Listen to Skeleton Melde and buy some original Halloween art!
All Badges are $5 off!
All Inks and Full Colorcommissions are $10 off!
Both traditional and digital available! In your claws by Halloween!
*The Fine Print:* Digital Icons, Telegram Stickers, Ref Sheets, and Traditional Paintings are all full price. Additional fees still apply. Must be Halloween-themed, not just a cosplay. These are first-paid, first-served. Please do not send payment until I approve your commission!
For the next few installments of Tips and Tricks, I’m going to walk you through making a traditional media badge. This tutorial series will also go in depth into the world of illustrating with traditional media, especially the use of Copic markers. Each blog post will cover a different section of making a badge, so you can easily go back and re-read an individual part later! While this series is geared specifically towards badges, the vast majority of the tips are applicable for any marker-based traditional illustration.
Today's blog will cover the basics of what a badge is, all the materials you will need to make one, and then just the sketch portion!
What Is a Badge?
For this tutorial series, you will need:
Step 1: Sketching Tools
Like most illustrations, you are going to start with a sketch. I personally like work on some generic cardstock when I do badges, but most thick papers will do. Smooth bristol paper is an even better choice for ink and marker work because it is designed to hold up to the wetness of markers as well as provide a nice, smooth surface for ink-work. It also holds up much better to heavy erasing than anything else. Cardstock is like the cheaper cousin to bristol paper: it’s decently smooth and holds up better than computer paper, but it will tear up much faster if you aren’t careful, especially when erasing. However, I still feel the cost of bristol paper outweighs the benefits when it comes to small art pieces such as badges. If you are going to be erasing your sketch a bunch, I suggest biting the bullet and getting the more expensive bristol. Anything larger than a badge will definitely benefit from using bristol as well! I have also used index cards, both regular sized and large, for badges, but they are even worse than cardstock, so I don’t recommend them unless you’re in a bind!
TIP: There are many, many, many different kinds of paper on the market. Try out a bunch until you find one you like! However, for badges, make sure anything you use has a smooth texture! When you go to laminate, any bumps won't seal properly and you will get these weird air pockets that look super ugly. Things like vellum brisol paper and watercolor paper are terrible for laminated badges!
Step 2: Expressions and your Character
Before you can even begin sketching, you should have an idea of what expression you’ll be doing. Because badges are supposed to showcase the character, and are generally only headshots, the expression you choose becomes paramount. I like to push most badge expressions to their extreme, but doing angry or goofy faces are my favorite. If you get stumped on what expression to choose, a simple smile is always a good fallback. While smiles do get old after a while, I can’t tell you how many clients have specifically asked for “just a smile”! Some other expressions to consider: shy, smirking, open-mouthed smile, smug (how many S expressions are there?!)
Step 3: Can I Sketch Yet?
Almost! Take a brief moment to decide how large you are going to want your final badge to be. Your drawing should probably be about an inch smaller than that size. It doesn’t really matter what size you decide on because it’s your badge, but keep in mind that these are meant to be worn. Now, I have seen jumbo badges that are a full sheet of paper, and tiny badges that are the size of a business card or smaller, but I like mine to be about the size of my hand, or a large index card. Make sure you leave enough room around your drawing to be able to put in the name though! Keep in mind that you will be cutting out your drawing as well, so make sure the character doesn’t run off the edge of the paper. It’s always good to have at least a half of a centimeter leeway between the sketch and the edge!
TIP: If you struggle with keeping your art to a reasonable size, try cutting down your paper to whatever size you want! If I’m going to a convention where I know I’ll be busy with custom badges, I’ll pre-cut my cardstock into fourths to make sure I don’t accidentally make my badges all sorts of random sizes!
Once you have decided on your expression, get to sketching your character! If you’re doing a bust, don’t worry too much over how to finish off the area beneath the shoulders because that’s where the name is going to go. The only thing you should worry about is putting the character down onto the paper.
TIP: Draw LIGHTLY. You are going to be erasing this sketch eventually, so make sure you draw as light as possible. Drawing too heavily can leave “ghost” lines after you erase, or even intentions! Unfortunately, there is no simple fix for drawing too heavily; you can only fix it by practicing!
Step 3: Names and Lettering!
Much like with the expression, how you decided to write the character’s name will affect the entire feel of the badge. For bust badges, I like to put names on either a banner of some sort, or make the letters big enough to touch each other because I use the name as an easy way to finish off the awkward edge made by the end of the shoulders/chest. If you’re doing just a headshot or a full body badge, try making the location and style of the name relate to the image (especially for full bodies!).
Another thing to consider is the “font” of the letters. While you can always just write the name in your regular handwriting, designing something unique can really pull together the entire piece. Try tying your choice of lettering into the character’s expression or interests. For example, an aggressive character will be better suited for an aggressive-looking, scratchy font than a bubbly, vintage font.
That's all for today! Next week I will be going over inking your sketch, taking you one leap forward in completing your badge!
Hey all! I'm away from my computer for a couple of weeks (for my handfasting! YAY!), but there will still be posts! This week's is a bit shorter though.
