How I Draw (will be picture heavy) - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 06-22-2012, 06:50 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Alabama
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How I Draw (will be picture heavy)

I thought I'd do one of those "work in progress" type threads.

I've started a picture of two of my characters from something I'm writing. I don't really use references, rather I watch videos to see how things move and then try to draw them, (mainly because I really suck at drawing from reference.)

So, first off, I think of what I want to draw. This is the easy part. I think of a scene or get inspired by something I've seen or written, and I get a general idea. Then I develop it by planning out what I want in the picture and where.

For drawing, I use Easy Painttool SAI and my Wacom Bamboo tablet. I prefer SAI over photoshop for drawing; it's more made for it.

Anyway, I start with a sketch. I don't bother with those "lines and shapes" because I never learned how to use them properly. So basically, I start by drawing the horse's head very roughly and work my way down his neck and back, to his shoulders and front legs, then his back legs, then his mane and tail. Then I go to the rider, drawing her body first from the hips down and working my way up so she's not "floating" above the horse. Then I go into detail, drawing the horse's tack eyes and the rider's clothes, face, and hair. The sketch ends up looking like this --

The sketch looks alright. I used about sixteen to twenty layers on this, which is about normal for a sketch this size (for me).

Next, I go on to work on what's called the line art.

Now, I see a lot of mistakes in the sketch, and the line art is where I can go back and fix them up more cleanly. Look at the horse's head; it's a little too thick toward the neck. Using the pencil tool in SAI, I go back and I make it thinner by stroking the pen higher than I did in the sketch. I can fix a lot of problems by going back and taking my time with the line art, which turned out like this --

My line art is also a little thicker than some people's, and that's because it makes coloring much, much easier, and also gives my drawings a little more of my own personal flare -- bolder colors, thicker lines. The line art took me about twelve layers -- significantly less than I'd usually expect to use on a picture this size.

Thirdly, and this is usually the most time consuming part of the whole process, I color. Coloring is something I'm still becoming accustomed to. There's no right or wrong way to do it, and everyone does it differently. With me, I use the select tool and choose exactly where the colors are going before I so much as choose the color.

I'm going to show you, more or less, a step-by-step of sorts of my coloring process.


I fill in the "background layer" with a duller, darker green. This makes the color of the horse's coat, the rider's skin, and other parts really pop in contrast. When I get to the greens on the rider's clothes, I'll simply change the background color by using the fill tool with a more contrasting color. This also helps keep me from making a mistake and "coloring outside the lines."

I always start with the hair, be it mane and tail or human hair. It just helps me get warmed up, and seeing as hair is a bit more detailed, it makes things start out fun, and gets a harder part out of the way. Then I always do the eyes.

So, I've selected the horse's mane, filled it in, and shaded it. I also did the same with the white of his eye and the eye color itself. Here's the result. . .

Then I do the same for the girl. . .

Here's what I have so far. . .

Next, I go on and start doing the clothing and the jewelry. This part's simple and fun, so I'll only show you in slight detail one of the patterned items the girl is wearing.

It starts out like this, simply colored and shaded, with very little attention to detail. . .

Now, if you noticed in the sketch, there was a pattern where the armband is colored. I didn't bother to line it because the pattern wasn't outlined; it was just a simple color design. So, what I did was traced over the original pattern in the sketch (in a different window) with the color green, then pasted it and shaded it as appropriate to the lighting.

It ended up looking like this. . .

It's pretty neat to do, considering I hadn't figured that out when I was first drawing digitally, and so all the designs I did were either simple in black or not shaded.

Anyway, then I did the rest of the little accessories, which you can see in detail in this next screenshot. The accessories are fun and easy to do, so I like to take my time and relax when I do them. My favorite things to do are the shiny things especially; I don't know why.

And that is as far as I've gotten, since I started having a problem with my drawing hand that spread all the way up to my shoulder. I'm almost completely recovered now, which is how I'm typing and doing all this. So, let's take a look at the whole picture at where it is now.

And here we are.

In the future, I'm hoping it'll turn out like my other latest horsey-picture, which I did back in March. Just for kicks, this is what it'll look like, fully-colored and with a nifty background painted in. . .

And one day, when I'm finally finished with writing this complete little story, I'll post it somewhere or something so the people who see these pictures can understand what in the world is actually going on in the things I draw.

Anyway, total time spent on the picture so far is between six to eight hours. I'm expecting to spend around fifteen hours on it, depending how things go. I'll update with more once I'm back to drawing.

But yeah, that's that. If you've read this much, you're amazing, LOL!

Candy | 14.3hh sorrel AQHA mare
Diesel |15hh bay grade gaited gelding
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post #2 of 24 Old 06-22-2012, 08:26 AM
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OMG THAT IS SO FREAKING COOL!!!! I love how spread out the horse is, really gathering streamline speed! And the girl looks B-A with her wrapped up chest and all the little detailing..

SO amazing!

Feel free to sketch Sky anytime!

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post #3 of 24 Old 06-22-2012, 11:27 PM
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That is so fricken awesome! Could totally be an animated show!
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post #4 of 24 Old 06-22-2012, 11:38 PM
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Thank you for taking the time to show that. Very interesting process. you have talent.
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post #5 of 24 Old 06-23-2012, 06:29 AM
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I miss my more artistic days and my tablet and my photoshop.

