sense. It was a fun challenge to puzzle out.

Fiddling Around With Color

The more I completed the ink drawing, the more I wanted to see it in color. Muted colors, maybe, and a limited palette; something that evoked an early ‘70s feel to me.

When my friends saw what I was working on, they wanted a poster for their walls. I told them to quit creeping around behind me while I was working, and that I wasn’t planning on printing it. The inked illustration was the final stage.

Digital Color

But once the inks were finished and some high-res photos were taken, I started to think my friends had a half-decent idea. So I re-inked the illustration digitally, fixed some goofs, and added items I’d missed. It doesn’t have ALL the ghosts, but lots of my favorites. Then I did a color pass over the whole thing, keeping it light and fun, like a children’s book illustration or a kids’ comic.

Printing A Poster

When I was done, I kinda’ liked it. I liked it enough to print up a small run of 18×24-inch posters. Now my nosy friends who creep around my studio are happy. They can hang this on their walls. So now I have this small stack of spooky posters. If you know anybody who might wanna hang one on their wall, email me for details on purchasing a signed copy. Check out the video for a ‘ride-through’:

 

Big Bird’s Pal, Caroll Spinney.

I recently watched the Caroll Spinney documentary, I Am Big Bird. It’s so fantastic, I was inspired to doodle this illustration in Clip Studio Paint (colored in Affinity Photo).

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Rough Sketch

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I started out sketching in Clip Studio with a pencil tool. It’s a really rough sketch, but I like to start out loose and tighten it up in the penciling stage.

Pencils

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I create a new layer, lower the opacity of that rough sketch, and draw a more polished version using the rough as a guide.

Speaking of sketching and drawing, did you know Caroll Spinney began his artistic journey as a cartoonist and animator? One of the best things about that documentary is listening to Spinney recount the early days of his career.

Inks

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Digital inks in Clip Studio. I used a brush that I picked up online from a third party vendor, but Clip Studio comes loaded with a nice selection of brushes. The G-Pen, for instance, is a reliable inking tool.

About the early days of Spinney’s career — did you know it was at a puppetry festival in Utah in 1969 that Jim Henson offered Spinney a chance to work with him and the Muppets? Spinney said yes, of course, and performed the character of Big Bird (among other characters) for roughly fifty years.

Affinity Photo

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Looking for alternatives to Photoshop, I discovered Affinity Photo not too long ago. I’m stiill a novice with Affinity Photo, so I forced myself to color this illustration in Affinity just to get the practice. Practice might not make perfect, but it’ll sure help if I ever decide to ditch Photoshop.

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Affinity Photo has very similar tools to Photoshop (the shadows on Big Bird were done with one of the bristle brushes that comes standard with AP) and a similar interface. It’s also one of the few digital art apps that offers a true CMYK workspace like Photoshop.

Final

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This is the finished piece. It was a fun diversion, and I got some much-needed practice in both Clip Studio Paint and Affinity Photo. If you haven’t seen it already, I hope you check out that Caroll Spinney documentary. It’s a must for any fans of Sesame Street and the Muppets. Even if you just like watching creative people talk about their craft, do yourself a favor and watch I Am Big Bird. It may inspire you too. -v

RideScare Service: Coloring an Illustration in Clip Studio Paint

This is really Part Two of my process (I inked this image in Part One). This time, I’ll go through my coloring process. Nothing tricky. Just flats, highlights, shadows, and texture.

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As always, this is just one of dozens of ways to color art in Clip Studio. I encourage you to find the methods that work best for you and go to town.

Flats

With the inks on their own layer, I create a layer beneath that for the flat colors. With Clip Studio, you can use the Fill Tool (Paint Bucket) to drop color simply and quickly.

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If you set the Fill tool to “Follow Adjacent Pixel”  with the “All Layers” icon clicked (see above image), the tool manages to confine the fill within the lines of the ink outline, even when it’s on a separate layer. A great time-saver!

But if you have a lot of little lines (like I do in this drawing) that can sometimes slow you down. So I’ll take a brush (in this case, the Mapping Pen), turn off the Anti-Aliasing (so I get a crisp, bitmapped edge) and I’ll trace the contours of the shape I want to fill.

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Then, with the inks layer turned off, I’ll drop color with the Fill tool and fill that large area all at once. Alternately, this same job could also be accomplished with a Lasso Tool (or a Curve Ruler converted to a selection) and Fill tool.

