Character Development – Workflow

Chessia - Dwarf and Goblin Character Concept Art

This is a step-by-step walk-through of how the above images above were created. Both use a very similar workflow, which is outlined for each below. These images were rendered using Adobe Photoshop.

Part 1: Dwarf

First quick line concepts were created for the character. In this case we were looking for a dwarf. These sketches are designed as an iterative process – during which different ideas are explored, either by varying upon a theme or attempting alternate conceptual directions.

Dwarf concept line sketches
Dwarf concept line sketches

Then, a group of sketches are selected for continued development. In this case, nearly all the sketches were chosen for the tone value study. The purpose of this portion of the work flow is to 1) separate out some of the better line sketches, and to 2) quickly identify which of those sketches should be taken to a higher level of finish. These tone studies, like the sketches are done quickly, since the majority of forms rendered may not be taken to a higher finish.

Dwarf tonal value study
Dwarf tonal value study

Next, the tonal form maybe expanded upon and given continued definition. In this case, concept was further developed by giving our Dwarf an axe, an arm, and a bit of a torso. Color is introduced when large forms are established. The picture is then after worked on, adjusted, refined and detailed until either a satisfactory design is reached.

Dwarf concept, color development workflow
Dwarf concept, color development workflow

The final image to emerge from the process is placed on a contrasting background to identify where dirty edges and transparent areas of the paint layer. This is a good time to clean up the picture a bit.

Dwarf Concept - upper body 2D color render
Dwarf Concept – upper body 2D color render

Since the ultimate intended placement of our dwarf needs a basic background, a quick color sketch is done of an appropriate landscape. This image could itself be taken to a higher level of finish than here pictured. To save time, photographic reference as used to rapidly add texture to the image.

Landscape concept sketch
Landscape concept sketch

Our dwarf and background are then combined. In this instance, only a bust of the character was needed. In the interest of time, a only the upper body of the character was rendered. This concept could be further developed to include the dwarf’s body, and costume, and environment. In this case, the image has also been reflected.

Dwarf Character 1:1 Icon / Presentation Image
Dwarf Character 1:1 Icon / Presentation Image

Part 2: Goblin

Below are the repeated steps for the Goblin Character. Generally, the workflow is the same as the Dwarf, but with some notable acceptations. First we start with quick line drawings.

Goblin concept line sketches
Goblin concept line sketches

A tone study of the character is done – using just a bit of color drawn from a background. The images below were painted on deep neutral green background from which they were cut out before being placed on contrasting white background as shown here. Of course, neutral gray can be used too. In case of the dwarf above, a warm red clay color was used as a background for this step of the process.

Goblin tonal value study
Goblin tonal value study

From here, a tonal sketch is selected for further development. Unlike the dwarf, saturated colors were introduced early. In this case, the vibration of the color keys made seeing form through tone more challenging. Ornamentation was added to the design in the final stage, giving this goblin a distinct character and adding to story concept.

Goblin concept, color development workflow
Goblin concept, color development workflow

Here is our cut-out Goblin. Notice, that unlike the Dwarf, many of the edges remain rough in the below image, and there are areas of semi-transparency. Spotting these problems is the purpose of this stage of the process, since they are hardly noticeable on the brown background as shown in the workflow pictured above.

Goblin Concept – upper body 2D color render
Goblin Concept – upper body 2D color render

Another landscape concept is rapidly generated to situate the character in an environment. A ‘badlands’ or ‘wastland’ idea was implemented.

Landscape concept sketch
Landscape concept sketch

Once more, our character and background are combined.

Goblin Character 1:1 Icon / Presentation Image
Goblin Character 1:1 Icon / Presentation Image

If you have an questions or comments about any part of the digital painting workflow show here, please let us know in the comments below, or email to [email protected]

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