Blog Digital Ink Work Progression

Redraw DinoRide 4

StegoRide 011

I have been sick for the last week and a half. You would think that I would be drawing the entire time I am sitting around. Drawing actually can take a lot of energy out of you, and today is the first day I felt up to even picking up my stylus.

This image has been sitting around for some time now. My next step will be to add the riders on the back of the stegosaurus, as well as the stick and carrot.

Blog Helpfull Information Work Progression

Various Stages Of “Finish”

When I talk about “finish” I am referring to a combination of two different things: The amount of effort you put into finalizing an image, and the type of style you use to polish it up. I know that’s a very vague way to describe things, but it’s the best explanation I can currently think of.

I am going to take the time to talk about polish and detail, at least as it pertains to how I generally make art. I still get into my sketchbook every now and again, but just about everything I do is digital. I predominantly use Corel Painter 12. Sometimes I experiment with other techniques too, but I’m going to talk about the ones I use the most. There are not hard rules when it comes to art, and you are free to like/use whatever methods you like.

When I talk about “finish” I am referring to a combination of two different things: The amount of effort you put into finalizing an image, and the type of style you use to polish it up. I know that’s a very vague way to describe things, but it’s the best explanation I can currently think of.

I may be adding more images/information as I find more time. ***just in the writing of this post I have gone back to my painter file to add more variations as they have come up.

*** EDIT *** I have added captions to each image to clarify what steps were taken for each one. This is to keep things straight because the images are not a direct progression.

Rough Sketch

A rough sketch is pretty straight forward. You’ve got the shapes and construction lines. (like the circle I used as a basis for the head, and the quick line used to first define how the neck is bent) You will see bits x-raying through other parts of the body. (the tail through the front wing) Also there is a distinct lack of fine details. Normally I use a pure white background, but for the purposes of this post I have used a coloured fill layer as the background.

dragon - rough
rough sketch

This is also the step where you will most often crumple up the page and toss it. It is the best point to do that. You can polish up a drawing all you want, but if you hate the base sketch then you are going to hate anything that comes from it. Don’t get discouraged though; look at some reference and take another swing at it.

Refined Drawing

I sometimes skip this step when going to an inked drawing. I will ad-lib the details while I ink. (I haven’t decided if that is efficient or lazy) Other times I will take the time to refine the image.

If a penciled image is what you want then take the time to clean up the sketch, removing messy lines and adding more specific details. (like the banding on the horns and adding the claws.) You can spend a load of time cleaning up and adding detail, it just depends on how much you want to add. I sometimes make the rough layer somewhat transparent, and trace a cleaner version onto a new layer.

dragon - refined
refined sketch

Flat Colours

Do you want some flat colours laid down underneath the sketch layer?

dragon - refined colour
refined + flat colour

Pencil Shading

Pencil shading can look great and really help to make a drawing feel more solid. (with or without the flat colours underneath)

dragon - refined shade
refined + shading
dragon - refined colour shade
refined + flat colour + shading

Pencil Highlights

And here is the reason I used a coloured fill layer. It allows me to use a white pencil to add highlights. To make a pencil drawing really pop off the page I can add some highlights using a white pencil. This really does help to make the various parts of a character feel 3D. The fill layer isn’t important if you are using flat colours, but I’m leaving it there for consistency.

dragon - refined shade highlight
refined + shading + highlight
dragon - refined colour shade highlight
refined + flat colour + shading + highlight


I am very partial to strong ink lines. Corel Painter 12 has a class of tools/layers called ‘liquid ink’. I use a hard, flat caligraphy pen. I use the pressure of my wacom pen to determine the scale of the brush. In my younger days I went through a lot of paper. I would tape my drawings to a window, and tape a second paper over top, and then trace the image.

dragon - inked

Base Colours

Because I inked the image, I would have skipped the flat colours, shading and highlights of the pencil images. So again we have the option to lay down some flat colours…

dragon - inked colour
inked + flat colour

or we can blend in some colour.

dragon - inked blend
inked + blended colour


I sometimes add a texture layer. I will set it to overlay and paint in the darker and lighter bits to get a texture. It can be very time consuming, and I will admit that for the purposes of this post I didn’t spend as much time on the scales as I could. (Even now I am resisting going back and changing it. Sometimes you just have to allow yourself to go with ‘good enough’ and not ‘perfect’.)

dragon - inked colour texture
inked + flat colour + texture
dragon - inked blend texture
inked +blended colour + texture

There are many techniques for shading. I will talk about the three that are my preferred methods.


This is called hatching. (even when you aren’t drawing dragons or birds…) I don’t really like to idea of mixing the hatching with the previous texturing. I just don’t think they mix well… but you are free to do it if you want.

dragon - inked hatch
inked + hatching
dragon - inked colour hatch
inked + flat colour + hatching
dragon - inked blend hatch
inked + blended colour + hatching

Two-Tone Shading

The next technique has a few names. I call it two-tone shading. When I do this I will always add the highlights and rimlights because I think it looks best that way. First I will use a multiply layer and add the shadow colours with a solid round brush with no scale variation. I basically do the same with the highlights, just with a screen layer and different colours. The rimlights are on a separate screen layer, and I use a coloured pencil around the edges.

dragon - inked colour tone
Inked + flat colour + two-tone shading
dragon - inked blend tone
inked + blended colours + two-tone shading
dragon - inked colour texture toonSHR
inked + flat colours + texture + two-tone shading
dragon - inked blend texture toonSHR
inked + blended colours + texture + two-tone shading

