Tutorial of Character-Drawing
Posted 13 March 2007 - 06:08 AM
Okay. Welcome to my tutorial. I hope you learn something.
Today, we shall be drawing a character entirely in GIMP. We will not cover making a background, for there are endless possibilities for that. This is easier with a tablet, but it can be done with a mouse. resizable brushes are key to this tut, so if you don't know how to do those, go check out this tut and come back. This tutorial assumes that you know how to use the common tools and filters of the GIMP, such as Paths, Gaussian Blurring, Layer Modes, etc. Also keep in mind that you are free to name your layers however makes best sense to you. I personally like to have all layers serving the same general function (like outlines and guides and such) to have their "group" word first, so the outline of the left arm would be "Outline ArmL"
This is not an anatomy lesson. If you need one of those, Google something along the lines of "Drawing Proportions Tutorial" (sans quotes). We will go over a little bit of it when doing the face, because what I'm doing is sharing my techniques, and I have techniques for doing things like placing eyes. I will not, however, go over any explanation as to why I'm doing the face like that. If you are unsure about your character's proportions, call a friend in and ask for their opinion. They're likely to see something that you, as the artist, were oblivious to. I might not get along with my bro very well, but he's got an amazing eye for detail, and has more than once saved a piece of work from looking like ick.
Also, and this is important, the zoom feature is your friend! If you need to do details, zoom!
[/PRE-TUTORIAL RAMBLINGS AND EXPLANATIONS]
Get out your music-playing device/program of choice and put a playlist on that you find helps provide creative inspiration to you and fit the mood of what oyu want to draw. I never do art without my music on. Generally it helps to only have two or three songs on your "art playlists" max, so your thoughts don't end up jumping around, but if you've got a bunch of music of the same theme, then you could probably pull off more than that. Personally, I just need music to be playing. The mood or theme of the music doesn't make much difference to me. As such, my playlist for this is pretty big, and varys greatly (I got goth metal, a few oldies, alternative, and a bit of J-pop). I won't list it here, but songs that invoke emotions or just have a really good beat are ideal.
First, open a new image of your desired canvas size. I use 500x500 for most things. I would advise against making the image too big, since the style I use often produces well over 30 layers in a single picture. Fill it with white(#ffffff) or, if you shall be usign very light colors, medium grey (#808080).
Make a new layer, and name it "Guides". Change your foreground color to red (#ff0000), and select a slightly fuzzy brush. Shrink it down until you have something that does fine but easily visible lines. I used just one size up from the smallest setting. Now, draw a rough stick figure of your character's pose. Use simple shapes, and don't worry if your lines aren't too precise. You can deviate from them a bit when you get to the actual sketching. Feel free to erase and redo lines to your heart's content. This is the step where that is easiest.
Now, pick a body part or article of clothing that you want to draw first. Make a new layer and name it "Outline [bodypart]'", where "[bodypart]" is the name of the body part or clothing article you are doing the outline of. Set your foreground color to black (#000000), and begin sketching. Feel free to deviate some from the guides if somehting doesn't look right, and don't worry about getting it perfect. We'll begetting rid of these Outline Layers later. I like to make a layer for every body part and clothing atricle, but you can combine them however makes sense to you. When you get to the hands, be sure to do both of them on separate layers, and don't worry if you get the proportions a bit wrong. Just get the fingers in the position you want, then autocrop the layer and use the scaling tool to fix proportion problems. Same goes for feet, although this picture does not iclude them. Don't worry about facial features yet, but keep in mind that the more square or round your make your character's chin, the more masculine they will appear.
As you'll notice, I strayed quite a bit from the guides at some points. I also cheated when I made the hands by taking a pic of my own hand with my webcam and tracing it (but I traced it in GIMP, so I technically haven't broken the "pure GIMP" rule).
Now, hide your Guides layer. You'll probably never use it again, but save it just in case.
Now, pick the part you want to color first. I chose the skirt. Make a new layer, drag it to be above all of the Outline Layers if it isn't already, and name it something so that you will know what layer it is. Since the skirt has a bunch of layers, I named my layer Skirt L1. Get out your fuzzy brush, grow it a bit, and pick a color. You do not have to obey the outlines perfectly. They are merely there to guide you.
(Always go back and double-check for holes in your coloring. A good way to do this is to make a new layer just above the Background (Let's call it "Color Test"), and fill it with a color that stands out from your color scheme. Hide everything but your coloring layers. Anywhere the "test color" shows, you did not color sufficiently. I forgot to do that here, and not only did I miss the border of the crystal completely and have to fix it later, I constantly found myself going back and filling in little gaps that had not been filled all the way.)
