Here is the process of designing this year's Halloween card! I'm also making my full-sized .psd files available for everyone! This one is a bit different from normal though, because I am using a template from moo.com where I got this year's cards printed (I recommend their business cards, high quality!). Normally, I work on much larger canvases, but this template is only 1263x1795px at 300 ppi.
Getting Ready to Draw
First, I created a nice work area for me by creating a folder for all of my art layers below the Artwork Guidelines folder. I decided I wanted to keep it all tidy that way! I also changed the template's "Your Design Here" layer to simply "White BG" and locked it. I normally create a background layer of white and draw anything else on a transparent layer above it, that way I can have a nice clean look, but I can also change the background if I want to later. Make sure you lock the background layer so you don't accidentally draw on it! I also hid the Artwork Guidelines layer as I didn't need them, collapsed the Artwork Guidelines folder, and locked it. I decided to leave the actually guides visible right now, though you don't have to if you don't want. If you don't have a lot of memory, you can merge or even delete these to help save space, but remember that you do need to have the proper bleed area in your design!
TIP: You can use any color as your background layer, or even a texture if you want something unique! If staring at a white screen hurts your eyes, try changing the background to a tan or light grey so there isn't such a contrast!
Doing the Art
This is pretty straightforward. Sketch your design, Ink, and Color! I started with a traditional sketch in my sketchbook, just because I got the urge to draw when I wasn't around my computer. Because my scanner isn't yet set up, I ended up just taking a photo of my sketch and uploading that to my computer. I then opened it up in Photoshop and copy/pasted it into my template, making sure it was in the Art folder.
To ink, simply lower the opacity of your sketch, create a new layer, then draw over your sketch with nice clean lines. For this design, I decided to try out some new brushes I've picked up over the last few months. I wanted a more grungy appearance than my usual super clean lines. During the inking stage, I also make any edits that I feel the design needs to make it look even better. Most of this was fixing the incredibly uneven right side! If you want to see the inks by themselves, I used them for my first Inktober drawing!
The next step is to do your flat colors. I like to create a new folder for the color, just to keep things organized. Color layers are normally the bulk of my layers, so putting them in their own folder allows me to close the folder to easier work on the finishing touches later. The exact number of layers you'll need will vary between pieces, depending on how many different colors you need and how much detail there is. For my Halloween card, I ended up with four layers for the flat colors, plus one for the card's background.
TIP: Plan ahead! You can use layers now to help make shading easier later. Even if two neighboring areas of your piece are going to be the same color, you still might want to put the flats on their own layers if the shadows are going to be vastly different. This allows you to not be as careful when shading!
It was at this stage that I also added in the text for my card, but it was mainly for planning purposes before I got too far along in my design. I wasn't even sure I was going to have text at this point, but I think it worked out!
For shading, I made liberal use of Clipping Masks. This is why I was very particular with the layers for my flat colors. In retrospect, I should have made a separate layer for the lower jaw flats as I was having issues keeping the shading separate from the upper part of the skull! If you don't have a lot of memory, this is a stage that may cause you issues. Instead of being able to have a bunch of layers with their clipping mask layers, you may have to work on one shading layer at a time and merge with the flats when finished with that layer. As I mentioned earlier, having many layers can make Photoshop take up a lot more of your computer's memory than it should.
Preparing for Printing
If you used the template from moo.com, you should have the correct settings for their needs. If not, or if you are using a different printing company, be sure to check their website for the settings you need. You should always check to see what a company needs first because things like color mode, resolution, and image size can all cause problems in the end if you didn't use the correct ones while drawing. For example, some companies require RGB and some require CMYK, and it is impossible to change these settings in the end without losing some of your original color quality!
If you have text, be sure to pay special attention to how they want the settings for those! Due to how my textures went over my text, I simply flattened my image and submitted it as if it were a photograph.
The Final Product!
This is the final product that I sent out this year to anyone who signed up! I couldn't be happier with how they turned out. The printed version looks exactly like my original drawing (even if my own photo washed out the colors a bit). I love doing these every year as a thank you for supporting my art throughout the year, so if you missed this year's, be sure to keep an eye out next year to get one for free.
I also have this year's edition available for sale for $5 each at my online shop. They're a numbered limited edition of 50 so don't miss out! They're professionally printed on high quality paper stock and come with brown kraft paper envelopes so you can mail them to anyone you would like! Inside is a fun Halloween poem about witches and good luck.
I'm excited to offer artistic liberty, Halloween-themed commissions this year! Limited slots!
You can choose between gory, sweet/cute, and were-monsterify, OR tell me your favorite part about Halloween and I'll create your art based around that! Then simply provide me your character and the rest is a surprise!
Badges $5 off!
Line Art, Flat Color, and Shaded commissions $10 off!
Both traditional and digital available! Completed by Halloween!
Email me at dragonmelde(at)gmail.com to get one!
*The Fine Print:* Digital Icons, Telegram Stickers, Ref Sheets, and Traditional Paintings are all full price. Additional fees still apply. These are first-paid, first-served. Please do not send payment until I approve your commission! Traditional media physical pieces may not reach you before Halloween, though the art will be finished.
Fangcon Pre-order Specials
Fangcon Preorders are OPEN! Limited spots!
I'll be in the Dealer's Den this year, so even if you can't get a pre-order you can still stop by and see me there!
Email me at dragonmelde[at]gmail.com if you are interested!
You can find more examples in my gallery. Comment or email if you have any questions!
Choice of digital or traditional badges in any style
$5 off 2
$13 off 3
Digital: $65 value
$55 preorder price!
1 Digital Shaded Bust Badge
1 Digital Shaded Color Pinup
Traditional: $80 value
$70 preorder price!
1 Traditional Bust badge
1 Traditional Pin up
Payment can be done either via Paypal or Bitcoin in advance, or at the convention in cash or credit (wifi permitting).
*If you order a commission and do not pay or pick up:
I retain the right to charge extra fees for mailing after the convention. I also retain the right to edit and resell any unpaid commissions where possible after adequate notice has been given to the commissioner. I will not resell anything which has been paid for, or if unpaid, can be easily identified as your unique character.
Digital BADGES will be printed/laminated for con delivery. ALL OTHER DIGITAL WORK WILL BE SENT VIA EMAIL ONLY (aka no physical copy delivered at the con)
Complex Character fees still apply.
Don't forget to sign up for a Halloween Card!
Sign-ups are only open until October 6! Don't miss out!
Follow this link for more info!
My Halloween cards are back this year after a few year hiatus! This year I want to get them professionally printed, so the quality will be better than ever! Because I want to get them printed, I will have to cut off the sign-ups by October 6th. This should give me plenty of time to order them and then mail them anywhere in the world so they will get to you by October 31!
Each card is basically a free, small print of my original art, with a handwritten note on the inside! Like a Christmas card, but for Halloween! It's a surprise what the art will be, but it will be NEW for this year!
To have a card mailed to you, simply send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your physical mailing address. I'll mail the cards out around October 19 so keep an eye out after then! If you are outside of the US, please make sure to format your address exactly how it should be written on the envelope to make sure it gets to you! (I have had issues in the past with some overseas cards never arriving, so be sure everything is correct!)
If you want to help out with the cost of printing and stamps, I am accepting donations via either my Ko-fi (https://ko-fi.com/dragonmelde) or directly to my Paypal (email@example.com). Everyone who donates will get an extra special sketch in your card! Please let me know in the Paypal/Ko-Fi comments that it's for Halloween and include your character's ref if you want. Every dollar helps!