Composition Process

This is a broad look at how I go from an idea to a finished drawing.
It involves software and a little imagination.
Perhaps it will help you build a structure to creating a
work, or maybe it will scare you into avoiding structure altogether.
In any case, this is how I do it.


Step one--Doodle

(click to zoom)

1. Doodle an Idea.


Okay, so you’re going along your day’s business, and suddenly some idea
hits you for a composition!  What to do? What to do?


Stop, soldier!  Find the nearest piece of paper and pen, and
doodle it.  Don’t focus on the details or the proportions!
Try and convey your idea on your doodle before the entire
composition disappears from your head.


If you aren’t an artistic prodigy, it may not look like a masterpiece
yet.  Oh well,
this is just the idea for a future drawing.

2. Plan the Details.


you put those important details into your original doodle.  Or
perhaps you come back to the doodle and decide to place several details
into it.


I, however, made a second doodle after the first one.  As you
can see here, I made a few modifications to the pose as well.


But in this stage, you can focus on the clothes, jewelry, perhaps even
the way the eyes will look, or the laces of a boot.  Whatever
is important for you to have in your final piece.


But, remember,
things can always change when you finally start your work.  
don’t get caught up here.

Plan Clothes

(click to zoom)


(click to zoom)

3. Draw a Skeleton.


Start your sketch.


Drawing a basic skeleton is very useful in trying to get the entire
composition to work together.  Lay down the foundation before
you start putting the chimney up.


First of all, this helps you get the composition as large as you can on
whatever material is your canvas, but without going off the edge where
you intend a part of it to go.


As well, it helps you get the proportions correct.  Imagine
drawing the perfect toes on a foot, only to realize the entire foot is
too big.  These glaring disproportions may stand out before
you put the details into your work.

4. Sketch in the Details


So, you have that skeleton laid out just the way you
want it.


Start putting the details with a pencil.  Put some meat on
them bones!


If something you draw doesn’t look right, don’t be afraid to erase it
and try again, or completely go against your original doodles with your
new ideas for certain details.  Make sure it feels right to


Done?  Okay.  Put the drawing down, and come back to
it another time–give it an hour or a day.  Come back and see
if you still like what you’ve done.  Maybe when you were
focused, something really looked better than it really does as you
glance at the picture with a fresh mind.


(click to zoom)


(click to zoom)

5. Linework


you feel your sketch looks too pencil-y?  


can take a new sheet of paper, and go to a lightbox or a window, and
carefully ink your work for your final composition.


Or, if you choose to do things digitally, you can use programs like
Flash, Photoshop, or free software like GIMP.


I inked my artwork using Flash.  You can see a tutorial on
that method here.

6. Color or Texture


Using whatever method you intended, add a splotch of color.
Or perhaps you’ll make your work black and white?
Or you’ll cover it in gradients like a manga?  It’s
your choice–however your composition looks best to you.


I imported my line-art from Flash and put it in Photoshop.  I
colored it using a method I’ll be sure to post later!


However, you could just as easily print out your line-art, or use the
line-art you drew by hand and color it with water colors, paints,
pastels, crayons, colored pencils.  However you want it to


(click to zoom)


Your methods are up to you.  If you feel you have something
better, or just something that works better for you, be sure to discuss
it with us on our forum!
Maybe you can add your own method as a tutorial here.

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