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Making of Halloween Witch by Amber Chen, Georgia Web: www.kagaminoir.com

halloween witch

Concept and Sketch - For this Halloween-themed painting, I wanted to do a sexy pinup girl, and of course, Halloween plus girl equals witch!  With my main subject decided, I considered her pose and the composition for the sketch, and meanwhile I also started thinking about other things that are associated with the holiday: jack-o'-lanterns, black cats, bats.  My goal was to combine these elements without making the image seem overly crowded or busy.  For the sketch, I created a new layer in Photoshop and scribbled out (my sketches are really messy) the basic idea.  This is the sketch I ended up with, although it underwent some tweaking before I settled on it.  For instance, I originally tried putting the bat wings on her hat, but I decided that they were too bulky and didn't flow; I thought they would look cute on the cat instead.  Also, her hands are kind of fudged in right now.  Often I leave the exact details till later, as the sketch for me is just to get the concept sorted out.  In this case, I will refine the hands in the next step.
sketch
Line Art - I used to have well-defined line art in all of my paintings, but I got away from that some time ago.  Every now and again, though, I feel that it would be appropriate for what I'm doing, and I decided that this was one of those times.  So I started a new layer on top of the sketch, lowered the sketch's opacity, and having chosen to go with very thin lines, I got to work with the default 3-pixel round, hard-edged brush in black with pressure sensitivity set to diameter.  (If I want thicker lines, I use the 5-pixel brush.) 

For my purposes, I only lined the things that had definite shapes; I skipped the witch's hair--as well as her face--the cat's fur, the straw of the broom, and the lacy part of her (sheer) top.  And since the wings were attached to the cat, I actually left them off altogether for the moment, and ditto for the ribbon tying her hair.  At this point, I also took the time to properly sort out her hands.  On a new layer, I sketched them out a little more cleanly so that I could complete their line art.

Her left hand wasn't too difficult, but I ended up photographing my hand (holding my tablet pen) as reference for her right hand.



Here is some of the line art at 100% zoom--my working size--so you can see the line quality.  It doesn't need to be absolutely perfect like a vector drawing, and in fact, imperfections and varying line strength give it some life and personality.
Here is the line art superimposed on the original sketch.  You can see that I made a few adjustments, particularly in the area around her right hand, and I got rid of the decoration on the boots.  When I flesh out the painting later, I keep referring to the sketch (it's my uppermost layer) to remind myself what the face, etc. should look like.



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