How Do You Do That Then? – Christmas Cover


This article first appeared in The Jester issue 472.

This issue, I’m going to attempt to show the essential steps I went through to complete a cover illustration for The Chistmas Jester in 2013. The theme was “Saints and Sinners” and Ian had asked that I do a cover featuring my Monks characters. Here’s how the whole thing went (I’ve simplified it a bit to fit everything in and to avoid boring you all to tears…)

how to xmas cover step 11. I had a basic idea fairly quickly. Here’s my first sketch In Photoshop
how to xmas cover step 22. I thought it needed a bit more going on, so I scribbled in some more.

how to xmas cover step 33. Those loose scribbles were enough to tighten the detail on another layer.

how to xmas cover step 4a how to xmas cover step 4b

4. Opacity of the sketch layer is dropped to about 20% and inking is done on a layer above

how to xmas cover step 55. Some backround detail is manufactured in Illustrator, like the background wall blocks. This pattern is”expanded” so the lines become filled areas, and then a “Roughen” effect is applied. The result is copied and pasted back into Photoshop
how to xmas cover step 6 6. Here the floor tile pattern is created in Illustrator, roughened, and copied & pasted into PS. The opacity of the pattern is lowered so I can see what’sgoing on,and then the Free Transform tools are used to bend the pattern to fit the perspective of the scene.

7. When the inks are done, a separate layer is created above it and the main areas are filled with a flat colour. how to xmas cover step 7
8. This layer then has its transparency locked, and is dropped below the inks layer. It is then filled with white. This layer will then receive the majority of the full colour work for the illustration.

Having a distinct pre-prepared layer to accept the colour allows the colouring to proceed very quickly. You can use rapid strokes without fear of “going over the edges”.how to xmas cover step 8

9. To maintain a consistent palette with my Monks cards I’ll often use a previous design and select key colours from it using the eye-dropper.

how to xmas cover step 9how to xmas cover step 9b

10. For the photocopier light effect, I created a new layer and filled a trapezoid shape with white. This was then given a Gaussian Blur of a few pixels and dropped behind the character… how to xmas cover step 10a
11. …A layer mask was applied to this layer, and black was airbrushed onto it which had the effect of reducing the opacity where the black was applied. On another layer, on top of the character, I carefully airbrushed some white to give the impression the light was leaking around the Monk’s bum. how to xmas cover step 11

Working on layers is the key to the whole process, though I probably over do it. For this illustration I wound up with 35.

More nerdy stuff next time!

Happy Christmas!

jester cover 472

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One Response to How Do You Do That Then? – Christmas Cover

  1. Peter December 22, 2014 at 5:03 pm #

    A masterclass in digital cartooning – brilliant!

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