The Drawing Process



I start my projects, drawn on paper or on the computer, with a rough sketch. I rarely start off with a wire skeleton, but I definitely do draw the character as shapes, joints, and digit groups.


Sometimes, as I did with Adam (above), I’ll also pencil in a rough of the character’s clothing. If I were drawing this with pencil, I would always do this step with pencil and never do it in the fleshing-out stage.



I then flesh out an outline based on the rough sketch. (I drew the hands kind of big up there ^_^; )



After that, I hide the sketch layer, add a new layer under the outline, and fill within the outline white. This step is because of a quirk with Manga Studio 4’s color blend tool, which may render colors transparent (I think it blends the colors with the nothingness in the background).

An alternative is what I did with Adam:


I colored in the outline with the colors I chose first, then created layers only for highlighting/lowlighting areas. These layers are best done separately, by the way, or the colors may blend with each other or with the outline (though you can use the magic wand tool). I tend to like the white background better, though, as I feel that it distorts the overall product less.



Over the white background, I begin to color whatever is the bottom-most layer of color. Usually, this is the skin, followed by any under garment, followed by outer garment, hair, etc..

To color, I select a good base color. For colors that are hard to attain (like browns), I may run an online search for a drawing or character that has a color close to what I’m hoping for, paste that into my canvas, and then use the eyedropper tool to utilize that color. I then lighten/darken, warm/cool the color to produce highlights and shadows, coloring over the base where appropriate – the darker color under fringes of clothing, for example, the highlights on high, rounded parts of the character.


I like to start on the skin and work up through the different layers because it not only keeps me organized, but keeps me from allowing stray splotches of color from remaining below any other shades. This is important when your colors may become transparent.

Typically, I color wildly outside the lines to aid with the color blending. Then, once done with coloring/shading/highlighting/blending, I take the eraser tool and carefully erase around the edges.


Layers later, and he’s complete!

I then save the project a final time, and export it to Photoshop, where I crop it and create expressions

instructor happy


instructor angry


instructor blush

This is his drinkin’ face!


Overall, as I’ve mentioned before, I like drawing on the computer better than on paper because there’s no chance of ruining a drawing with a faulty eraser. The coloring is made easier and less messy. You can do everything in nice, separate layers so that no mistake on one portion ends up messing up another portion.

The only downsides are the wrist-wiggle and the learning curve.


You can see evidence of wrist-wiggle on Adam that you may not notice on Renek, because I was less practiced on Manga Studio when I drew him, and didn’t understand the relationship between auto-correct and wrist-wiggle, especially for lines – like on his armor – that should be completely straight.

All in all, drawing on the computer has completely revolutionized the drawing process for me. What about you?




3 thoughts on “The Drawing Process

  1. Thanks for sharing your process!

    I’m still experimenting with different programs and using the bamboo sketchpad as I move away from my iPad drawings.
    I got into drawing on the computer with the Brushes app for iPad but realized that my images will always remain rather small and I wanted to blow some up to make canvases. I’m now working with illustrator and Photoshop but in the learning curve stage.

    I also love using the layers. It’s great that I can just revise parts of my original piece rather than starting over.

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