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My art process - start to finish for the Tennis Girl T-shirt art.

Hope you guys find this interesting!  Any questions, go ahead and put them in comments.  




Hi! I'm Carla with Carla Miller Art, and today I'm going to take you through my basic board process. I'm going to be doing an image for a tennis client. She wants an image of a woman serving a tennis ball. It's a pretty simple design but I almost always work the same way whether I'm doing something more complicated or something simple. What I always do is I start with this pen and paper - it's just the way I like to work,  it feels more natural to me - and then what I do is I take a photo of it and I move it over to my computer and I work on my digital tablet and finish it from there.  So why don't you come on over and I'll show you how I do it.


I know what I want; I love...if you've ever seen Serena Williams or Maria Sharapova, when they serve they're so powerful and it's so graceful, even though they're brutal women in a sense.  And the sense of being so strong and competitive,it's really beautiful to see them serve. And my favorite part is the hand that goes up in the air.  It's not fitting on this piece of paper but I love the extension of the hand to the ball. Of course it would be up here, but I'll worry about that later. So in this sense there's so much going on. There's the arms coming up, your   back needs to arch, this arm is're gonna get the racket back here and I'm off the page here but I just have to do this just cause I need to know what's happening.  That's off.  All right so already that looks way too far technically to do a proper serve at least from what I've seen, but I'm just gonna keep going here. So here is her body arching back and she's gonna have one leg... I'm gonna go to another page to show you... that's a little skirt that's not too much, so she's pretty arched back. You ever seen Roger Federer – really flexible. He just like seems to actually do a back bend.   So okay I'm out of space so I'm just gonna see. I want to check something. The legs... so say I'm up here... so if there's her torso, right... you know she'll have one leg partially bent. I've got to do this like she's gonna lift off because when you serve... she's gonna be lifting up she's gonna be bringing this around to hit the ball up here.  So I just do these little studies as I' know especially if I'm out of paper. Another thing I'm not super happy with is: I think this might come, I think the arm would come... so say that's her arm... oh it's terrible...   okay so let's stick with that. All right, so that's the basic sketch. Right. Normally what I do is add some touches like a long ponytail... so that was super quick. I'm gonna show you what I actually did finish for the sketch and that is...we're here...not that that looks any cleaner, but it has the motion I really wanted and I also... I'm happy with the the right arm serving or the holding the racket. It's a little more accurate; I checked a bunch of images online of professionals and that's more accurate than what I had over here. And also because I didn't fit the feet and the hands - I did little extra studies here just to make sure I was going to get it right when I do the final art. So here, I... what I like about it is I feel like I got the power.  We've got... it's like energy in all different directions: there's upward: she's got to get that arm way up to get the ball up, arch back, but not too arched. I think this is better than the other one...and the powerful legs...she's way more bent here... so you really get a sense she's about to lift off. That's what I was really going for is that moment right before they uncoil and hit the ball. And you know if you've seen tennis you know how fast they serve. They coil up they bend down and spring up... so her gaze is looking up: you see enough of her like that because you want to see that she's a girl and moderately attractive, and I got her body...I didn't want to make her too too feminine...and I want her to look pretty athletic.   And the tennis racket's not perfect, but like I said the most important part is the gesture - the pose, the motion, the feeling... and to me I get feeling out of that so I'm happy with that. So now I'm going to scan this in and then we'll go and cut over to my Cintiq and we'll do the final art.


