This is the second in my series of posts about my illustration process, using Brian McClellan’s Powder Mage Trilogy as my source material.
After I have good idea of the characters and composition I begin building the final sketch.
I use graphite pencil here in a few different hardnesses usually from 2B to 2H which allows for a lot of different line weights and densities as I work out the finer details of the image.
In some drawings I’ll only ever go up to an HB to keep the pencil lines very light so they’ll have little impact on the final watercolour. Here I’m planning on a darker palatte so I’m not worried about the pencil line intruding.
There are a lot of what I call searching lines in the drawing here. (In some of my final drawings and pretty much all my sketches you can find a lot more.) These are the marks where I’m looking for just the angle I want and instead of erasing I just keep putting the pencil down until I find it.
On some pieces that’s not such a good idea. If I want the final to be super clean and light then I will go back and erase every line I put down until I find the right one. (Though the more you practice the sooner you find the right one.) However, with a darker palette and the style of the image I’m ok with leaving the pencil shadows in here.
This is also often the step where I can hang out for a long time… As long as I’m delving further into detail with pencil I can always back out, erase, and fix. But as soon as I go in with watercolour I’m committed. But as soon as I’m done dawdling around with my pencils and I’ve got a final drawing I’m happy with, it’s time for colour.
If I have time I sometimes let the final drawing sit for a day or so just like a draft when I’m writing. That way if there are any funky bits that I didn’t notice on the earlier sitting, I can usually pick them up and fix them before I go in for the finish.