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