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Illustration Tutorial- The Bear Who Hated His Job

A preview of the finished image.

Today's tutorial shows the process in making the cover of my Bear Who Hated His Job graphic novel. In this tutorial, I will break down my how I constructed the image including my inspiration, and give a step by step layout of how this image came together.

Step 1) The Sketch
I made a simple pencil sketch on regular sketchbook paper to get a feel for the pose and the shapes. I then ran some very basic inks on the drawing with a pen just to get a feel for the lines and shapes. Now on to the inking for the finished drawing.

Step 2) Inking
I took this drawing into Adobe Illustrator to tighten it up, simplify the shapes, and "ink" the drawing digitally. While it is extremely time consuming, I love the precision and control I have with Illustrator.

Step 3) Line of Action and Line Weight
By applying the principles of line of action (or flow of action) and line weight (or line variation) to the character, the drawing will be more interesting to look at.

Line of action helps direct the viewer's eye across the figure and it creates movement to the piece. In the piece above two diagonal lines of action are used to suggest movement. The more vertical line is tilted to show our bear leaning back, and the more horizontal of the lines follows the flow of the knife to the bear's gaze.

Line weight brings a visual weight to the lines. If all the lines were the same width, the piece could not sustain the clarity this version has and the viewer would have a harder time reading the image. Notice the heaviest line along the back of the bear to weight him from that direction.

Step 4) The Logo

Every cover needs a title logo. For this one, I chose to stretch the text all the way down the page and emphasize the words, "bear" and "job". The stretched text also creates a looming feeling to the piece.
When I place the text in the composition with the bear, it's almost as if the word "job" is sneaking up on him. Now, it's on to the colors!

Step 5) Colors

 I decided before I started, that I would use a limited color pallet of red, white, black, and gray.


First, I start by laying down the flat color.
 I could have stopped here if I wanted to, but I like adding texture to create some extra visual depth.

Step 6) Extra Touches

One trick I like to do is add some scanned paint textures into the piece. I insert the paint texture into a layer in Photoshop, set the layer mode to "multiply", (which means the darkest elements of it can be seen, and the lightest will be see through) and then I set the paint image at about half transparency. Remember, it's only there for depth.
The added texture gives a nice backdrop and I also add another beam of light behind the first one at a lower opacity.


Next, I add some gray tone shading to the bear himself and I desaturate the colors a bit more for the whole piece. And then it's finished.

I hope you enjoyed this piece and found it informative. Comments, suggestions, and questions are appreciated.

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