Designing storybook illustrations 📕

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☙ The story ❧

How does one artist conveys a story ?

In this tutorial, I will narrate my journey drawing a retold story of "The tortoise and the hare" sharing my process in Clip Studio Paint hoping it will help artists out there.

The tale of the tortoise and the hare is about a race where the hare is clearly the favorite but, the hare was drowned in self-confidence and made a lot of stops. The tortoise won the race by going at a steady pace.

After pondering on how I would draw it, I decided that the right call would be to make a multiple panel illustration. It would also be interesting if the characters popped out of the frame like stickers.

4 panels comics are very popular on internet and for our story it was just enough to give the illustration an appeal and a twist.

I believe that a flat illustration can be in any style, and it's main features are its simplicity and lack of dimensionality.

☙ The frame ❧

I started this illustration by making the frame and part of the background first.

After creating a new 2000*2000px canvas, I made a 2000*2000px circle on a raster layer.
To do that, use the "Ellipse" in the figure tools and activate the "Aspect Type" then choose the specify length option. Once the circle was made, I aligned its borders with the canvas so it is right in the middle.

To do that easily, press "CTRL+T" and set the "Adjust Position" option to "Canvas".

For the inner border, I duplicated the previous circle and using "CTRL+T" again, I scaled the new circle down.

The size of the circle's brush might change in the process but can be corrected using the "Object operation subtool".

I then placed a 4 lines symmetry ruler in the middle of the canvas and made the forms using various figure tools.
To place the ruler in the middle of the canvas, I used the "Object Operation Tool", left click on the ruler and adjusted both its positions to 1000px.

To make it more storybook like, I added various elements on which I would place words and then divided the frame into 4.

For the colors, Clip Studio Paint has premade color sets that are really useful. I started by using the "Bright Tone" on the circle and the "Pale Tone" on the inner panels.
After choosing a color there, in HLS format, I play with the color slider or the color wheel to get a specific hue. You have 360 choices from the slider.

A tip for choosing colors is to look at the color wheel, all the hues are placed next to each other in a harmonious way. As a rule of thumb, choose a few colors next to each other or the opposite colors on the wheel. Analogous and complementary colors are the easiest choices but depending on your tastes, there are many other ways to use colors in your art.

I also added the words to give the story a context. The race would be held every summer festival as a tradition, so I wrote that part in Japanese.

Lastly, I changed the color of the line art to white.

I didn't want to stop there, I also wanted it to have a paper like texture. I browsed through the available textures and dragged it on the canvas. Then, I clipped it to the outer colors, and in the layer property, I activated the effect "Overlay texture".

For the inner panels, I went to the "layer menu", "new layer" and "tone..." then I changed the color in the "layer color" option in layer property.

Finally, I applied an orange tint to make it slightly warmer.

☙ The characters ❧

The frame background done, I started to sketch the characters, I wanted lively yet simple designed characters. the sketches didn't have to be perfect, I only needed the general shapes.

I struggled a little with the hare's head but then I shaped it in a square and it looked cute enough. For the tortoise, I kept him on four legs instead of two to keep its original appeal.

Once I got the shapes, I started inking them one by one, scene by scene. Describing each panel the best I could.

The first scene was the start of the race and it would also set the general mood for all the scenes that would follow. I tried to give more details to the hare, making her more sporty, to balance with the detailed line-art I made for the tortoise.

I kept the line-art and I tried adding a white outline by putting all the layers in a group and using the outline layer effect. I think both of the characters' personalities were conveyed well as a result. Finally, I made the characters pop out by adding a drop shadow. For that I duplicated the previous group and merged it then I changed its color with the edit option "Convert to drawing color".

The panel still felt too simple so I added the ground as a background element to improve it.

It looked good enough and at this point, I moved to draw the other panels in the same fashion.

To lead the eye of the viewer, various techniques have been used, the difference in size in the panels, the difference in contrast with the colors and the outlines and the drop shadow.

To check the values easily, create a new raster layer above all your layers; filled in black; set on color blending mode.

The story here can be understood by reading it from left to right.

『At the summer festival, held every year in the spirit forest, the traditional race between the tortoise and the hare was about to start. "Ding", at the sound of a bell, the hare rushes away, leaving the tortoise in the dust. Halfway through the course, the hare ate a lot to replenish her lost energy as she sees the tortoise passing her by very slowly. As she tried to go back into the race, her stomach started to growl in pain. Sadly, the time she spent relieving the pain was just enough for the tortoise to win the race. Struck by sadness, she couldn't stop crying. The kind tortoise came to her with a gift to cheer her up as the festivities were finally starting. 』

And that ends my story on how I made this illustration, I hope you enjoyed it and that it will help you design your own storybook illustration.

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