Now, make a new layer, place it either below or above your first coloring layer depending on what makes sense, and color that part. Every time you change colors or parts, make a new layer. Don't bother with shading yet. That will come later. Be sure that you can't see any of your outline layers peeking out between your coloring layers. This will mean that some of your "dividing lines" shall be hidden, but for this step, that's alright.
Now, I shall introduce a technique I like to call a "Shading Plate". First, make a new layer and drag it up to the top of the stack. Fill it with medium grey (#808080), name it "Shading Plate", and turn it invisble. Make another new layer. Drag it up to be above the Shading Plate. and set it to "Overlay". Duplicate it three times. Name the four layers, from top to bottom, "Highlights 30%", "Highlights 70%", "Shadows 30%" and "Shadows 70%". Set the opacity of each layer to either 30% or 70%, depending on its name. From now on these Shadows and Highlights layers shall be collectively reffered to as "shading layers". Be sure to only paint on the Highlights layers with white, and the Shadows layers with black, unless for some reason your light is a different color, in which case adjust these colors as necessary. The top of your layers stack should look like this (there should be more layers below that, but every picture is different, so I shall just show you the necessary ones for this step):
Now, don't do anything to these layers directly, and always keep them at the very top of the stack. Any work you shall do with shading will be on duplicates of these layers, which you can move about to your whim. First of all, decide on a lightsource. I've always been fond of having it being above, to the left (our left) of, and either a little bit in front of or behind the subject. Pick the part of your character that you want to shade first, then duplicate the "Shading Plate" layer and drag it down to just above the part that will be shaded (keep it invisible). I'll start with the layers of that skirt. They blend in with each other too much. Rename it to clarify what part it is shading. Now decide what kind(s) of shading will be needed. If you are going to need strong highlights, duplicate the "Highlights 70%" layer and drag the duplicate down to just above the Shading Plate. If you need more subtle highlights, then use "Highlights 30%". Same thing for the Shadows layers. 70% is strong, 30% is not as strong. You may use one, two, three, or all four of these, but keep them in the same order of "Highlights 30%", "Highlights 70%", "Shadows 30%" and "Shadows 70%". For the skirt layers, I shall be just using "Shadows 30%".
Now use whatever methods you like to get the shading the way you want, then make the Shading Plate you are using for it visible and merge each shading layer down onto it, starting with the one just above it, and working your way up. If you start at the top one, you will ruin the hard work you've done on the shading, since the GIMP is finicky that way. Set your merged Shading Plate to "Overlay". The shading will not be as intense as it originally was. Don't worry aobut that for now. If you've used more than one shading layer, and there are places where they meet, then Gausian Blur it by a smallish number. Somewhere between 2 and 8 will usually do. You might want ot blur it even if it is only one shading layer, or the shading layers don't touch, just to make things smoother. If some of the shading spills out off of the surface you're shading, then simply paint the Shading Plate with medium grey (#80808) on the place(s) where the shading has "spilled" to clean it up.
Now, if you are happy with the degree of shading your Shading Plate gives, then leave it. If you are not, try duplicating the Shading Plate, and, if the shading then becomes too intense, adjust the opacity of the duplicate until you are happy with it.
(I played around with the colors of the dress a bit, since I did not like the way the shadows cast on one of the layers.)
Now, repeat the process for each part that needs shading. For boundaries (such as the line that separates her forearms from her upper arms), feel free to temporarily drag up the Outline layers and use them as guides. Leave the face alone for now. We shall get to that next.
(I played around with the colors some more. I like this color scheme better than the old one, but it may very well change again before I'm done. This is one big reason why you put different colors and different body parts on different layers. You can play around with the coloring to your heart's content.)
Alright. Face time. I like to start with the eyes. They define the mood of the facial expression, so if you make oyur eye's first, the nose, mouth, and, to a much lesser degree, the ears, should come naturally. First, decide on what kind of eyes you want your character to have. Angry eyes? Sad eyes? Big anime eyes? The posibilities are endless. Make a new layer just beneath your main Shading Plate layer, name it "Eye Base", and plot out all of the main "points" of one eye (the corners, the peaks of the major curves, etc.) with small dots. It currently does not matter where you do this; we shall be placing the eyes later, and if you made the eyes too big or too small, you can always scale them to the right size. Plot your eye as if the character were facing you directly, even if the character is facing at an angle. We'll fix the eyes to go with the angle of the head later, after we've finished working on them.