“Smudgie” Shading

I don’t have a name for this one, but let’s just call it smudgie shading. I will sometimes use a something akin to a grease pen tool and blend the shadows and highlights. It takes more time, but it has a nice painted look to it. I use the same layer setup as with the two-tone shading.

dragon - inked colour soft
inked + flat colour + smudge shading
dragon - inked blend soft
inked + blended colour + smudge shading
dragon - inked colour texture soft
inked + flat colour + texture + smudge shading
dragon - inked blend texture smudgeSHR
inked + blended colour + texture + smudge shading

If you are looking for an artist that can deliver any of the above styles for any project (poster, webcomic, clipart, childrens book…) I am happy to discuss your particular needs.

Blog Work Progression

Redraw DinoRide 3

StegoRide 003

I was planning on a prehistoric jungle scene for this… but I have decided to put it in an urban setting. I will be putting kids riding on the back later.

Blog Work Progression

Redraw DinoRide 2

StegoRide 002

Working on this image again today. I didn’t like my last attempt as much as the original, so I’ve gone back to something a bit closer to the original. Next time I work on this I will be working on the background.

Blog Doodles/Sketches Work Progression

Redraw DinoRide 1

SteggoRide 001I am redrawing DinoRide. It will become part of a larger poster. Here is my first pass at the stegosaur

Blog Digital Paint Work Progression

Brushing Progress

dinosaurBrushing.002This is about 1.5 hours worth of work. I refined my drawing on a new layer. Those are the black lines, and that layer will be removed in the final illustration. I am using multiple layers and the preserve transparency option. I’ve got the body as a single layer, the mouth/tongue as a second, the teeth as a third, the snout as a fourth, and the eyebrows as a fifth. To make the edges of layers match up (body/eyebrows/snout) I keep the ‘preserve transparency’ on, and also turn on the ‘pick up underlying colours’ option. then I smear the lower layer colours onto the upper layer. With pick up turned off, Painter picks up black from the ether, so sometimes you get black smudges near the edge of a layer when you are using preserve transparency. If you have preserve transparency turned off then it’ll pick up white. Why the difference? I have no clue.

The colours off to the side are so that I can keep returning to a specific colours and shades.

Blog Digital Paint Doodles/Sketches Work Progression

Pirate Progression

pirate.002I’ve spent about an hour playing with this picture. I keep going back to the smudge tool because I like how it feels and looks. I discovered a feature in painter12. You can set “preserve transparency” to true or false. When it’s on you can’t paint on a transparent area. So what I’ve been doing with this picture is to paint a flat colour for each section of the picture. For example: the moustache. Then I turn on preserve transparency. Then I can paint and colour and smudge to my heart’s content without worrying about staying in the lines.

Blog Doodles/Sketches How To Draw Work Progression

More Trees

I do a lot of characters, and not enough scenery/buildings/machines.

forest-sketchWhen sketching a scene I usually start with a thumbnail: a small doodle to get the general idea of the layout. In this case I took the thumbnail and expanded it to be much larger. What is shown here is only 20% of the full-sized picture. The thumbnail started even smaller than this. Once I scaled it up I added a few details.

forest-valuesI used a layer behind the sketch to paint in the basic values. I haven’t always done this, but it’s a habit I’m getting into.

forest-shadingMore layers were used to add shading and highlights

forest-colourFinally I used another layer to paint the colours over the values/shades/highlights. It uses the colour from the top layer and the light/dark from the layers underneath.

This took just under an hour. That included googling various trees, plants and fungi. I may choose to come back to this picture another day.

Blog Digital Paint Work Progression

DinoRide Progress Report 4

dinoRide.005I haven’t worked on this picture yet today. Here is where I am at. There was work done on the boy in front and on the carrots. I also spent a little time cleaning up the edges of the dinosaur. I also raised the carrots up so that the dinosaur was looking more directly at them.dinoRide.005-detail

Here is a closer look at the carrots. I’ll be painting the string holding them later, once I decide on what kind of background I’ll use. If I use a white background I’ll use black for the string, a dark background and I’ll use white for the string.

Blog Digital Paint Work Progression

DinoRide Progress Report 3

dinoRide.005 I have finished working on the dinosaur for now. I’ll start in on the boys next. I’m really enjoying how this picture is turning out.

Since yesterday I have been painting right on top of the single layer. Painter12 has a canvas layer on the bottom. I try not to paint on that so that I can always put another layer under what I’m working on. Once I have my base colours and shading I use the “real2B pencil” to refine the overall look. I use my trusty smudger (a variant of the “grainy water” tool) to smooth the colours out and mix them in. It gives it nice transitions and distinctive brush strokes at the same time. I’ll add in highlights and shadows and smudge as needed. The final highlights are not smudged in. The edges are defined with a darker colour. Once I’m done everything I’ll go back and erase the mess outside the edges. Other details are added as needed. Here is a closer look at the head/neck so you can see some of what I’m referring to.dinoRide.005-detail

I keep saving as newer versions in case I really foul things up and want to go back to an earlier version. Sometimes the undo command just isn’t enough. To post the pictures I save as a jpeg and scale it down. That saves on file size on the webpage. Once I’ve got the final thing I’ll save it as a full size version so that I can add it to my portfolio.