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Of Elven Princesses and Monster Hunters ~ an adventure in character art

An alternate subtitle for this post could have been, “Why You Probably Shouldn’t Trust Me to Draw Your Characters—I may just turn them into hipsters”, but I didn’t think that would be good for business. (Plus it was too long for my header graphic.) So I decided to play it safe…

Welcome, my friends, to an adventure in character art. This is the story of my first character art commission (AKA, how I kept my good name as a *cough* “professional” artist, even though I was REALLY tempted to pull a prank).

[I feel like I should put a disclaimer right here: this post is solely for comedic purposes, and while I love having fun and sharing laughter through pranks, I promise I will treat your beloved characters and their story with the utmost respect and create your character art with the most care to the best of my abilities.]

Okay.

It all started the winter before last, when an old acquaintance reached out to me about making some art for his book. He had a couple characters that he wanted done, so we discussed medium and pricing and all those lovely things.

After I got all the information I needed on the characters, I gathered some reference material (read: spent at least five minutes researching what a “celestial nose” looked like and studying pictures of people’s noses… this is the life of an artist, y’all). Then I went on to hype myself up and start sketching.

Humble… and somewhat scary looking beginnings.

Its All Coming Together GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Trust the process. y’all. Trust the process.

Half a million reference pictures later, to get all the features and clothing and hair just right, and this is what I came up with.

Then for the second character, I did a full body pose per request, as well as a close up of the face for detail reference.

*cue more web searching and image downloading*

What a scowl that man has!

At this point, I sent them to my client, prayed for the best, and took a break while waiting for a response.

Well, he got back to me the next day, and said they were almost exactly what he had imagined (huge relief and much gladness on my end 😅), but he wanted the female character’s jaw a little narrower and the mouth a bit smaller.

The revised sketch:

Once I got the okay on the sketches, it was time to face the real challenge: turning it into a digital painting. Remastering it full color HD. Breathing life and blood into my pencil scratches…. and trying not to lose all my hair in the process.

For some reason I decided to start from scratch on a blank canvas, rather than painting on top of my sketch (which I was afraid would give it a forced/artificial look). And somehow… somehow it worked.

I managed to get a pretty good likeness to my sketch just from scratch, but I did end up importing the sketch as a multiply layer later on, so I could double check all my placements and make it as accurate as I could.

I was pretty intimidated by the fur coat, so naturally, I put it off until the very end. 😝 Thankfully I had this great reference photo that has the same side lighting and reflected light as the reference I took for the face. So that made things significantly easier.

The (mostly) finished artwork:

I sent the piece to my client for a final review and got right to work on the second piece.

For this one, I decided it would be too much extra and unnecessary work to start from scratch, so imported my sketch right away, and built up the painting from there.

I chose to give this painting the same background color as the first one, to kind of unite the two pieces. Only here it’s darker and less saturated, which gives it a more moody tone.

My original plan was to do this sort of dual lighting effect which was in one of my reference photos, but I quickly realized that, um… it was not looking good at all.

I guess it looks like a person… it just doesn’t look at all like the sketch I did. And I’m not really buying that lighting.

So I went and found a new reference and repainted that side of the face, and thankfully, by simplifying the lighting situation, I was able to get it to look more like the character.

Then, all that was left was the outfit, which sounds simple enough, but let me tell you, that leather overcoat just about gave me a broken brain. I don’t know if it was some form of art block or what, but I just really struggled with it.

In the end, I went back to the reference photo board, and was able to come up with something that I thought looked pretty decent.

And finally we come to the last step of the adventure.

The last thing I almost always do with my digital artwork is take it over to my dad’s computer and work out the last details and readjust the colors. (For some reason my ancient laptop screen shows colors with more blue than it ought to, so when I look at my art on other screens I’m like, “where did all that orange come from??”)

Well, while I was doing this, my brother was looking over my shoulder and I asked for his thoughts, and boy he gave ’em to me, and it pretty much turned into a really helpful live critique session, and before we knew it, it was almost midnight, and I was slap happy and—

—that happened.

And this… This is why you might want to think twice about letting me draw your characters. They may morph into hipsters in the wee hours of the night.