When that step is completed for all the objects in the piece, the layer under the inks might look something like this. I like to have all the flat colors touching or overlapping under the line work, no gaps or white space.

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Note: I say “layer” but, in fact, I used multiple layers for the flat colors to keep things organized. The crypts, car, road, and sky are all on separate layers.

Highlights, Shadows, and Texture

The coloring in this piece isn’t complex at all. The flats, basically, are the midtones. So I’ll use my imaginary light source (the moon?) to help me lay down the highlights and shadows. I use the Auto Select (Magic Wand) tool to select each of the flat color shapes, then brush in the lights and darks.

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You can see in the composite image (above) that I used a handful of different tools to simulate the various textures in the illustration. Again, you could color this a few dozen different ways and it’d look just fine, but this is what I went with this time.

People

I used the same process for the figures as I did for the background shapes: Midtone Flats, shadows and highlights on a separate layer.

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Note: I know the hapless couple would technically look a bit more blue in the moonlight, but I thought making them the one source of warm color in the piece would draw the viewer’s eye.

Finishing Touches

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Before this ghoul drives off into the moonlight with this poor couple, I wanted to add a few finishing touches to complete the image:
1. I brushed in headlight beams and reflections on the windscreen, then lowered the opacity of that layer.
2. I recolored some of the line work to make it more dynamic.
3. When a friend said this image would make a fun animated short, I pasted in some text to give the illustration the feel of an old cartoon title card.

And that’s all there is to it.

Nightmare Ride: Inking an Illustration in Clip Studio Paint

This young couple’s plans for a pleasant evening have been ruined because they’ve clearly called the wrong rideshare service. So it’s a trip through the boneyard for them.

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I plan on coloring this piece, but first I have to ink it in Clip Studio Paint. My process is fairly simple, nothing tricky or difficult. But I do use some pretty handy ruler tools included with the app, so I thought I’d point those out.

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First, I do a quick, blue-line sketch of the idea (above). It’s drawn with a Pencil Tool, then color-shifted to blue with the Layer Color button, then lowered in opacity so I could ink over it on another layer.

Building The Tires: A Three-Ruler Job

You can see in my freehand drawing of this creep’s jalopy that I cannot draw a perfect ellipse. That’s why I use the Figure Ruler (which has a few options, one of them an ellipse you can shape to your needs).

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Using the Object subtool of the Operations Tool allows me to select, resize and move the ellipse ruler in order to draw all the different parts of the wheel.

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For the spokes on the wheel, I use a subtool of the Special Rulers called Radial Line. It sets a center point from which the lines you draw emanate.

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The third and final ruler I use for the tires is also a Special Ruler called Concentric Circle. I set it in the center of the tire so I could quickly ink the motion lines revolving along the circumference of the tire.

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Enough With The Tires! Let’s Ink The Car!

I’d like this image to have a hand-drawn feel; organic, imperfect. But I want the long, smooth curves of this cartoony Model-T to look machined. So I use the Curve Ruler (the pink lines in the image below) to describe the shapes before inking with a Brush Tool.

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When I start blocking in the blacks, I freehand the parallel curves on that running board and fenders. The ruled edges help me keep my hatching under control, and the freehand brush strokes help to ‘humanize’ the overall feel of the inks.

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Tightening Up The Spooky Background

In the initial blue-line rough (near the top of this post), I sketched in a creepy cemetery for a background. But it was quick and sloppy. So I use a Pencil Tool to polish up the rough sketch on another layer, click Layer Color to make it a blue-line sketch, then ink in the crypts with a Brush Tool.DateWithDeath_inkprocess_VinceDorse

I needed to add rising clouds of mist and road dust. But after all the work I did on those tires, I felt a little weird about erasing them just to hide them behind the dust clouds. To give myself the latitude to change my mind about things later, I use the Lasso Marquee to select the parts of the tire I want to obscure, then click on Layer Menu > Layer Mask > Mask Selection to achieve some non-destructive ‘erasing.’ If I ever get rid of the dust, that tire can be brought back without having to re-draw it.

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People, People, People, People

The inks for the human (and non-human) figures in the illustration are done the same way as everything else: rough sketch, followed by polished blue line, followed by inks (with changes made along the way to suit my whims).