This was a commission I recently finished up that you might have seen in some of my tutorials on here. It's a perfect example for many tutorials because it used so many different techniques and covered a lot of steps in my drawing process.
I also got to learn a few new techniques while working on this piece. I had never drawn a star field before, so I found a pretty cool way to do it so I didn't have to draw every single star individually! Super cool! If people are interested, I can do a write up on how I did that, or any of the steps in this drawing.
Click "Read More" to see a gif of the steps in progress!
It's the one thing all artists deal with sometime during their career. It's inescapable. Whether you're just starting out, or are professional, art block remains an issue. In this post, I am going to cover four ways to overcome the dreaded art block. These are by no means the only ways, but they are four that I persondgdgjally find helpful.
Go Back to Art School
I mean that figuratively, of course! You don't actually need to go to art school, but practically everyone could use more practice without worrying about completing a full work of art. Just do some practices reminiscent of the studies you would do in an art class, but you're the professor instead! Although it's possibly the most boring option, it's also one of the most productive, especially if you're like me and you are always forgetting just how to make a decent-looking foot. Some ways to "go back to art school" are:
Try Something New
Give your brain a rest by attempting a completely new kind of medium. If you normally draw digital, cartoon illustrations, try doing some watercolor paintings. If you have only ever worked in a 2D medium, buy some Sculpey clay and try your hand at sculpting! Hell, even doing some creative writing flexes a different creative muscle! Who knows, if you try writing a short story or poem, you might get inspired to illustrate it afterwards!
Personally, I generally work in Photoshop nowadays, but when I get worn out from staring at the screen, I like to go back to my traditional media roots. I find focusing on an acrylic painting gives me a fresh perspective and lets me literally stretch my art muscles by putting the paint on canvas. More often than not, halfway through a painting I will get so inspired to do a new digital piece that I have to stop painting and go back to Photoshop!
Trying out a new medium works because it keeps you thinking creatively. I could go in depth about how creativity works, but basically the more you do creative work, the more you will grow as a creative person and the easier it will be to come up with something creative. You won't necessarily better your technical skills with this option, but you will improve your imagination.
Follow Your Interests
If part of your art block stems from being bored of drawing your own personal characters or being worn out from commissions and gift art, try drawing other subjects in which you're interested. In other words, draw some fan art! I know, I know; it sounds silly, but it has merits, I promise. The wonderful thing about fan art is that you are using a character that is already designed, much like you would in a commission, only you don't have anyone to make happy other than yourself. You can play around with the characters' designs and you can draw these characters in any setting you want. On top of that, you already have an invested interest in the characters, so you should have an easier time getting excited about the drawing! That excitement will help push you through your art block.
With the recent popularity of Pokemon, I have been sketching some of the less popular Pokemon in my free time. I really love drawing these little guys because their designs are incredibly simple, at least in the first generation. Because they are so simple, I can focus my efforts less on getting the character correct, and more on doing my take on the character. I can go as wild as I want as long as the Pokemon is still recognizable. And, with my strong nostalgia from playing the game as a kid, I have an emotional investment in the characters so using them to practice is actually fun!
Even if Pokemon isn't your thing, consider drawing some art based on your favorite things, whether it be video games, movies, or novels!
Do A Meme
This option is going to sound even more silly than the fan art one, but it takes the excitement from the fan art option and the creativity-boosting nature of trying something new. I'm talking about art memes. If you've spent any time on DeviantArt at all, you've probably seen them. From the 100 Theme Challenge, to the 25 Essential Expressions Challenge, you can find an art meme for really anything you could possibly want. Go ahead an cringe at some of those last ones, I know I did. But if you actually stop to think about it, these memes can allow you to try out something new that you might not have done before. Take the 100 Theme Challenge that's been around for years. While a lot of the themes seem like they were thought of by that emo kid that always sat in the back corner of the classroom, have you actually drawn "No Way Out" before? What about "Innocence"? Or "67%"? I know I haven't drawn 67% before, whatever that means. But that's the cool thing about these otherwise ridiculous memes: they get you thinking in new ways. Much like how trying out a new medium can get your creative juices flowing, drawing your character how they would draw themselves is definitely a unique concept to think about. And because most of these memes are silly, you probably won't feel any pressure to draw your absolute best (though you still should try at least a little) or make sure everything is anatomically or compositionally correct. Don't take yourself too serious and just have fun!
Art block might be a pain to deal with, but it isn't an insurmountable issue! You just have to push through it. Hopefully one of these options will spark some creative thoughts that will have you back to drawing the art that you really want to do.
Requested by Oran and Crysalin! Thanks for the great idea!
While metallic textures in general have their own issues, flat, metallic items pose a bunch of unique problems. However, these problems are incredibly easily overcome through a few simple steps. I guarantee that you will be left wondering why it seemed so difficult after you read this!
This tutorial is not going to be media-specific, but I am using Photoshop CC and a drawing tablet for my examples. As always, click the images to view them bigger.
Are Flat Objects Really Flat?
