I have often had people see me drawing on my computer and ask me how I do it. My usual smart-ass reply is, "I hold the pen in my hand, like so. Then I drag it across the pad, and it makes a mark on the screen. Isn't it amazing?" I have a Wacom art pad (the Bamboo Fun style) that is simple and very easy to use. I am not exaggerating when I am a smartass, that is genuinely how easy it is to use them. I mean, sure, they require a little extra hand-eye coordination, since you're watching your drawing on the screen, not as you draw it on the pad. It's disconcerting when you first try, but I really enjoy it. The ability to erase over and over without wearing your paper thin is an unsung virtue, in my opinion.
I have, on a few occasions, agreed to give some people basic art lessons. These never go over well, since most people find the basics boring. It's unfortunate, because the basics are the most important part. I have since given up, and refuse to teach anyone, even if they genuinely want to try. "Practice," I tell them. "Find some anatomy and botany books, look around online, and practice."
Everyone draws differently. Bob uses lots of layers, and his personal style is kind of squared and comic-bookish. Caryn works wonders with color and loves putting in fine details, but her drawings tend to be a little long and slightly gothic with a heavy anime-overtone. My art leans towards a comfortable median between comic book detail and design and anime-like simplicity. For a good portion of my drawing career I was pretty erratic in my style, trying to find the middleground that was most comfortable to me.
When I start a new picture, I use a basic frame that helps me decide about where the important parts should be first, and then start to flesh out the areas around it.
This is Layer 1.
At first, everything is very vague and primarily just shapes mashed together into a figure. Usually people can't really tell what I'm drawing at first. This is the second step, where I've begun to figure out how the muscle and fat on the frame has settled into position.
For this part, I usually keep my brush at about 50% opacity.
Layer 2 goes up next, and my brush opacity usually jumps to somewhere around 80%. This one I've got it at 100%.
This is step 3, where I start to finalize the frame and outline, adding in details to flesh out everything and make it more recognizable. This is a good place for me to make a save, in case something goes horribly awry later on in the process. I can get rid of what I have ruined and start again from this part.
Perspective comes into play here, as with the turned hind leg and slight turn of the head.
By the way, this is Kobold, if you haven't noticed.
Current working time: about fifteen minutes
This is Layer 3. Well, technically it's Layer 3. What this really is is a copy of Layer 2, cleaned up and fixed. You can see that I've removed Layer1, you can't see it any more. This is the finalized outline, completed and ready to color.
The cleaning step is the second-longest out of all of them, bringing my current working time up to forty-five minutes.
Next comes the hardest and longest step: coloring. This really is a process in itself, requiring a base color, highlights, and shadows. Three layers to a single step, with tweaking and lots of editing in between.
This is the base color layer. What this step does is give me a palette (top left) to work off of, and help me place the colors where they ought to be. Now, I didn't luck out and get a tri-color german shepherd hybrid. Of course not. I got the mashed-together blend of reds, oranges, and golds that make up the less-common coats of the breed. Not that he isn't gorgeous, but it makes coloring rather fidgety.
Now, using the smudge, blur, dodge, and burn tools, I can add a fur effect and get the shading juuuuuuuust right. Unfortunately for you, if you were really paying attention, I'm not going to go over this step in detail. It's a lot of little strokes with (fingers crossed) precision. The undo button is used a lot.
But, bringing my project time to a round hour and a half, here is the finished product, and the picture I drew it from:It's not perfect, I know. But it's pretty good, and I'm happy with it.
"The right person in the wrong place can make all the difference."