Okay so here we are in Photoshop. I scanned the image and now it's in Photoshop and here's where I'll do the final artwork. The first thing I do is - you'll see that it's really dark - and what I'll do is I'll do an adjustment layer just so I can see the lines better. I added a brightness contrast adjustment layer in Photoshop so I can see the lines better, and it's important for me to see what's happening   because I'm going to draw over this image in a new layer -  lower that opacity a little bit  - and before I do the actual finished, finished art I'm going to do a quick layer with the brush stroke just to make sure it's working... before I get into the details. So I'm just working really quickly here I'm tracing what I've already done in the sketch which is really where all the hard work happens because that's where the idea is.  Just going really quick I'm not going to worry about accuracy especially as far as that racket goes... because I know I was never able to fit that arm in my sketchpad, so I'm just gonna wing it here. But I'm not really winging it. I practiced it over here so I kind of know what I'm doing.  Her arm, relative to her torso...her legs...once again I didn't finish that, but because I did the studies over here I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do. I want them to be firmly on the ground. Put all that weight down there.  That's the court.  Upper leg..and again I did that study here so it looks like that foot is a little bit up.  That's not working with that, just technically, so I have to fix that because this leg...her left leg would be behind the right leg in fact...I think her right leg is way too short so I'm gonna redo that. All right... so like that... then bring her calf down even more... and what did I do here?   She's lifted up like that alright... that might be better.  Okay then, we got her left leg ... I have to be following that study because this leg... the left leg is a little behind the right leg... it actually has to be a little above to give it the illusion that it's behind.  So I'm taking this say that's a right foot... this is going to have to appear like that one... check it, see how I'm sitting back and we'll take a look ….so it gives the appearance of being farther back. Personally I don't like it - it's too far back, so I'm gonna fix it. So if that's the floor... like you need it to be a little behind it but not ...I don't like it so much... so we're not doing... that sketch and like that... oops, it doesn't look good, that looks way too... she's really planted on that foot.... yeah all right... we'll leave that for now - let me just get these other things in here. Sure, the ball... I'm not gonna worry about that for now because it's gonna make it a super tall document, so I don't want to...might just leave...the ball a mystery... all right, so let me finish this up and then we're gonna take a look at it before I do finish-finish. The feet are looked good here... oh I know...more weight in the heel... see yeah like how I did it there... it's like because she's not really... that's better... I had her up too far...foot's a little small... alright so I'll take that away and see what it looks like... alright... good ...pull back, give you some   perspective... and so I'm pretty happy with that. So now her arm's too big, bigger than the original, which is fine, but it's just...I really wanted to stick to that original ...what I'm looking for...let me just fix this...  I really like that original so that's why I want to stick to the body shape of the original sketch... so I try to get these foundations just what am I looking for here? To see if there's any major defects or anything that's gonna bother me later or something, anything that's not know if it's just her balance is off...her balance looks good... she actually looks like she could stand there and and hold herself... she looks steady... and I think she looks pretty accurate and pretty convincing as someone serving a tennis ball... as someone decent serving a tennis ball... so I think I'm happy with it.  Except the racquet I don't think.. my only issue is I feel like it's hidden a little bit...  behind her head...I also don't mind it so I'm just gonna stick with it for now. All right so now what I do is do clean up... and clean up a lot of times, you know you can do the whole thing over again. But I don't like to... I like to preserve as much of the original line work as possible. So I take that first layer and lock it: that means I can't screw it up and I'm gonna start anew. I'm gonna start some new art. So this is my finished art, but I do like what I did here, so what I'm gonna do is I'm just gonna clean up a little.... fix what I think should be fixed. Like for instance I think that looks okay... this was not right... this has to...that's all right... let me put that together it's technically OK I much tension again... sneaker comes out.. I think tennis sneakers have a little bit of that flat sole... I'll check later on the sneaker...right now I'm mostly concerned about the body... so I like this, I like her neck... I smooth that out ….finger....this is where things for me get a little tricky, and for most artists.  I'm happy....I'm actually pretty happy with that even though it's kind of vague... it's not perfectly defined but that's fine because a lot of times when you perfectly define fingers especially it just looks too... it's like too anatomical, and I can't think of a better way to put it but it's like if I were to do it like a real... it's just like one two, one two three, it's just too much... I just don't like it ...and so I'm just gonna keep it simple...keep the hand simple... like I'll close up the lines and this should come...this handle should come... I definitely want a hint of that handle coming in ...  really make it look like she's gripping it.  I'm definitely gonna have to clean up this racket... round things are harder too... and then this hand -  same thing... how detailed do I want to get... I like the feeling... I like that you feel like it looks like she's tossing it up... which is what I was getting at... I was using my hand here I was looking at my own left hand... her thumb would come out a little bit more like that then you have ...a little more I'm just gonna do three fingers... check what that looks like... I'm gonna take away the original... that's pretty good.  All right then, really the hand has more of a.... looking at my own hand... I should give that more weight like that... then I should come around... I'm looking at my hands as I'm doing this...the rest of this looks pretty good... so the rest of it I was pretty happy with. So right now I'm just sort of connecting the lines, and then I'll do other cleanup.  Like for instance, it's not much definition... or that hair needs to be cleaned up... she looks a little... looks nice... close up that... hat.... I like her face being sort of vague... I definitely don't want this player's character to look like   anyone in particular.... get these tennis shoes to look more like tennis shoes... okay so now what I'm gonna do... I'm gonna lock that so that I don't mess that up... go back to the one below it, unlock it, and then I take out... this is what I do for insurance because I always lose art. I'm gonna duplicate this so that I don't lose anything. I try to keep every layer possible. It creates a huge mess...but this one don't lose any art. Now I'm in that lower layer which is more faded... and I'm gonna... let me start removing some of this art... oops...I'd like these strings...I'm gonna have to redraw these strings anyway ...any time like this you want to get close you don't want to...I'll use my eraser. So what I'm doing is I'm shedding the stuff I didn't want there, so shedding this, shed that... that shouldn't be there... down here we got this... I'm gonna take all this out... I'm gonna take that out... you know it looks better here... same thing... take out all that stuff I don't need. Then   what I'm gonna do is I'm going to come back to this layer which is the lighter layer... well the one I turned down the opacity... and bring up the opacity and check it...make sure I'm happy with the two  layer 8 shows all the little touch-ups I did... then what I'll do... pretty happy with it... happy enough that I'm willing to combine the two... so there you go. So now I'm gonna call that... I'm bringing everything... I'm gonna call that “line art 1” in case I decided to do another one... so now what I'll do is lock it up and I'm going to add some tones... I really like this part...cause it really gives shape to the form and really brings it alive... so I thicken up the brush... the brush point... I really have fun with... I am in a different layer?... okay good, so I'm in a different layer and I'm in a layer below the line art so, I'm safe... I first think about... it's so fun just getting in there... anyway to just add some weight but you really have to think about shadows and what's happening with the environment. So presumably...she's outside with sunlight, so I'm just gonna assume... I'm just gonna make believe that she's out in the noontime sun... and so if that were the case...there'd be shadows underneath her... would be like underneath these areas...definitely under her hat, this side of her ... oops... now I might be sloppy because then I can just go in later... I take my lasso pen and I just clean up like that's basically done. I think for the final I'm going to... because this will be on a t-shirt it really needs to stand out so I'll probably get some blacks going... so I'll know I might... you know I like that, and I think that's gonna help it really stand out on the shirt and whatever else it goes on. I don't know if I need that...I'll keep it... I'm just gonna keep it there and I'm gonna label that layer.  It's blacks. These are my thick blacks...this is grays.  All right so I'm gonna save that... oh one last thing...pull back...make sure everything looks good  from a distance...especially because this is going to be on a product that people will be seeing from a distance... almost like a really needs to telegraph... so I'm happy with it... I obviously have some serious cleaning up to do with all that gray and some of the black lines but.... Anyway that is my basic work process thanks so much and see you next time! 

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1 comment

  • I love it!

    • Audrey