One of the first things you need to determine is if the object you are coloring is actually flat. A sheet of paper is flat, a floor is generally flat, but things like a sword or a metal plate bolted on to a wall are not. What do I mean by this? I am considering something to be truly flat if it doesn’t have multiple planes, or at least not ones you can show in your drawing. AKA, two-dimensional objects. Generally, a floor is just going to be a single plane, unless it ends like on a balcony or similar structure. A standard fantasy sword however, is more like a squished rectangular prism. That metal plate bolted on the wall of your space ship is just an extremely flattened cube. They’re going to cast shadows and have highlighted planes, just like how your basic 3D shapes cast shadows and have highlights. This tutorial is going to cover items that *look* flat, but are actually three-dimensional. Some of the concepts can be easily translated into 2D objects, however.
The first thing is to do your sketch and get that inked, if you plan on using color. This entire tutorial can easily be done as just a sketch! I’ll be using a relatively flat machete from a recent commission for my example. Refer to my blog on “How I Ink with Photoshop” if you need some tips for inking your object.
While you are sketching, make sure you determine the location of your light source. For metallic objects, light sources are what determines nearly every part of how you handle coloring them. Even though you won't be able to tell how the light affects your object in the sketch stage, it's always good to have the finished piece in mind early!
TIP: If you have a habit of forgetting where your light source is, I suggest drawing a circle to represent it. You can always erase this circle after you’re done!
Got your light source sorted out? Good! Now this step is going to be incredibly simple, especially because we are working with flat planes. Think back to your basics. Remember shading a cube? We’re going to do that. Taking your light source into account, color and shade your object accordingly.
*If you are using a permanent media, or one you cannot add a lighter color on top of, such as markers, WAIT. (unless you have something like a gel pens or white pencils you can also use). Finish reading this tutorial before you begin coloring.
Your object should start looking a bit more fleshed out now, though it probably doesn’t look metallic at all.
Notice how in my example, I shaded darker towards the hilt, and allowed it to stay lighter near the tip. This is because of the angle I chose to draw the machete, as well as the placement of the light source. However, if your light source is not very strong, or it's ambiguous, I have found that shading in a gradient from hilt to tip can help make a blade look more metallic.
TIP: For an even more metallic effect, try to make your brush strokes parallel to each other. Metal often has a grain to it, that while it's not necessarily visible to the naked eye, can enhance the illusion of metallic shine. Even more so, reflections on metallic objects, especially flat ones, are often parallel lines of light and dark (unless you have a mirror or something extremely reflective!)
Now we can begin to add highlights and reflections to the object. This is why I had those of you using certain media to wait. You will color in the areas where the highlights do not hit and leave the highlights white.
Once again, remember your light source!
For my machete, I added some white highlights to the blade edge, not only because that is closest to the light source, but also because the sharpened edge is a slightly different plane than the rest of the blade and will therefore be affected by the light the same way as a cube face. I faded the highlight as the machete blade curves toward the tip because the light source is no longer hitting it the same way as the rest of the edge. I also added a thinner bright highlight to the very edge of the curve near the tip to create the illusion that the blade is extremely sharp.
TIP: If you are using markers, I like to use a white colored pencil for these highlights. If you are using a digital program, I suggest using a lower opacity for these.
In this stage we are going to add some light reflections to the object's shaded plane to even further push the metallic illusion. Remember, I shaded my machete the same way you would a cube, with the blade plane being lighter and the shaded, flat side being a different plane. You can chose to add as many reflections as you want, as your drawing dictates, but for my machete, I am only adding a couple.
Imagine if your light source has beams coming out of it like a cartoon sun. The highlights we are adding this time will be mostly parallel to those beams. In the case of my machete, they run perpendicular to the highlight on the blade edge that I added in the last step. While this might not always be the case in every drawing, it will generally work this way.
Using a very light hand, or a low opacity, add parallel lines on a shaded plane. It's generally best to add reflections like this to a plane that touches the highlighted plane, rather than the darkest plane.
TIP: Try making your reflection lines in pairs or trios of various thicknesses. I personally like to use pairs, with one line much thicker than the other one.
And now, the final touches! While we could leave the object just the way it is now, adding some bright highlights will EVEN FURTHER push the illusion of it being metallic. You can add these bright highlights anywhere that the light would create a brilliant shine, though I suggest you use them sparingly because they should POP! Think of these highlights of being that spot on a metal object where a flashlight would make a glare.
For these, you will want to make sure that your lines are thin. I would suggest treating them very similar to how you deal with inked linework, complete with tapered ends.
TIP: If you are using markers, consider using a white gel pen or white acrylic paint on a fine brush for these lines. Digital artists will want to make sure their opacity is set to 100%.
I chose to add my bright highlights to the break between the blade edge and the flat planes to better create the illusion that the blade is sharp. I also added one to reflection highlight on the flat side to suggest that the machete is both thin and sharp.
That's it! Not too difficult, right? The secret to metallic objects, especially flat ones, is creating the illusion that your object is made of metal. Unless you are doing a photo-realistic piece, all you need to do is convince your audience's mind.
If you have any questions, post in the comments on here, or hit me up on Facebook or on Twitter and I would be more than happy to answer them as best I can. And don't forget to subscribe so you don't miss the next blog!