I have a tendency to expand the projects I do into series. One drawing turns into two and two expand to ten. My recent series is a collection of cats drawn in detail as fantasy heroes. It began last year as a single drawing I did over the course of several long commutes to college, an exotic black cat in 15th century armor – not unusual for those at all familiar with my artwork themes. Many months later I decided to begin making more portraits of cats – each as a unique fantasy class or archetype in the same style. I have now finished drawing 9 of the 10 I have planned. Originally I was going to keep the background a simple gradient but I kicked it up a little by adding a background to each that complements the character.
People seem to really enjoy them and I figured they are quite a unique niche so I added a section for fantasy pet portraits to my new commissions page. My first commission was, to my surprise, a ranger horse.
I decided to up the ante on the project and began coloring all the pictures digitally in Photoshop. This involves some major decisions as there are a number of ways this could be done. I could keep it simple and add broad areas of colour using different layer settings such that the original drawing still shows almost as it was. This would preserve more of the original graphite lines and feel. But I went with a more complex approach that both colours the original and adds additional layers of colour and details that do not necessarily exist in the original. I like doing detailed work and the options in photoshop for adding details are endless with the benefit that they are often far less effort to implement than in traditional media. For instance, drawing crisp, white whiskers with graphite requires a lot of planning and careful attention. Not so in Photoshop. “Fur” brushes, yes please.
Editing and refining bits of the original drawings is far more involved than just colouring in the lines. But I’m glad I’m putting the time in. It is great digital painting practice and the results so far are great. In the future I may draw them digitally from the start – this would probably save some time. However, I am far more practiced in graphite drawing and there is something special about having a physical, non-reproduced, drawing that I like so I doubt I will be going full digital anytime soon.