I highly considered sending this to my client and being like, “Here’s the final artwork. Let me know what you think!”

(I know. I have a twelve year old’s sense of humor. And I’m sorry.)

But I didn’t. I didn’t do that.

In the end, I thought, “Well, what if he can’t take the original artwork seriously after he sees it, and every time he looks at the real one, all he can think of is the hipster version??” So in the end, I decided to scrape together what maturity I had left, and send the original piece.

#UnashamedMatureMoment

And here is the first portrait after I cropped it and color corrected it and lightened the eyes a bit as the client requested.

And here’s a process gif, just for fun.

As an exciting epilogue to this adventure, I also got my first digital art prints! I may have gotten a little star-eyed when I opened them. I know that may sound weird, but if you do a lot of digital art, then you know it’s different and rather wonderful to actually be able to hold it in your hand. So I just had to commemorate the moment with a blurry selfie.

And thus endeth the journey. Characters were painted, clients were made happy, lessons were learned (like never underestimate the power of a good reference photo), and the artist is still wondering how to be a professional… or if she should even try. What do you think?

Until next time, stay lionhearted, add beauty to the world, and use your own discretion when pranking people.

~ Chalice

P.S. And to my client, if you ever happen to find this post in the deep recesses of the internet, I hope it makes you laugh.

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16 Replies to “Of Elven Princesses and Monster Hunters ~ an adventure in character art”

  1. Haha! Chalice this post made me laugh. XD I love your art too. ❤ So good.
    Btw, your hipster version of the character kinda looks like TobyMac. 😛

    Liked by 3 people

  2. If almost pranking is part of the work you do, then I’d say never become a professional. This was just too good. XD

    Wow, the Elf looks stunning. Great work, Chalice! I’ll have to keep you in mind for future character art . . . hmmm . . .

    Like

  3. You don’t know how excited I get when I see you’ve uploaded a new post! 😄
    I don’t always get to comment right away, but that doesn’t keep me from reading your posts as soon as I can, because it’s always fantastic.

    Your artwork is incredible!! 😍 I LOVE the girl. Her eyes are sooo pretty, and the fur coat is just lovely, I like it so much. Ahhhh, I just love all the colors you chose!! ❤️ Always enjoy seeing progress gifs too!
    I like the guy as well, he looks very moody and mysterious, although I daresay I was rather fond of the hipster version. I think you were on to something with that one. 😂 But you were right I think, one can’t run a professional business while pranking their costumers, I suppose.
    A grand post, Chalice! Loved watching your process. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww, thanks, Eden! 🥰 You’re so kind!
      I’m so glad you enjoyed this. And yes, I was pretty fond of the hipster version, myself. He needs his own story. 😂
      *le sigh* Alas, I think you’re right… (But will that stop me from doing it. Probably not. XD)
      Thank you again so much! Your comment made me happy. *hug* 🤗💛

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “Why You Probably Shouldn’t Trust Me to Draw Your Characters—I may just turn them into hipsters”
    XD I loved that! This was so funny, Chalice! I also started wondering what a ‘celestial nose’ looks like, and now I do Lol.

    P.s Ah, but I do like the hipster look to that guy… actually, he looks like a nerdy hipster to me, ready to break into a rap song XD

    Like

  5. AAAAHHH you’re so talented Chalice! 😀 *flails* This was very entertaining, and I loved seeing the steps and how the illustrations progressed!

    THAT HIPSTER GUY THO 🤣

    But yeah, I’d be so honored to be one of your clients someday!! 😀 You’re probably one of the most talented artists I’ve ever come across. Seriously. Your art blows me away every time with the depth and raw humanity portrayed and I just can’t get enough of it. ❤

    I would even be perfectly okay with hipster detours along the way! XD

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww, thank you, Elisha! I’m so happy that you enjoyed this. 😊

      Aw, shucks, that is so sweet! 😭💛💛 I don’t know what to say. But thank you. I would be honored to do art for you someday. (And yesss, there would definitely be some sort of detour along the way. 😏 Haha! 😉)

      Liked by 1 person

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