Amazing work.

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post #6 of 24 Old 06-23-2012, 01:37 PM
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Those are unique, something ive never seen before; nice!
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post #7 of 24 Old 06-24-2012, 12:16 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Alabama
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Sky -- Thank you very much! I'm glad you like it. And when I get the guts and the skill to try drawing horses from strict reference, your boy will be the first on the list. (I want to be able to do someone's horse justice, you know? Haha.)

AmberNichole -- Dang, thank you! Animation's actually been one of my biggest interests for as long as I can remember. c:

Tiny -- Thank you, that's very kind of you to say! I'm trying to improve myself with every drawing.

Breella -- Thank you! But dang, I'm sorry about that. D:

GorronRoy -- Thank you kindly! I'm flattered.

Seriously, thank ya'll -- your words really encourage me. I'm going to work on this some more tonight, so there might come a flood of pictures and text by morning, LOL.

Candy | 14.3hh sorrel AQHA mare
Diesel |15hh bay grade gaited gelding
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post #8 of 24 Old 06-24-2012, 05:09 AM Thread Starter
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Alright, let's get some of this done.

I've filled in the background with a more contrasting color since Dae (the female character) has a green and gold color scheme. As you can see, it helps that green really pop out at me, which helps me not only focus but, again, helps keep me inside the lines.

So in this first picture, you see I've filled it in with color, but I've not shaded it. I call it putting flat colors on the picture. It's not going to stay that way, however -- I just wanted to show you that I start out first by selecting and filling in the area I'm about to color. If you can see the dashed line surrounding the green, that's actually showing the area I've selected, and when I've selected an area to color, I can only color inside said area. It makes things quite a bit easier, especially considering I'll use multiple layers for this single area of color. It'd be a headache otherwise.

Alright, next. . .

Now you see that I've put some very light and simple shading on it. This will direct me as to where I should be putting harder shadows in accordance with where the wrinkles and folds are placed in the clothing. This is something I'm still getting the hang of, as coloring isn't my strong point, but hey, it works for me.

Next, we put more details. . .

Now I've put harder, more dramatic shadows on the places facing opposite of the light source, which, in the case of this picture, will be at the upper left-hand corner. Doing light sources from that direction, or opposite at the upper right-hand corner, makes things very simple when it comes to shading, and since I've not really mastered coloring, a simple shading job will keep me from having an emotional breakdown halfway through the coloring process. (Oh, I'm just kidding. sort of. )

Also, notice the highlights. I added them in just a little. If this were a silky fabric, I would've had a field day making it shiny and fun. I'm thinking about doing that to the sash around her waist because dang, that'd be fun.

Alright, moving on. You notice that her shirt looks a little... bland. It's all too green. This is an easy fix. Look closely at this next picture and you'll see what I've done.

It's simple, but I honestly think adding a little gold in there made it work for me.

Alright, I've made a foolish mistake that I'm just now catching.

Arrow's on the wrong side. Whoops! I'm a left-handed archer, and my arrows are always on the side I've drawn this on... This is where being able to accurately use references helps tremendously. Luckily, I caught it early on.

It's an easy fix -- just a quick alteration to the lines using a new layer right above the line art layer.

There we go; much better. Also, please forgive my awful handwriting. LOL

Now, I'm going to go ahead and color in a few more little accessories and details since I've shown you the process. Here are some detail shots.

The warmer around her neck. . .

The bangle around her leg and the wraps on her foot. . .

And the cuff around her wrist. . .

Okay, now for the last part I'm going to do tonight, since it's four in the morning and I actually have to go to work today. LOL

Feathers are one of my favorite things to color. I don't know why; they're just fun. So I start out with flat colors like earlier. Simple enough, but you have to be careful how you use the selection tool, as you'll notice the lines on these feathers are a bit thin. Here's what the first step looks like. . .

Alright, fair enough. Next, I put in little shading details that (hopefully) make them look more like feathers. What I do is put a center line where the "stem" of the feather would go that holds together all the little individual "hairs." (I have no absolutely no knowledge of the vocabulary used for the anatomical parts of the plumage of birds. LOL) Then, I put on some shadows opposite of the light source and some highlights on the appropriate parts.

Okay, now for the little splash of color for decoration.

Using the airbrush tool, I take a deeper red and add a little color to the ends of the feathers; as if they've been dipped in paint. I've always liked to do this to the feathers I put in pictures because it seems to make them "jump" a little more. It's only a minor detail, I know, but I think it's the small things that bring a picture together as a whole.

Okay, let's take a look at how far I've gotten.

I'll stop here before I start dragging things out any further. I'll probably just color the rest of her clothes sometime and then pick this up later when I get to a more interesting part, like the horse's coat or something. Anyway, that's all for tonight.
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Candy | 14.3hh sorrel AQHA mare
Diesel |15hh bay grade gaited gelding
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post #9 of 24 Old 06-24-2012, 05:18 AM
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Oh my gosh this is amazing!
All the attention to little details astounds me! Is have to say I am loving it so far and you are putting so much effort into this!

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post #10 of 24 Old 06-24-2012, 06:09 AM
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Superb! Is anyone else reminded of "Horseland purple" with that colour? #bb88bb I believe was the hex code. Oh, my younger days. Ha!

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