The Explorers

I recently completed this personal piece and I thought I’d share some of my process.


1. I start off with a series of small thumbnail sketches to explore composition


2. Using my thumbnail sketch as a guide I produce a larger more refined sketch. At this stage I also do a quick value study to help me see if the composition is working. I feel that doing a value study is a really important part of the process. It really helps me to see if a piece is working, or if I need to go back to the drawing board. I usually also end up making adjustments to the composition that I otherwise may not have noticed if I was just looking at my line work. I try not to skip this step because it can be a huge time saver having all my values figured out before I start adding colour. I find it also gives me the confidence going forward in the final piece knowing that the composition is working.


3. Normally, the next step in my process is doing the final line work before moving into colour. For this piece I decided to try blocking in all my colour flats right over my sketch. My thinking was that it could help save me time later fiddling with colouring my lines, and help give me a more flat stylized look I wanted to try and achieve with this piece. At this point I wasn’t too concerned with getting the colours exact, as I would adjust those in the next step after everything was blocked in.


4. After all the colour flats were blocked in, I adjusted them to get the hues and values I wanted. After that I dropped in some basic general shadows.


5. Deepening and refining the shadows, and adding some texture


6. More refining of shadows and adding some highlights


7. Deepening shadows and bringing up highlights


8. Adding final dark accent shadows and some small crisp bright highlights


Here is a little animation that shows all the stages together: