Robert MacNeil © 2000-2008 • Terms of Use
tutorial setup and painting techniques for digital painting
STEP 1: Plan
STEP 2: Thumbnails
STEP 3: Rough images
charac_ideas character ideas
fig_1 fig_1
fig_2 fig_2
    STEP 4

inthepark in the park
a quick reference to final image



STEP 1: Plan
(sorry prelims were never saved)
The story I want to create is centered around the terrible subject of cancer. I don't want to be morbid in my tale, but I definitely want to portray the seriousness this disease represents (hopefully in a non-intimidating manner). This way children and parents could read this together and potentially gain some insight from my experiences. I do not want to teach a lesson, or preach to anyone. I want to make a heartfelt story that reflects some of the love my mom and I shared, as well as, shed light on the ups and downs of cancer. I know I definitely have a history with this disease so if any information I share helps anyone out there, in anyway, I know my mom would be proud of me. With that said, "How do I translate these intentions, into a character?" I decided to just write any words I thought may relate to this subject onto a piece of paper and let my stream of consciousness guide me. Sadness, inspiration, curiosity, innocence and vastness are a few of the words I came up with. I figured an innocent young girl with a curiosity towards the vastness of life, is inspired by an overwhelming sadness she senses from a secondary character. I wanted this additional character to represent security as well, so I went with the obvious choice of including this young girls' father. It's this generalized plan that has provided me with a sort of back-story, which in turn will help me create the actual story. I use this word association process to pretty much plan what the entire world I am creating for this book will look like.

STEP 2: Thumbnails
(sorry prelims were never saved)
A drawing can begin with an infinite amount of approaches. I like to work out my ideas on a Post-It note. The small size allows you to explore a large amount of ideas quickly and efficiently. When you see that you have a hint of direction in your thought processes you can take these accumulated scribbles, adhere them to a bigger page (or wall for that matter) and review your visual thinking with a fresh eye. This way you allow yourself a chance to step away (so to speak) and decipher all the gibberish you have committed to paper. It gives you the opportunity to weed out potential directions that may have completely missed the mark, and expand on the ones that hit it. This process should be very loose. Explore ideas you may not typically lean towards. Have fun with it! UNFORTUNATELY, I did not keep any of my thumbnails or take a picture of my workspace for this project. So, to give you an idea of what you're missing... take some sticky notes, (about 50 or so) a pencil sharpener, a couple of pencils and a big mess of a desk and you'll feel like you're sitting on my lap. For book creation, the entire book should be nailed out to ensure good story flow and progression and to see if what you intend to produce can be achieved.

STEP 3: Rough
Working from the idea board you created for yourself, extract elements from let's say, thumbnails 1, 2 and maybe even 3 (you decide) and work up a rough sketch. The size of this rough sketch should be drawn proportionate to the size you intend on making the final image.
This is what I came up with after countless attempts that were scratched because they did not evoke the feeling I was after. This is where having a plan or goal was handy. I could have simply produced an illustration, but when considering the overall intention of this book, the context of each image created has to have relevance.
(see fig. 1)
After working my thumbnail to this proportionate size, I still felt the characters were not expressing the emotions I was looking for. On another sheet of paper I drew the characters by themselves. I felt this may be the best way to find what I was after, because I felt it necessary to temporarily eliminate the distraction of the presently busy background.
(see fig. 2)