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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Layout Tricks

Here is a a new piece I am working on and some layout tricks I use when designing a scene:

Thumbnails and a digital comp

At the beginning I just draw really sloppy.  Sloppiness helps you because.... ok, it's not really helpful.  But nothing is perfect at first.  You always have to refine, refine, refine.  

What goes here?

After I have drawn up a comp based on my initial thumbnails I will sometimes draw a background separately from my character.  Sometimes I will draw the background behind the character, which allows me to move the character around a bit after dropping them in.  This can allow you to experiment with different layout options.  In this case I was too cool to experiment with different layout options and left a boar-shaped hole in my scene.

 A dwarf riding a boar

I then draw my character separately.  This is especially helpful in scenes with multiple detail figures.  Here I have done the drawing on toned paper to also start to get a better feel for how I want to treat the lighting.  

Combined layout

Then, using devilish trickery, I combine everything into a workable layout.  Now the layout is ready to be transferred to my final painting surface.  

Next Post: Color Comp


  1. Great idea of breaking down a layout, very helpful, also i love the design of the dwarf and boar, fantastic work!

  2. That's a beautiful drawing. Good luck painting this one, can't wait to see the result.

  3. AWESOME. Boar madness! This is a very interesting post, especially the part about the backgrounds. For me, backgrounds usually end up being a bit of an afterthought. Thanks for sharing your skillz with us.

  4. Useful tips, and I just love the look of that dwarf riding the boar. Epicness. Excited to see the final of this one.

  5. Awesome. I look forward to the next installment.

  6. Thanks for sharing your process! If it is not a closely guarded secret would you mind sharing how you transfer this on to the final paper.

  7. Awesome to see the work flow - you're a genious! My favorite artist.

  8. I love the way your drawing looks on toned paper. The highlights are completely satisfying.

    By the way, I think scribbles are so very important as part of the artistic process! They allow intuition to take over for a little while. So many interesting creative ideas can come from scribbles... And maybe without them we would take ourselves too seriously :)

  9. In your "sloppy" thumbnail, I thought your dwarf was giving a suspicious look to R2D2 in the forest.

    I'm loving the regal expression on the face of the boar. Very nice.

  10. This is completely fantastic. Really looking forward to seeing this completed. thanks for sharing the process that is always inspirational. Plus... Dwarves are the best... hands down.

  11. Awesome as always, Justin! Where do you get this toned paper? I never can seem to find it.

  12. Do you use some kind of carbon paper to transfer it to your painting surface, or do you just do that part of the process by hand? I love your art, and this is a great technique!

    1. Essentially, yes, I use something like carbon paper. I use a sheet of tracing paper with pastel chalk rubbed on the back to transfer. I like it more since I can pick the color of the chalk for each painting.