August 28, 2012
Elfquest was a huge inspiration to me as a kid. I remember biking to the local comic shop and discovering it for the first time. I was heavy into swords, orks, wizards, elves, and all that stuff back then, and this book seemed so epic and right up my alley. And it was; it remains one of my favorite comics to this day. For last Friday’s daily sketch, I decided to draw my favorite character from Elfquest, Skywise the Stargazer. I wasn’t planning on doing a write-up about it, but I took a few photos at various stages (in case I ruined it along the way), so I figured I could piece together a process post.
I only took the photos once I started laying in color, so I don’t have any pictures of the initial rough, but basically, I started by scribbling with a Col-erase pencil (Scarlet Red), searching for exactly what I was going to draw. I often start this way, scribbling somewhat aimlessly and seeing what comes of it. Once I had some lines I liked, I went in with a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen for the hair and grass, and a Staedler pen for the finer stuff. You’ll see in the photos below that everything is pretty loose and sloppy. That’s partly because I’m not a great inker, but also because I know I’ll be going over them again as I build up the drawing. Also, the sketches in this book are pretty small (3.5 inches tall), so I try not to worry too much about laying down clean lines, or else I’ll get caught up noodling and defeat the purpose of staying loose and having fun.
Once the drawing is done, I start building in some color. I’m using a kiddie watercolor set I picked up at Michael’s for $4.99, a box of Prismacolors I’ve had since I was in high school, and some white ink (to add hi-lights and pop out some details).
I go over the drawing with a light wash of watercolors, just to lay down a quick base. The paper in this book isn’t particularly great at taking water, so I go pretty easy on it, and dab away any excess before it seeps through. I’m not too precious about it; mostly, I just want to cover up the white.
After the watercolor wash is laid down, I start working up some values with the colored pencils and a gray marker. I lay down a couple of layers, knowing that I want to get him pretty dark, since the moon is in front of him.
Ultimately, I decide the shadow areas aren’t dark enough. I really want him to pop, so I go in with the Pentel brush and push the shadow areas all the way to black. I also fill in the grass, and start thickening some lines to add weigh to the metal armor thingy he wears on his head. Again, my lines are pretty loose and ugly, but I know that I’ll be coming in with white ink at the end and sculpting them down, so I don’t sweat it.
At this point, I use colored pencils to add in the remaining details. I fill in the clouds with a white pencil, flesh out the grass a bit more, and add some color to, and around, the moon. Then, using a small brush, I start bringing in white ink. This is where the drawing comes together, so for this stage, I do focus on keeping a steady hand. Depending on how much ink I have on my brush, I’m able to control how much of the colored pencil underneath shows thru, allowing me to fine-tune the values a bit. I drop in some thin hilights to make the metal on his mask more convincing, and some rimlight on his body so he pops out from the grass. Then I go back in with black ink for a few final touch-ups, and bam, I’m one day closer to filling up this book.