Friday, October 5, 2012

Decisions, decisions . . .

When I last posted, I had just figured out the composition for an illustration to accompany chapter one of my middle grade novel-in-progress.  My next step was to play with the image in Photoshop, a software with which I still feel pretty unfamiliar--especially when it comes to using brushes and layers, and see if I could come up with an appealing (and efficient) style.

Okay, so here's the sketch that I used for the background layer in Photoshop (click on images to see them in their full glory):


I first tried a fairly inky style.  I have an Intuos 4 tablet and was please with the similarity of sensation as the black seemed to flow onto the image with my hand strokes.  Nice to be able to erase mistakes so easily.  That said, I spent a lot of time cross-hatching and erasing.  After a few hours, I was getting a little impatient with the process.  Sure, it's more forgiving.  But inking in Photoshop is taking me as much time as it does with pen and paper.  I decided to speed things up with a shading shortcut:

Not sure how I feel about it.  Clearly, I have adjustments to make.  For one thing, the image loses a lot when scaled down.  For another, the flatness of the shading is too much at odds with the line detail.  If I go this route, I will simplify the line work more than enhance the shadows to make the two elements coordinate better with each other.  Simpler will likely reduce better and, more importantly, I can't have each black and white novel interior illustration taking over a week to finish.  Not with the number I'm hoping to produce for this book.  But perhaps I'm just being too ambitious about that.  After all, I do have a day job, and other books to finish writing . . .

As I was fiddling around with my new tools, I came across the wonder that is the pressure sensitive brush.  I am in love.  This brush only works properly with the Intuos stylus, not with a mouse.  The line on the screen changes with the pressure I apply with the stylus.  I have spent the better part of today drawing a layer with a hard round 5 px brush that produces an effect similar to an H pencil, but without smudges all over the place (or the need for highly toxic fixative spray).  This drawing has the background layer with the original scanned drawing visible because I think the two images blended together makes for a more realistic pencil effect:




This makes for a softer image, and I'm not sure that fits with this particular story.  Must think on it.  Also, this tool is not saving me any time either.  *sigh*

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