(My handwriting is awful. XD)
Now, get out your Paths tool. Put an anchor on each dot, remembering to close the path when you're done. Switch to "Edit" mode, and mess with the handles until you get the curves right. Feel free to move the anchors around as well until they make you happy.
Make a new layer above the Eye Base and name it something like "Outline Eye". Stroke the path you just made in black with a fine fuzzy brush; I used the second-smallest size, since I find that the very smallest gives one rather rough lines.
Delete the "Eye Base" layer, then create a new layer above the "Outline Eye" layer. Name it "Eye White" or something similar. Take your fuzzy brush and color in the eye outline with white. You do not need to follow the outline exactly. Now, you may delete the "Outline Eye" layer. Autocrop the layer, and drag it over to the face with the Move tool. Find the exact center of the head and drag a guide down to it from the top ruler. Got to [View] and make sure that "Snap to Guides" is NOT checked. Scale your eye until it is about a fourth as wide as the head is in the middle. Rotate if necessary (if you rotate it, be sure to autocrop it again afterward). Move your eye so it is about half its width away from the side of the head, and the center of the eye is lined up with the guide you put in place. Now, duplicate your eye twice. Move one so that it is touching the edge of the the first eye, then flip the other and move it so it is on the other end of the second eye. You should end up with a row of three eyes. Delete the middle one. Create a new layer and name it "Iris". Make a circular selection about one and a half times as tall as the Eye White layers are, and position it so its bottom edge and that of one of the Eye White layers are more-or-less lined up. Inside this selection, fill in the iris (that's the colored part of the eye). Make another, smaller circular selection int he very center of the iris, and fill it with black. This is the pupil. Don't worry about shading or highlights. We'll do that later.
Autocrop the layer, duplicate it, and move the copy over to the other eye. Then do an Alpha to Selection on either Eye White layer, Invert the selection, switch to the Iris layer on top of it, and clear the selection. You should be left with just the part of the iris that the eye reveals. Repeat with the other eye. Merge each Iris layer down onto its coresponding Eye White layer, then rename the layers something like "EyeR" and "EyeL". Make a new layer, and name it "Eyelashes". Decide what color hair your character will have. Once you've decided on that, go to the colo-chooser and pick that color. Also pick out at least one color that's a bit lighter than your main color, and one color that is a bit darker. This is very important if you do not want your character's hair to look "flat". No one has totally uniform hair color, and light will hit different strands in different ways anyway, depending on angle. First, take your dark hair color. Zoom in really close to the eyes, get out your tiniest fuzzy brush, and begin to draw eyelashes. Yes. We are drawing individial eyelashes. Unless your character is really tiny, it's subtle details like this that can really make or break a pic. And, like it or not, even guys have eyelashes. Only draw a few in the dark color, and try to make them in the general area that would be further from the lighsource. Switch to your main, and draw more, but more spread out and even. You can do this on a seprate layer if you think you might want to change the color scheme for that hair later, but I usually let hair mix colors. Don't worry too much about the eyelashes being even at this point, and try to draw them longer than they will actually be in the final product. We'll trim them down in just a bit. Next, use the light color, and get the parts nearer to the lightsource. Use the Eraser tool, a selection, a path, or whatever other method you choose to trim the lashes down to the right length. The longer they are, the more feminine your character will appear, but if they're too long, they'll look atrificial. Once you are satisfied with your eyelashes, lower the layer's opacity to taste (somewhere around 60% worked well for my picture), and if your character's face is at an angle, use a selection tool to float one set of eyelashes and make it a new layer, then drag it down to just above the corresponding Eye Layer, then autocrop both of them and merge them down onto their corresponding eye layers. If your character is facing the "camera" stright on, like mine is, then don't worry.
Now make a new layer and call it "Outline Nose". Draw the side of the nose that is further from the light source. It can be as simplistic or detailed as you like; just remember that we shall be replacing it with shading later. Be sure to leave enough room for the mouth and a chin.
Make another layer, and call it "Outline Mouth". Using whatever methods suit your fancy, draw your character's lips and, if their mouth is open, draw their teeth, too. It is not necessary to completely draw the outline for the upper lip.
