One of the key aspects to character design is just that – the character. Sometimes, when having trouble figuring out a piece of clothing, or something similar, we find it helps to actually do a little character building and figure out just what that character looks like. In doing so, it becomes easier to know what that character will wear. Using a simple round brush, set to Pressure opacity, we’ve sketched a female elven girl, with a serious, piercing stare. From this, we can formulate out what she’d wear in comparison to her structure.
In this step, we’ve duplicated the elven girl image by using the Lasso tool (L) and making a selection around the face. After that, we copy (ctrl+c) and paste (ctrl+v) the face six times. Quickly and loosely, we paint in some very rough helmet variations for our project on top. We try to cover all bases here, and imagine as many different shapes as possible, painting thickly and opaquely, as this helps keep the design simple and solid.
After we have settled on a design, it’s time we get in a bit closer and figure out what this character looks like from a side angle. Here, we have split our viewing plane in half, so that it becomes easier to see the front design while we work on the side view. Also, we have taken the front view, and copy pasted it onto a new document, lowering the opacity. By doing this we can draw light lines, and observe then estimate an appropriate side view sketch with similar proportions to the frontal example.
For this step, we’ve slowed down a bit and shown just how to approach shading in the tone, or as it’s refered to the Value of the object we are painting. Since the helmet is round in shape, we can imagine that it will not be any different than another rounded metallic shape in terms of light reflection. As you can see in the demonstration of the greyscale ball, every rounded object has a local colour, an area where the light hits it the strongest, a terminator edge, and a reflected light.
Here, it’s time to begin putting the front and side together. We have started by simply painting-in in stages. First, we have painted a very light, linear sketch of a womans general shape and anatomy. For this, we have our brush’s opacity set to Pen Pressure, so as to control the flow of our paint. When that is finished, we pick a slightly darker grey, create a new layer, and create a very loose sketch on top of the lighter guidelines we have set out before.
Remembering what we’ve learnt about shape creation, painting thickly and opaquely, we begin to flesh out the design of our helm. Having a little trouble getting all of the pesky overlapping lines to disappear from using a round brush? For a change of pace, try one of photoshop’s default chalk brushes, for thicker application. Start to define small rudimentary details, like corners, edges and reflections. Painting these clearly will help define the latter stages of the object. Be sure to keep the values close together, as too much noise and stray brush strokes at this stage will only confuse you later.
After a lot of careful molding with our chalk brush, and even more zooming in close and zooming out far by pressing the z button, we’ve finally come up with our starting character – with her helmet largely figured out. This stage is critical. A good tip is to never paint a light too bright, or a dark too dark at this stage. Our goal here is to make the object look as clay-like as possible – for a reason which will be revealed later. For now, spend ample time smoothing out any stray lines, while keeping in mind the lesson we learnt in step four.
In many cases a painter will want to apply to a solid white background. In our case, since we’ve already made our front and side view for our client to look at, we begin to think about a beauty piece, which shows the object and character in an actual lit setting. This is in order to give the piece a certain mood. What we want is a clear difference between the background and foreground object. To do so, we have painted a black background and a sharp highlight on the helmet.