Step-By-Step Breakdown of “Deathly” by Dirk Hooper
I’ve got to tell you something. I’ve never had more fun doing artwork in my life.
For the past few years, I’ve been on a journey to do art digitally. My experience with drawing, illustrating and painting goes back to when I was five or six years old. But about three years ago I started doing art on my computer.
This process has been gratifying, but it wasn’t until I found Clip Studio Paint a few weeks ago that it all started clicking.
I mostly do art for fun and to relax, and it’s been pure pleasure lately.
I’ve had this piece on DC’s Death character ruminating for a while. One of my favorite comics ever is Neil Gaiman’s run on Sandman, and Death is my favorite character.
My version of Death is little more goth-glam than usual. That’s the thrill of doing your own thing, you can mix it up.
Pencils and Inks
So, I can’t share pencils with you this time, I had to erase that layer.
This is the first time I made a huge mistake in my digital process and it’s been informative. I created a pencil layer where I had everything laid out and then started doing my inks.
When I was about halfway through my coloring process I looked at the piece and realized that I still had my pencil layer “on” and went to turn it off and I lost half my inks!
I had inked the head and part of the torso on the pencil layer. Unfortunately, that led to me having to make the decision to either erase the pencils lines or re-do the inks in some of the toughest areas.
Since I liked the way it was, and it was getting late (very late) and it almost never turns out as good the second time, I did my best to erase the pencil lines.
In meatspace, if I erase pencil lines it’s no big deal, but when you get the inks on the same layer as pencils you have to erase around ink lines and it’s not a simple process.
I talked with my buddy Shawn Wilson who has been doing digital art for decades and he suggested that I lock the pencil layer when it’s done. It also occurred to me that if I did the pencils in blue line then it would have been easier to distinguish between the two elements.
Hey, I’m still learning. Maybe by telling you about this, it will help a few other people too.
I added a flat red background to the piece. This piece was pictured in my mind as a red background with a black-and-white figure from the beginning.
I put the background in immediately so that I can see the effect on the figure, but in this case, I also knew that the dress was going to show the background so I needed it in there to see the effect as I worked.
I’ve been using a flat background with my digital art because I like how dynamic and unifying it is. I’m starting to add some elements to the background now, and I might be doing more work on backgrounds in the future.
I usually capture the steps of my color process, but again it was getting late and I was already behind. My style lately has been to color a piece by using the contrasting color of the background. In this case, I stayed with the red color since it worked well with Death’s look.
Shadows and Glow
I put some watercolor shadows under her feet to put her in a place instead of just in space.
I used some airbrush effects behind her head, then added more down her arm and on her shoulder. The effect that I was trying to get was that she was glowing a bit. She’s a celestial character and I wanted her to have an otherworldly look.
Highlights and Final Look
The wrap-up on this piece was to continue to add some highlights and additional glowing effects, both with the airbrush tool and also with some white highlights in her eyes and the ankh necklace.
This piece is yet another big step forward to me. I’d really like to hear your thoughts in the comments below.