Make a new layer and call it "Mouth" or "Color Mouth" or something like that. Put in the color for the lips on this layer. Now, hide the Outline Mouth layer and make yet another new layer. Name this one "Hair Back", and drag it down to behind the rest of the coloring layers. Now would be a good time to figure out your character's hair length and style. If it will be a complicated style ("complicated" being pretty much any hairstyle that is not just straight hair hanging down; I'm lazy and like giving my characters loose straight hair so that I don't have to figure out anything except for length and color), you may want to go and make a Guides layer or two to help you out. I advise that you use lines and/or arrows to indicate flow if you're going for anything with loops and/or ponytails. Use the same colors you did for the eyelashes, starting with the dark color, then moving on to medium and then light, and make the hair that is behind and/or has its roots behind your character's head, even if it will be covered by hair in front and not seen in the final product. Make sure that you do not leave any gaps, unless you want to have your character to have very thin-looking hair. Your "Color Test" layer will come in handy now. If you find that one of the shades is overwhelmign the others (like you have as many light strands as you do medium and dark ones combined), feel free to go back and even it out a bit with the other shades. [cheat]If you are having trouble getting all of the space by drawing the hairs one by one, then do what you can to cover as much space as possible with the individual hairs, then make a new layer beneath it and use the lasso tool to select the area the hair will take up. Fill the selection with your main hair color, then merge the "Hair Back" layer down onto it, and rename the new layer so that it is "Hair Back" again.[/cheat] Make a new layer above the "Hair Back" layer, and fill it with black. Set it to Overlay and adjust the opacity until you get something that is just a bit darker than what the front part of the hair will be (15-30% is usually good). This part of the hair, being behind the rest of it, will be in shadow, so it should be darker than the hair on the outside. Merge this layer down onto the "Hair Back" layer.
Now, make a layer above all of the layers pertaining to the head, neck and face. It will probably be above all of the other layers except for the base shading layers and Shading Plate. Name it "Hair Front". Start drawing your hair. Remember to do the dark strands first. Filling up gaps is not quite as important here, because we already have the "Hair Back" layer as a sort of safety net (See, there was a reason we did the parts that were goign to be covered by the front hair later! There's method to my madness... most of the time.), but if there are some places that really need to be filled, you can use the same cheat as before Start every brush stroke at the "part" of the hair (the place -- usually a line -- on top of the head where the hair goes in one direction on one side, and the other direction on the other side; some hairstyles, like mohawks, lack a part, in which case just start at the roots), otherwise it will look weird and messy. Hair should have body, so have at least some of it go up a bit from the top of the head. Don't worry too much if the hair gets a bit wild. You can always trim it with the Easer tool later.
(I added a shading plate around the fingers on the crystal. There wasn't enough contrast for my liking.)
Set up a Shading Plate above the Eye layers, and apply any shadows and/or highlights that you wish to include. You may want to add highlights directly to the pupil on the actual eye layers, since the shading plate won't effect pure white or pure black, and the pupil is most probably pure black. Once you have completed your Shading Plate, if your character is facing at an angle, then select and float up one side of your Shading Plate, make it a new layer, and drag it down to above the corresponding eye, and merge the Shading Plates down onto the eyes they shade.
Make a new layer above the Eye layers. Name it "Eyebrows". Do exactly the same thing you did with the eyelashes, but make eyebrows instead.
If you have your character facing at an angle, make sure that you have all of the aspects (eye white, iris and pupil, Shading Plate, eyelashes, eyebrows) of each eye in a layer separate from the other eye's, merge all of the aspects of each eye into a single layer for each, so that you have the right eye and its aspects on one layer and the left eye and its aspects on another, then autocrop both layers. Get out your perspective tool, and mess with each eye separately until you are satisfied. You may have to trim the edge of it a bit if that part should not be visible. See? I told you we'd fix up the eyes later.
(My character is facing us head-on, so that last bit with the perspective tool was not performed, as it was unnecessary. I also evened out the cheeks a little, and added a Shading Plate for the collarbone.)
Set up a Shading Plate beneath the "Hair Front" layer, and lower the opacity of the "Outline Nose" layer. We'll be shading the face now. Here is a guide to all of the places that will need shading, and how much to shade them.
Prepare yourself. This looks ridiculous.
1. The shadows between the eyelashes and eyebrows. The eyes are set into the skull a bit, so there will be shadows here most of the time . Generally, these shadows will be relatively light.
2. The shadowed side of the nose. This is where you will be doing the most defining of the nose's shape. Once you've gotten a general idea of the shape and location of the shaded side of your nose, hide the Outline Nose layer altogether. You likely won't need it again, but keep it just in case. The rounded part of the side of the nose should probably have some slightly darker shading on it than the rest, to accentuate the curve. Also, don't forget to shade the bottom part of the nose some.
