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December 2012

December 2012 -- Stars



  • Artist Spotlight:
    Interview with Ellen Million aka The Boss
  • Behind the Art:
    Stars: A Walkthrough


  • Stars
  • Parting Gift -- A Marker Walkthrough
  • Tubes - Let Your Art Star in Digital Crafting
  • The End is Near
  • Stardancer Walk-through: A Traditional/Digital Mixed Media Approach


  • Poem: Revontulet (Fox Fire)

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  • Parting Gift -- A Marker Walkthrough
    by Erika Harm

    This is a small walkthrough of my marker technique. I will be showing some of the ways I use markers with the piece "Parting Gift." It's not quite everything I do, but it is most of it.

    Pen and Line Art
    I always do line art in archival waterproof ink. If the ink is not waterproof, you run the risk of your lines running or smearing when you color over with marker. I don't have a particular preference of any brand: Copic and Micron are popular and I like those. I'm not partial to dip pens or brushes, but if you are, just make sure your ink is archival and waterproof. Also, if you're clumsy like me and spill things on your art periodically, your paper may be ruined, but your line art will stay in the same place! Then you can salvage it for a digital coloring.

    Deciding Color
    I color a couple of small thumbnails based on the line art before I start coloring the real thing. Sometimes I color the line art quickly in Photoshop just to get a sense of where I want lights and darks, but not usually since I might not have the same shades as what I can create in Photoshop. For this piece, and most other projects, I make small blocky thumbnails using my markers.

    Working in Reverse -- Dark to Light
    In digital painting and in watercolor, I start with the background, but alcohol based markers behave differently than most other materials. I find it easier to control the color when I color figures first, and work out toward the background for last. I also find it easier to work dark to light in marker, where in other materials it's vice versa.

    Since alcohol based markers are designed to blend, going dark to light allows me to build layers and ensure smoother gradients than with non-alcohol markers. The below example shows the darkest hue I use in Belle's dress, and how I progressively overly lighter and lighter tones. I usually have at least three shades: A dark, mid and light tone. In this purple dress, I have a dark purple, a mid range pink and a light pink, however I also have a light purple that washes over all previous tones to try and unify the blending, and give the pinks a softer tone.

    Here's another example of blending dark to light. I start with a dark purple, layer over a dark brown, then darkish red, then finally a normal red. I also ran the colorless blender (copic, I find the prismacolor colorless blender not to work as well) to blend the shades better and give more texture.

    Colorless blender
    The Copic colorless blender is great for transitioning colors that don't blend well enough on their own, or for blending a light color into the white of the paper. Below is an example. I start with a pink for the dark shade, and a light dusty purple for the mid tone because the white will be the lightest tone. I run the blender over the colors a few times to diffuse the colors and spread them out, thinning them out so the ink blends more subtly into each other and the paper.

    White Gel Pen
    You might notice my marker bleeds out of the lines a bit, which I don't stress over. If it bleeds a light color into a dark area, I can just run the dark color over it. When a dark color bleeds into a light color, I use a white gel pen to correct and to highlight because it's mostly opaque ink, but can be smeared to be transparent as well and lighten parts up. The below is an example of using the white pen for both correction and highlight. I use the white pen directly to correct the dark bleed onto Belle's sleeve, and also highlight and embellish to make it look more lacy.

    Here's another example of using the white pen to highlight. I have dark shades of grey (70% and 50% grey copies I think) for all of the hair. I then smeared the white gel pen to get a lighter tone. Not smearing and using the white pen directly gives the brightest highlights. I also go over some details with an old fine point pen in this case.

    Using these techniques, this is the finished drawing. Thank you for reading!

    Erika Harm

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