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Read Time: 6 min

In this tutorial, we will explain how to draw a cartoon monster character in Photoshop. Let's get started! This tutorial is a collaboration with a talented designer, Bei Hasan.

Before We Start: Research

In this design, the client request the character be a funny monster who has a typical Sundanese culture. First, we need to do a research on the typical style of a Sundanese Character. One of the most notable Sundanese artform can be found in Wayang Golek. In Wayang Golek, there is a funny and lovable character named Si Cepot. You can easily found many references on Si Cepot by googling it.

Our monster character will be similar to Cepot, with sarung worn on his chest. Sundanese sarung usually has box patterns as in photo below.

Sarung from Wikipedia

Step 1: Sketching and Tracing

Our next step is drawing the sketch. Prepare pencils and paper. Traditional is always faster. Even though Wacom is a great product, it will never beat simple pencils and paper, in my opinion. Start by drawing the character's main body. Use HB pencil for thinner line.

Step 2

Add more definition onto the character using 2B pencil.

Step 3

Scan the sketch at very high resolution and then open it in Photoshop. Hit Command/Ctrl + L to open Levels dialog and then move the slider until all the edges are very dark.

Step 4

Activate Brush tool and open Brush panel. Reduce spacing and activate Shape Dynamic. Set it to Pen Pressure so the brush will get taper effect based on how much pressure we use while drawing.

Step 5

Make new layer. Trace and clean up the sketch we have made earlier.

Below you can see the taper effect made by Dynamic Shape setting on the Brush panel.

Step 6: Sarung

At this point we will work on its sarung. To keep the layers organized, it is always a good idea to use group layer. In Layers panel, make new group layer and named it sarung. From this step onward, put all your painting in new layer inside this group layer.

Select sarung on his chest by clicking using Magic Wand tool. If your selection is leaking outside the sarung, it means that there is unconnected line on the sarung and you need to fix it first. If you cannot select the whole sarung at once, you will need to add more selection by Shift-click the area.

Step 7

We want to make sure that the selection is a bit bigger so there is no gap between the selection and its line. Click Select > Modify > Expand. Expand selection by 1 px. Set foreground color to #daccba.

Make new layer and place it under the sketch line. Activate Paint Bucket tool and then click inside the selection to fill it.

Step 8

Activate Brush tool. In Brush panel, reduce its Hardness and Size Jitter setting to 0%.

Step 9

Paint dark shadow on its sarung. No need to worry if the result if still very harsh.

Step 10

Click Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur to soften the shadow.

Step 11

Erase unneeded shadow outside its sarung.

Step 12

Repeat this step again to add more shadow.

Step 13

Draw stripes inside its sarung to add pattern.

Step 14

Erase unneeded stripes outside its sarung.

Step 15

Next to its shadow, paint subtle highlight.

Step 16

Paint black on sarung as its shadow using Brush tool with 100% hardness. Reduce its Opacity to 10%.

Step 17

Paint neck or head shadow.

Step 18

Keep painting more details, especially highlight and shadow. The best tools to use in this process is dodge to lighten highlight and burn to darken shadow.

Step 19

Once you are satisfied with the result, we can merge all those layers by simply right clicking on the group layer and click Merge Group. With less layers, Photoshop use less memory and works faster.

Step 20: Bandana

Make new layer under the head bandana and color it with #885f37. You want to use Brush tool with 100% hardness to get a crisp edges.

Step 21

Draw patterns on the bandana using lighter color.

Step 22

Paint shadow and then reduce its Opacity.

Step 23

Add softer shadow using Brush with 0% Hardness.

Step 24: Sarung

Make new layer under his pants. His pants is actually a sarung too. So, we will use same techniques. Select its pants and fill it with base color.

Step 25

Add stripe patterns.

Step 26

Select it using Magic Wand tool. Invert selection (Command/Ctrl + Shift + I) and then delete pattern outside its sarung.

Step 27

Paint highlight and shadow to add more details.

So far, here's our result.

Step 28: Skin

Use Magic Wand tool to select its skin. Fill it with skin base color.

Step 29

Paint shadows using darker color. To make it appears natural, we want to add more color.

Below you can see shadow details on its forearm.

Step 30

Keep adding more shadow on other part of its body.

Step 31

When there's shadow, there's always highlight. In this scene, light source is located on upper right of the character. Paint soft highlights on its skin using very soft Brush tool, 0% Hardness.

Step 31

Let's add stronger highlight to get a realistic appearance. Draw circular selection and paint highlight using soft Brush tool. Reduce Opacity and erase highlight outside the body.

Step 32

Keep adding more highlights using same technique.

Below you can see more highlights.

Step 33: Add Skin Texture

We want to add textures onto its skin. Activate Brush tool ad open Brush panel. Increase its Spacing and make sure Shape Dynamics is selected.

Step 34

Paint some random dots on the skin. Reduce Brush Opacity to get transparent pixels.

Step 35

Add more dots on other parts of its skin.

This is our current result.

Step 36: Face

Select its face using Magic Wand tool. Hit Command/Ctrl + H to hide selection edges. The selection is still there, it's just hidden so we can paint easier.

Step 37

Paint highlight on inner side of its edge and shadow on its center.

Step 37

Select its rob and paths. Fill it with brown.

Step 38

In separate layers, paint highlight and shadow. Make sure to reduce shadow layer Opacity.

Step 39

Colorize its ring, sandal, and ornament on its rob and pants. Add new layer and then paint highlight and shadow. Also, use soft brush to draw subtle white glow on its rings.

Step 40: Teeth

Make new layer and then colorize its teeth. Paint some shadows on its lower left.

Step 41: Eyes

Colorize its eyes and then add shadow and highlight.

Step 42

Add subtle flare on corner of its eye using small soft Brush tool.

We have finished the drawing.

Step 43

Hide background by clicking on eye icon in front of it. Make new layer and place it on top all other layers.

Step 44

Hit Command/Ctrl + Shift + Alt + E to merge all visible pixels and place it inside the new layer. You can reveal the background.

Step 45

Double click the new layer and add Stroke.

Step 46

Now, we have thicker line outside the character.


For the background, we just added a light blue box. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and learned one or two new techniques from it. Thank you for reading.

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