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Inking Finished

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Here are the finished inks. Like I said, fairly simple process involving rulers and a brush tool (as well as a Tech Pen tool I like for less-expressive lines). I’m going to color this in Clip Studio Paint as well, but I’ll save that for a future process post.

Busway. A Pittsburgh City Paper Cover.

I had a lot of fun with this one. The City Paper’s editor, Lisa, wanted an illustration for a cover story on Pittsburgh’s Busways. And she wanted it to evoke that kidlit feel of something like a Richard Scarry book (with anthropomorphized animals going about their daily business).

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I also thought about those hidden picture puzzles in Highlights while I was setting up the composition. Just a lot of little things, all going on at once. I used Clip Studio Paint for this illustration. Here’s my process.

Pencils

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This was all sketched loosely in Clip Studio using the Blue Real Pencil. I just wanted to get something down quick to get approval from Lisa. Once she and the writer hammered out a few details, I was given the go-ahead.

Inks

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Inked in Clip Studio, with various inking tools. The most important tool at this stage were the Curve Rulers. I used those to ink all of those long, sweeping, curved lines (on the guardrail, sidewalks, roads, etc) and to help keep the lines of the buses and windows smooth.

Colors

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I used a couple layers in Clip Studio to keep the flat colors and the highlights/shadows separate. I do this mostly so if I change my mind about one or the other, I can make tiny changes without having to redo the whole thing.

Details

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The tortoise here is being trailed by a hare (running up the stairs) that just can’t catch him. As usual, the tortoise wins this race.

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March just wrapped up, so I had lions and lambs on my mind. I also threw in a bear with a Steelers jersey. Gotta rep the local sports teams.

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In this section, the Pirates and Penguins get a nod. So does Pittsburgh legend Mister Rogers. His X The Owl character is going about his day wearing a classic Mister Rogers sweater.

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The City Paper was kind enough to throw me this gig, so I made sure to put a CP Newspaper box in the picture. It was also a convenient place to put that banana the monkey’s so interested in. Oh, and that chicken? Originally, he was ‘crossing the road’ but that’s one of those edits they made at the paper. No crosswalks on busways. So now chicken’s riding the bus. I guess there’s more than one way to cross a road.

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Ducks feeding ducks, a teddy bear at a picnic, just another pleasant day in the park. And is that a familiar friend in the bottom right?

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Yup. I snuck in alternate universe versions of my Bigfoot and Scout characters (and even their squirrel pal, Squeaky). It’s a friendly city. I’m sure Bigfoot would feel right at home here.

And if you’d like to read the City Paper piece about Pittsburgh Busways (by Ryan Deto), here’s a handy link to the online article. -v

Pencils, Inks, Colors, Done.

Just a real quickie. Been a little busy to post here, but my promo image for this week’s Untold Tales of Bigfoot page happens to be a snapshot of my basic comic-making process. So I figured this process blog would be a good place to post it. Full page here (where I posted a few more inks).

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Quick Rundown of a Bigfoot Page

Busy, busy, busy. But I thought I’d throw up some quick screenshots of my digital process for a page from my latest Untold Tales of Bigfoot short, Devil In The Details. Nothing too hairy here, just quick shots of my steps.

Step 1: PencilsUToB_DeviInTheDetails_process

Terrible, right? I scribble this stuff on paper and scan it. Sometimes the images are tighter, sometimes looser. It depends on my mood and how difficult a particular pose or scene might be to ink without guidance.

Step 2: Ink

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Inked in Clip Studio Paint. I letter in Clip Studio as well, but leave all that on a separate layer in case I need images of the art without text.

Step 3: Flats

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I’m doing this story arc in a faux-aged black-and-white palette to add to the creepiness. So my colors are muted, but warm. I did the flats on the figures first. Why? No reason. Sometimes I start with the background.

Step 4: More Flats

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This page is a little different than some of the others in the story because that third “panel” is really just the page, acting as a background for the top two panels. Just more warm greys, getting things prepped for the final stage…

Step 5: Modeling and Effects

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The last step is usually the highlights and shadows, modeling the figures and background so they have more dimension. I also leave any sort of lighting or atmospheric effects until the end and place them on their own layer. In the case of this short, I also added a roughed-up, worn paper effect to age the image a little and give it a retro feel.

And that’s that! If you wanna read the story, I think we’re about halfway through and starts right here. Thanks for looking! -v