Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The Joys of Working With a Tablet

The final result of all this.
A graphics tablet that is. Several years ago my parents gave me a Wacom tablet. After playing around with it for a bit, I came to the conclusion that I didn't like using it for pixelshading. It's not as precise as I need it to be. Seeing as I always got too frustrated to finish a toolshaded doll, I never really used my tablet. However, since I managed to finish a toolshaded doll a few weeks ago (done with a mouse, since I hadn't figured out how to get pressure sensitivity working), I decided to give my tablet another chance. And what a wonderful thing it turned out to be! It's so much easier to toolshade with a tablet. No more changing brush opacity by hand every five seconds! It also helped me to get further away from my pixelshading habits.

Anyway, enough about my tablet, on to the doll. It all started by looking at a historical fashion book of The Kyoto Costume Institute. I saw all the pretty Rococo dresses and decided that I wanted to doll one. Soon the realisation dawned that pixelshading such a dress would take ages. So I decided to give toolshading another try. Using my tablet allowed me to get a more 'painterly' effect than my previous tooled dolls had by helping me break out from my pixelshading mentality. This is the first time I've toolshaded a full-body doll (the other two were portraits), so I had to pay more attention to the folds. I started out by laying down very rough shadows and highlights according to the lightsource, not paying attention to the folds yet. It looked very ugly, but that didn't matter. Then I started to shade over that basic shading and tried to emphasise the shading and folds by using crosshatching. While I liked how the stomacher looked with the crosshatched shading, I didn't like the effect on the rest of the dress. It wasn't the texture I was going for, so I started shading again. This time no crosshatching was used and the result looked much smoother. In the end the first layer with the basic shading was completely hidden.
Bodice process: the ugly stage, the crosshatching stage and the final result.
After finishing the dress, it was time to make a background. I looked at several Rococo paintings for inspiration, especially for the trees. I started with roughly blocking out the different background elements. Of course I had to add some mountains. No background feels complete without some mountains (I just like them too much XD). Trees are a weak point of mine, so it was a bit of a challenge drawing them. Using a tablet really helped though. I also used a brush set while painting the trees and bushes, though you don't really see it in the end result, except at the edges of the foliage. At this stage the foliage looked way too light. It distracted from what's supposed to be the focal point: the doll. So I darkened the foliage drastically and drew some leaves over the dark base by hand. The end result looks more balanced (at least that's what I hope ^^'). It might not be perfect, but I liked making this doll so much that I want to toolshade again in the future.

1. Blocking in the shapes.
2. Refining the background.
3. Added the details.