One of my jobs here at Livid is concepting. It’s my favorite task. I absolutely love sketching characters and perusing the many galleries of games and artists I admireto get reference and inspiration. I am a self taught game designer with some education in traditional studio art, but have since made the switch to digital. I’m a huge fan of Wacom products, and got my start with a Bamboo before switching to a 12 inch cintiq, and now a 24hd. Every artist is different in their approach to designing a character and making an illustration. There is a lot to consider, like the character’s gender, size and shape, pose, personality, costume, etc… Here at Livid, we work very closely as a team and have tons of discussion about this before I even start sketching. First we decide what we want the character to do; what are their trademark spells? Then our writer comes up with backstory for the characters and we get a good idea of their history and their personality. This makes it easier for me to gather reference material on the visual aspects I’d like to portray. Here is an example of references I gathered for Hotep McCoy. He is something of a gentleman explorer, without much caution, and craved adventure – leading to the curse which forces him to share his body with an ancient mummy.
After this, I sketch. I try to find a pose that makes it easy to see every detail. This is important for when I hand the image off to the 3d team. My first pose looked too much like a zombie, so I tried to give him a more natural stance.
After discussing the sketches with the team, I choose which aspects to keep and which to discard, and then generate a clearer line drawing. Linework is important to me, and I enjoy the gradual progression of clarity it affords. It allows me to get a feel for the costume and accessories of the character and decide if their is anything that just isn’t going to work. I also use this time to mentally plan for the painting and think about color choices.
Next I block in colors by creating a layer underneath the linework layer.
After this, I turn the opacity way down on the previous linework layer, and create another layer above that. I use the rough pencil tool to go over the lines one final time. I like to keep the lines as clean as possible, and have them mostly be on the outer edges of the drawing.
Now it’s time to paint! I again create a layer under the linework to paint. I typically keep each item of the character on its own layer – like the scarf, the character’s skin, the shirt, etc.
I usually paint the base color of the item first, the shadows second, and the highlights last. I often take advantage of the color burn/color dodge tools for this, but I keep them on a layer above the paint layer until I’m sure it’s how I want it to be. I don’t use many layer styles or effects, I prefer just painting. Color and lighting are some of the most challenging things for me, and I’m always working toward improving my skills in those areas.