In the years when I’ve been active with art, I create a holiday themed pinup. This year, my pinup features one of my favorite animated characters, Jessica Rabbit. In this piece, I wanted to include a few storytelling elements and some background, and really take the time to put together a full digital composition. It was drawn and painted entirely in Photoshop on my Wacom Cintiq. Here’s a little insight into the process. It’s really a standard comic art process, with a line art phase, followed by paint. 

Sketches

First, I do some sketches. I need to remember what kind of features will create a likeness of Jessica Rabbit, and fortunately for me, they are many of the same features that create a Marilyn Monroe likeness (my other project right now). I also experiment with a few poses.

Refining Line Art

I’ve chosen a pose, and know how to draw Jessica. So now I make a more accurate drawing. A little roughness is still allowed at this stage, but it needs to be clear which lines I’m planning on keeping. This will save lots of time in the “inking” or final line art stage.

Final Line Art

This is one step where I really appreciate Photoshop. In traditional media, it’s very hard to correct mistakes or change your mind in this phase. Photoshop takes longer, but it has an erase function! Using Photoshop brushes, I create my final line art, adding some background details too. 

Color Flats

There’s nothing interesting or creative about putting down color flats, but it saves tons of time when it comes to making selections during coloring.

Color Comps

In this phase, I shrink the image down, and try out a few experimental color palettes. I select the one in the middle, because it feels like Brett Parson’s Tank Girl, which I’m in love with right now. 

Paint

Finally, it’s time to paint. 

I try to use a simple painting approach, with some cel shading, and not overly soft or rendered. This is an early paint that I scrapped because it was getting too rendered and mushy. 

Here’s a crisper re-do of the above. Now we are on the right track. 

With the main character mostly rendered, I add shading to the background. Throughout the whole process, I’m trying to make sure to separate planes, to really make the character pop from the background. 

With most of the painting done, I go in and paint color holds–colors that go over the line art. This softens the image and adds extra depth. It’s also something that Brett Parson does a lot, so it can’t hurt. 

From here, getting to the final image involves adding effects and adjustments. Stepping away for a day or so at a time helps too, as you can come back with fresh eyes. 

Thanks for reading! If you find all this process stuff interesting, make sure to follow me on Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/jwebsterart/