by Eddy on June 30, 2009

in character design,process,sketches,vector

Once the Illustrator artwork is complete it’s exported as a .psd file and opened up in Photoshop where each layer is converted to an adjustment layer (a solid colour with a mask).
I use texture brushes that have a nice serrated line to soften the edges of the shadows. This contrasts nicely with the smooth edges elsewhere. The sky texture is a scan of some ink sprayed with a toothbrush.



Here it’s has been redrawn in Illustrator with the pen tool (with each element on a separate layer). I then work out the values using various percentages of grey (10%, 20% etc). This gives me an idea of the darkest and lightest parts of the illustration. The values might change once i start applying the colour but it gives me a general direction.

Then I begin thinking in terms of colour. To test out various colour schemes I sometimes create a simplified version of the artwork. In this case its reduced to four basic shapes: sky, space suit, boots and landscape. I fill these with colour and use Illustrator’s Live Color feature and try out different combinations. I eventually settled on a complementary scheme (blue and orange).


The sketch was scanned and printed out at A5 size. Placing a sheet of detail paper ( a type of soft tracing paper) over the top i redrew it refining the lines and adjusting the size. As you can see the sketch (pictured right) is pretty loose and could of been tightened up a lot more.

This is the stage where all the creative heavy lifting is done and the best time to work out any problems. Keep an eye out for tangents and awkward shapes in your design. Sometimes it’s easier to redraw elements on separate bits of detail paper and assemble together.

Get your character design as perfect as possible so once you have it in Illustrator it’s just a matter of following the lines with the pen tool. This drawing was scanned at 100 dpi and placed into CMYK Illustrator file.


My idea was to show a spaceman who has just stepped foot on another world with a look of smug self-satisfaction on his face.

First, I started doodling some ideas in my sketchbook. I knew i wanted the stylised retro look so i kept the shapes as simple as possible. I tried out various poses and at one point he became floating repair man holding a toolbox. This changed to a more traditional heroic pose with hands on hips. I liked the quick sketch at top right. It had a strong silhouette and gave a good sense of the character.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

john July 9, 2009

nice work eddy, always astheticaly pleasing to look at!

eddycrosby July 9, 2009

Many thanks John.

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