3. Your nostrils and the strange little thing between your nose and upper lip. the strange little thing has some light shadows in the middle, and the nostrils will be two much darker spots on the underside of the nose.
4. The place where one lip ends and the next begins. Put a thin, dark shadow here, and make sure to account for the small dip in the shadow that the thing in the middle of the upper lip causes.
5. The upper lip. Some light shadowing is in order here, since the upper lip is tilted forward.
6. The lower edge of the lower lip. Both lips stick out a bit on the outer edges. Put a thin, light shadow here.
7. The dip between the lower lip and the chin. The more pronounced it is, the more masculine your character will look. For a very femminine character, it may be omitted completely, and in fact is left out in this character picture; I only included it here for reference.
1. The highlights beneath the eyes. As stated before, the eyes are set into the skull a little, so you'll want to make these highlights in most cases, unless you have a particularly odd lighting scheme. They should be on the light side. In fact, heavy highlighting only really occurs in one facial area.
2. The round parts of your cheeks. These stick out a tiny bit, and as such they should be lightly highlighted.
3. The highlighted side of the nose. Use light highlighting to carve out the rest of the nose's shape, but be more vague about it than with the shadowed side.
4. The curvy bit at the end of the nose. Use light highlighting to get the general shine, but use some thin, heavier highlights to mark where the most prominent curves are.
5. It's that thingy between your nose and your lip again. There should be some light highlighting on either side of that shadow we put there earlier.
6. Upper edge of upper lip. Same as on the lower edge of the lower lip, but with a highlight instead. Remember that the upper lip is shaped funny, though.
7. Your lower lip is tilted upward just a bit. Put some light highlighting here.
Add any finishing touches (like, um, maybe ears if they're not covered by the character's hair the way mine is. I'm sorry I can't help you with ears. I'm bad at 'em. XD), and, as far as I can tell, you're done! Make everything but your color layers and shading plates invisble, crop your image to taste, and save your pic as a *.PNG file (because *.PNG supports transparency where *.JPG does not and *.GIF only makes a feeble attempt, and it preserves color where *.JPG and *.GIF both phail miserably). You can now use your character for almost anything. Give it a background, put it in a sig, print it out and stuff it up someone's nose... the possiblities are endless.
So, what do you think? Post your results, too, if you try it.
NOW I know what I forgot (I knew I was forgetting something important)! I didn't include a part on how to do ears. I'm not gonna add one, because frankly, I can't draw ears well at all. Those proportions tutorials on Google might help, though. >_>
Posted 13 March 2007 - 08:27 AM
Ocelot Sig Tutorial - http://www.gimptalk....hp?f=14&t=34712
Posted 13 March 2007 - 02:47 PM
Posted 13 March 2007 - 08:14 PM
Although... I'm a girl... and being called "man" makes me feel just a little bit awkward.... >_>
Posted 15 March 2007 - 03:57 AM
Haha, that's what I was wandering.. :w: So.... I guess I'll have to say girl.
Nice tutorial girl! Lol =P
Posted 20 March 2007 - 12:21 AM
It always amazes me how differently people go about these things. You certainly work in a very different way than I do; I could never keep track of all those layers for example -- I'd have great trouble knowing which one to correct later, so I don't separate the body parts on separate layers, only the shadows and the colours go on separate layers.
Your method to produce a clear and crisp result through gradual layer adjustments is methodical and seems easy to follow. Your face-planning was also an interesting touch. I'm not overly convinced that it's really nessecary to go for circular selections and marks when you work with such a small image though. It seems to me to be an unessecary complication when you have round brushes large enough to just stamp down where you want them. Also, I suppose you have a rather old computer, for I experience no slowdown working on an A4 at 300DPI. A large canvas has the advantage of being able to be printed at high resolution (at least 300DPI is needed for this), but of course it's no fun if your machine can't handle it. ;-)
That said, I hope people try this out; will be interesting to see what results will come of your method of character drawing! Thanks for sharing.
Posted 20 March 2007 - 12:29 AM
Thanks for commenting, by the way. I'm honored. ^_^
Posted 11 April 2007 - 10:01 AM
Posted 03 August 2007 - 04:16 PM
This was the first thing ever that I did and I did it with a mouse. I dont think it looks that bad. (Sorry, I didnt read the tutorials that you posted, Im more of a hands on person and thats probably why it took me so long to complete it.)
Posted 18 August 2007 - 11:28 PM
It actually kinda makes me feel bad that you thought that I made this tutorial with that kind of mindset.... :s: