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FREELessons: 15Length: 1.5 hours

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3.2 Sketch

In this lesson, we'll take a closer look at the rough sketch of our composition. Using this sketch, we'll create a much cleaner version full of dynamic details.

3.2 Sketch

Hello, and welcome back to Surreal Digital Paintings. My name is Melody Nieves and this is lesson 3.2. If you've ever wondered how artists create clean line art, then be sure to stay tuned. In this lesson, we'll start off by taking a look at a premade rough sketch before turning it into clean, digital line art. Let's take a look at the rough sketch. When I first started out digital painting I used to take really rough sketches like this, and just run with it. I saw so many of my favorite artists painting this way, so I thought it wasn't really a big deal. I was simply trying to follow the age old rule of doing what the experts do. It would take years before I realized how much these rough sketches were hurting me. Although it seems like I've got the general gist of what's happening in the painting there is still so much room for improvement. As I previously mentioned, I initially drew this sketch on a much smaller document size. When I realize I can make the composition better I changed the document size to 18 by 18 inches and drew a little more, but this rough sketch is the result of starting off at a much smaller size. You'll notice that the edges at the bottom and on the side are bit cut off. Although the sketch is almost there we still have plenty of room to draw extra details to really make this composition better. On top of tha, the sketch definitely needs to be cleaned up. To see what I mean let's fast forward and show you the final result. Do you see the difference now? Not only is it easier to see the flow and movement of each line, but I've added more details to the sketch. There are cleaner folds in the blindfold. The curls are perfectly defined and the water truly comes to life. Creating a solid sketch like this means that later down the line the painting process won't be a guessing game. So how do you make your line art better? Let's take a look. First, separate the rough sketch into its own group and create a new one dedicated to the second version. Clean line art is really all about the brush you use. Hit F5 on your keyboard to bring up the brush panel at any time. You can use custom brushes, find some new ones online or use the preset brushes already provided for you in Photoshop CC. In this case, I'll be using a hard, round brush with pressure sensitivity enabled. Do a couple of test strokes to see how you like the brush. Now, lower the opacity of the rough sketch to 50%. We'll use this as a guide to trace over. On a new layer begin tracing your sketch. Zoom in so that you can see the details clearly in order to get a nice, crisp edge. It's important to make sure the opacity is set to 100% because the brush is set to pick up pen pressure. So essentially, the harder that you press on your tablet the deeper the color of your lines. If you're a little light handed like I can be sometimes continue adjusting the settings of your brush. For now, I'll just continue sketching. Drawing curvy lines can be pretty tricky. The actual movement of your hand across the tablet feels a little stiff and restrictive. So it's best to use the rotation tool for this step. Select the rotation tool and rotate the canvas to set your sketch at an angle so that it's much easier to draw. With each stroke let your hand glide naturally along the tablet, and if you're having any trouble simply practice redrawing the strokes hitting Ctrl+Z to undo if you need to. The key to clean line art is to make sure brushstrokes are very deliberate. It's very easy to get lazy with art. Whenever you see line art from a professional artist just know that they made each stroke with the intention of creating clear details. So no matter how many times you mess up keep redrawing lines until you're happy with them. It may seem like a huge nuisance for this step, but I assure you that it'll all be worth it in the end. Let's move on to the hair. The original sketch definitely doesn't have as much details as I would like. So refer back to your reference to understand the structure of each curl. I like to tackle the most obvious shapes first before moving on to the hair strands in between. Think of each curl as a curvy ribbon cascading down. There will be shapes that are more prominent in the front while the others are tucked behind. Continue drawing the rest of the sketch. Since there are some details that are missing, or not exactly like the reference focus this time to make the details as close to it as possible. Zoom into the reference to get a clear visual of details that are harder to see until you know you can transfer that detail onto your sketch. Even though the woman has a large pearl necklace on, remember that we're replacing the pearls with small fishbowls to fall in line with our surrealistic concept. To create clean circles I'll select the ellipse tool with a thin stroke and position the first one into place. Hit Ctrl+T to adjust the shape so that it's a little less perfect looking. When you're finished hold Ctrl+J to create a duplicate of the circle and move it over to the next spot. Continue this process for the rest of the fish bowl necklace. Don't worry about the circles overlapping just yet, because we'll deal with it in the next step. Once all the bowls are created select all the shape layers. Right-click and go to restorize layers, then finally merge the layers together. Take the eraser brush and carefully erase some of the lines. Pay close attention to how the bowls overlap one another so that you're achieving a nice play on depth of field. As you move forward, you may need to go back into the reference file to take a look at the other images. Unhide the visibility of the layers you need to continue defining each detail. I won the jackpot when I found this blindfold reference. Not only is the model's head in the position of our subject, but the blindfold sits perfectly across her face just like I wanted it to. This is a good lesson to keep in mind when digging for references. Although it takes some time finding the perfect reference can give you a lot of relief in determining what to draw. The last details I sketch are ones in the middle and foreground areas. To make the water more realistic I drew long curvy lines to show its fluid movement to show it's fluid movement as it gets closer to the viewer. I also drew a couple of splashes and drops of water coming from the broken fish bowl. Since I couldn't find any good references for fish bowls that were also free you'll notice that I'm referring to wine glasses instead. The shapes, colors and movements are pretty similar to what I'm going for, so I know it will ultimately work in the end. Finish up the sketch by moving on to the fish and lotus details. Even though the fish are an important part of the symbolism and story of this piece I only want to draw their general shape. The fish in the foreground should have the most detail because the fish within the necklace will naturally be harder to see, and by picking and choosing the focus of your painting you can guide your viewers eye in the direction that you want. Last but not least I draw the lotus flower. Since it's at an angle I'll have to use the rotation tool again to draw each brush stroke. Draw a few extra petals floating in the air to make the composition even more interesting. Dock the windows for your references to focus on one more thing. Go through each layer and find the parts of the sketch that are overlapping one another. For instance, the lines from the water intersect the lotus flower, so use the eraser tool to erase those lines. This last step concludes the process for this sketch. By being patient with your line work and taking a little extra time you too can transform a rough sketch to a clear, surrealistic concept. Now that the sketch is done let's figure out the lighting. So join me in Lesson 3.3 where we'll create quick thumbnails to determine the lighting setup for this painting.

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