Last week I shared a drawing of Avatar Korra I made in 2012. I was inspired by it and decided to draw her again, especially since it's been eight years since and my style has evolved. I really wanted to take my art to the next level, which is why I watched dozens of videos from other amazing artists and gained some insight on technique, tips, and most important of all, creative inspiration!
The Wire Frame
I always start my character drawings with the wire frame, consisting of basic shapes to define the body, pose, and proportions. You can see some of the lines don't quite line up. That's because I make constant alterations to the drawing as I go, adjusting it where I feel it needs it. I would use the lasso tool to select entire portions and resize, re-position, and change the angle. It's messy, but it lays the groundwork for the details in the next stage.
Once I have a solid framework for the character, I start sketching on a new layer on top. This is also messy, but I need to include as much information as possible. I fill in the details for the face, the hair, and the clothing, as well as the hands. I always draw the head minus the hair first, which is why her ear is visible in the sketch but not in the final illustration. Effects like the fire and the background are not sketched because they won't contain any lineart.
The Line Art
This will be the third time I draw her, as with each stage we get closer to the final image. Drawing the clean black lines over my rough sketch is always my favorite part. I don't always follow my sketch lines 100% of the time. For example, her eyes were too big in my sketch so I made some adjustments and drew them better for the line art. I really love using the ipad pro and the apple pencil because the pressure sensitivity allows my lines to taper on the beginning and ending stroke, as well as varied width in the middle as I see fit.
The Flat Colors
I drew the Raava spirit symbol on a different layer and made it a flat colored shape with no line art because it would be used as an effect in the next stage. This drawing is also the first time I didn't use absolute white on any of the coloring, even the eyes. In an attempt to try something new, I didn't use the paint bucket tool for the coloring at all. I manually drew every color area, leaving no gaps for optimal color selection to make creating the shadows and highlights easier in the final stage.
The Finished Illustration
This method of illustrating is commonly referred to as "painted" or "soft shading" style, as apposed to the flat cartoon aesthetic of "cel-style" shading. While I have played around with this technique off and on in the past, I felt really confident this time around as a result of watching other professional illustrators share their process. The shading was multi-step and mutli-layered. If you want to see how I did it in action, watch the video I recorded below.
QuickDraw Video Drawing and Painting
I am really satisfied with how this one turned out. I might consider making more illustrations using this technique in the future. What do you think? Do you prefer the cartoon/comic look of my usual art or do you want to see more of this style? By the way, poster prints are available featuring this illustration. Makes a great gift for the fan in your family!