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Warming up Digital Figure Drawing with PoseManiacs.com

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It’s always nice to start my work day off with some gesture sketching. Unfortunately, I don’t have a live model on call or have a lot of time to go through photo reference sites looking for a pose to sketch. Maybe I could just find a magazine, but my computer is right here and I have the perfect web site for doing just that. It’s called Pose Maniacs (www.posemaniacs.com). Its a japanese site with hundreds of pre-posed virtual human figures with their top layer of skin removed so you can see the muscle structure underneath. Which is great for helping learn human anatomy for both males and females. Most of the models can rotate 360 degrees on a single axis just by dragging the mouse. My favorite feature, however, has got to be the “30 Second Drawing” mode which generates a random pose every 10, 15, 30, 45, 60 or 90 seconds. I set it to 60 seconds and start sketching. I’ve found it to be a great tool to get warmed up before sitting down behind my drafting table for a long day of drawing. This site also has plenty of other helpful features. The “Negative Space Drawing” option which gives you a random pose but with only the silhouette visible. A “Drawing for Hand” section which is strangely named because not only does it have 360 degree models of hands but also a male foot, head and body. When you go to this page the first image you see is a nude male torso which makes it feel like you’re on the wrong page. This is where the real drawbacks of this site start to show. Remember that this is a Japanese site that has been translated into English and the translation is not very good making it a little hard to navigate. I wouldn’t recommend doing too much reading on the site but to each their own. Continue reading

Preparing pencil sketches using Channels in PhotoShop

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First off I’d like to start off with a quote from one of my instructors in college about working in Adobe PhotoShop. He said “There are a thousand ways to solve the same problem in PhotoShop”. This statement is 100% true. I know there are so many other ways to accomplish a nice clean line drawing but here is the way I’ve found that works best for my work flow.

When starting its best to understand how you work. For me, I do my pencil sketches with a blue non-photo reproducing colored pencil. It helps me get the gesture of the drawing down before going in with a pencil to tighten up my lines. Knowing that I scan my sketches in color (RGB) at 300 DPI or PPI. I know some artists also use red colored pencils for their under drawings and this process can also be done with a red colored pencil but for this tutorial I’m going to just concentrate on removing the blue line. Now that the sketch is scanned and saved to my computer, I open it in PhotoShop.

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Having started with a blue line I need to now remove it. I start by adjusting the hue/saturation (Image > Adjustments > hue/saturation) With the hue/saturation dialog panel up you will see a drop down menu set to “Master”. On the “Master” setting drop the saturation all the way down to -100. Then go to both the “Cyan” setting and “Blue” setting and adjust the brightness all the way up to +100. Now to adjust the levels of the drawing (Image > Adjustment > Levels) until the image looks right. One of the goals of this is to get a nice crisp white background.

To get the gray lines on their own layer there are many ways to do this. For instance, you could create a duplicate layer of your sketch and change the layer blend mode to “Multiply” and paint on a layer underneath. This way works fine but when I’m coloring I like to have control of all my lines and its hard when the drawing is surrounded by white. You will see why in a few steps. Continue reading