2. Rough sketching



In the second chapter, I’ll introduce my workflow for sketching and base coloring.

[1] Setting a theme

This piece’s theme is a dragon. As I wanted to go into how to paint textures apart, I added mechanical elements and settled on “A half-mech dragon created by a secret organization” as my goal.

[2]Setting up composition

(1) First, a new canvas is made. From the [New] dialog displayed by selecting [File] menu → [New], the following canvas was made.

[Canvas] A4 (Width 2894px X Height 4093px)、[Resolution] 350dpi

(2) In the [Layer] palette, a layer folder named “data” is made. The piece is roughed out on a layer in it while considering the rough shapes and composition.

As there is no need to consider the textures at this point, use a tool you’re comfortable with, such as the [Pencil] tool.

I thought of an alternative sideways composition, but I scrapped it, as I wasn’t sure I could finish a scene where the dragon was flying and breathing fire.

[3] Base coloring

(1) The scene takes place at night, in a town attacked by the dragon.

A new layer is made under the initial line drawing, and the canvas is filled with the [Fill] tool. Using that as a base, lighter colors are added.

The layer order can be adjusted by dragging the layer in the [Layer] palette.

(2) A new layer that combines the line art and base colors is made by selecting [Combine copies of displayed layer] after right clicking the [Layer] palette, or selecting the same from the [Layer] menu. I named this layer “Underpaint 2”

A new layer is made above that, and after setting the blending mode to “Color dodge”, the dragon’s breath and the flames of the city are added to expand the image’s atmosphere.

For more details on layer blending modes, refer to the following TIPS.


To select and copy specific layers, [Ctrl] click the target layers to select, and drag the selected layers to another layer in the image while holding [Alt]. The new layers will be stacked on top of each other.

The layers can be merged by clicking [Combine Selected Layer] from the right click menu when the layers are selected.

The [Combine Selected Layer] command can only be used with layers directly stacked on top of each other.

To copy and merge all displayed layers, select [Combine copies of displayed layer] from the right click menu when selecting a layer.

(3) Light colors are roughed into the “copied and merged” base color layer to clean up the images’ shapes.

(4) A new layer is made above the base color layer, and [Clip at Layer Below] is turned ON. Lighter colors are added with layers set to blending mode [Screen] or [Color dodge].

[Clip at Layer Below] will limit a layer’s drawing area to the painted areas of the layer below it.
For more information, refer to the TIPS below.

(5) If there aren’t any problems with the clipped layer, merge it with the “Underpaint 2” layer.

[4] Adjusting the sketch

(1) After the sketch was finished, I felt that the entire image was too cramped, and decided to scale the image down.

Before scaling, and before any large operation, make sure to either duplicate the target layers (or “Save as”) to keep a backup file without the adjustments.

After duplicating the “Underpaint 2” layer and renaming it “base”, rename the original base color layers “Underpaint 2”→ “log 2”, “Underpaint”→ “log 1”, and move them out of the “data” folder.

(2) The “data” layer folder is scaled down with the [Edit] menu→ [Transform]→ [Scale up/Scale down/Rotate] (shortcut key [Ctrl]+[T]).

By toggling the visibility of the “data” layer folder, the resulting image can be compared with previous sketches to validate the changes. This step is repeated multiple times throughout the workflow.

The visibility of layers and layer folders can be toggled by clicking the eye icon to the left of the layer name in the [Layer] palette.

(3) After scaling, adjust the gaps and finish the sketch.

In the next lesson, I will draw the main monster’s head.



New Official Articles