Thursday 17 June 2010

I realised today that while I sometimes post process gifs and WIP shots, I always neglect the most important initial parts of a drawing. I've just started work on a new fairytale picture and I thought this would be an excellent oppurtunity to rectify that omission. So without further ado, here we go!


I can't really give any pointers for how to get "the idea" in the first place, as it can come from any number of places; something you see in the street, something you read in a book or watch in a film, or something that just suddenly occurs to you. In this case, my missus said to me "why don't you do a picture of the three little pigs?" and immediately I got a couple of images in my head - a sure sign that it's a good idea!

The next bit unfortunately doesn't have a lot of documentation because most of it is going on my head; pondering situations, scenarios ,positions and compositions etc. I finally half settled on the idea of three "pigs" (cute pink curvy blonde women) who had just been having a lovely bath when the evil "wolf" (tall, athletic scary woman) blew their house down. I considered making the wolf both a big nasty Wolf or a scary man, but as the pigs were going to be really dominated I thought it would be a bit rapey, so went with a woman instead.
During this process I'll normally make a few scribbled notes and doodles on whatever paper I can find lying around. Here's one I scanned in:

All the writing (apart from "dinosaur", I've got no idea where that came from) is stuff that I thought might make good reference or prompts to remind of ideas so I don't forget.
At one point I was thinking of drawing one of the pigs still in the bath, but decided against it eventually. Here are the doodles:


This is where I actually start the drawing proper. I liked the general composition of the doodle in the first sketch, so I scanned that into photoshop and redrew it in slighty more detail. If you look closely you can see the "cuts" in the image where I've grabbed a section of it in photoshop and pulled it around to a postion I like.

At this stage I'm still not entirely settled on anything, just doodling around the image trying to get shapes I'm happy with. It generally involves putting each character on a separate layer in photoshop and scaling them around, changing limb positions and so on. Once I've got a composition I think will work and an idea of how I want the final image to look I'll move onto the next stage.


I should say that I don't actually think about this process in stages, I'll just do it as I find necessary. I might get reference first, or not at all. Sometimes I go straight into drawing in Photoshop and skip the doodling stage altogether. I'm just writing it out this way because it's a general approximation of how I work and makes it easier to read. Okay, so, stage three.
This is the part where using all the ideas, sketches and notes I've got so far I'll start googling for images that might be useful. This can range from images that might be good for anatomy to stuff that might have the "look" I'm aiming at for the final finish. For this image I ended up with a ton of stuff ; old master paintings, disney images, pinup photos, nature photography and more. I probably won't use half of it but even just looking for it is useful because it helps solidify in my head exactly what I want the picture to look like. I normally keep all the images separate or paste groups of them together in one image (ie "wolf", "laying pig" etc) but for the purposes of demonstration I've pasted a few of them over the sketch so you can see the relevance.


Now's the time when I stop procrastinating and doing all the things I do to distract myself; "accidentally" looking at porn when I'm reference gathering, writing process essays that no-one will ever read and anything else I can and will do (unintentionally normally; I LIKE drawing!) to delay actually getting started. Just straight drawing from now on! Using all the initial ideas and all the reference I've gathered I'll start tightening the loose sketch up and trying to fix any composition and anatomy issues. For example you might notice that the previously standing pig is now kneeling. That was because I wanted her head at a certain height for the composition, but she just looked too short and stunted standing up so I got her on her knees. I also pulled out the laying pigs arm a little to balance the image and tweaked the pose of the wolf a little to make her appear more arrogant.

So that's where I'm up to so far. All this is still up in the air though, and I'll keep pulling the poses and composition around right through the whole process. One thing that really is invaluable and I do it A LOT is flipping the image horizontally. Seeing the picture the other way round will often make me notice mistakes that I hadn't otherwise seen.

Ok, that's it for now! I'll post more as I do it. Hope that was interesting enough and I didn't ramble too much!


Unknown said...

very nice! thanks!♥

Anonymous said...

Love it so far can't wait for some more!!

Mike Philbin said...

singing, "GOTTA SEE MORE"

Is the background gonna be like a bomb-hit living room? Nighttime sky? or Daytime forest?

pablo pablo said...


Anonymous said...

It is fascinating to read about your process. Look forward to reading more.


really nice to see some process....I'll study this again later when I have some more time...but for now I just wanted to thumbs up...

jake gumbleton said...

Great to see you explaining some of your magic mate. Looking forward to seeing how this one turns out. The Rafael-esque quality of the piggies is very promising.

You want to play again soon? Be ace to see you. I was thinking of trying to pick a date and have a bit of a character artist reunion, get everyone together for a weekend.
maybe end of July time?

You have been turning out some ace work over the last year or so. Really slick stuff.

Aidan said...

what jake said!

Ben Newman said...

awww, cheers you guys!
MIKE: you'll just have to wait and see!
CAKEY: yeah, I'm def. up for a meet up. I'm booked up till at least august though :(

Anonymous said...

Um... Bring back DINOSAUR.

spleenal said...

is that Gauge I see top right corner of your reference page?
You can't go far wrong there.

BobE said...

Wonderful to see the thought and work process Ben

Keep it coming

Nathan Andrew said...

First of all, thanks for putting this up here. It's great to see your thought doodles and notes. There are plenty of egotistical artists out there that would never show those things.

Secondly, lol - I think we share almost identical work modes. Including "accidental" porn viewing. My wife will say "looking at porn again!? You better finish your work on time!!"

Anonymous said...

That's nice, i really liked it. I like the idea of getting the idea :D . "three little pigs? hmm...fuck yeah let's do it" But what would happen if you were to do something deeply in culture or tradition, like koi fish or smth ? Would you also augment the idea as to add "unmatching" touch to it, like...dunno...steampunk maybe? I already know your works are quite surrealistic, and your feeling of curved perspective is great, but i'm just wondering what would happen if you were to mix completely different things...pickled cucumbers and vanilla ice maybe :D
Hope it was some food for thought, keep on your good work. Cheers

Anonymous said...


Unknown said...

Wanna thank you for sharing your process in this and next posts. When you ain't got where to study or training or any other way to access this 'know how' stuff you really appreciate this kind of iniciative. Sorry my english. Saludos y gracias.

Ben Newman said...

Thanks Charles; I'll get round to finishing this picture/tutorial at some point I promise!