Process: "Mazash!" Commission

The request for this piece was slightly more complex than a standard character portrait. It was for Zatanna, transforming into a Captain Marvel-esque costume by invoking the power of "Shazam" with her powers of logomancy.

So I googled around for some pose references for inspiration. Then I drew up a very loose sketch in my dot grid notebook. I came up with the idea of a bolt of magic power bisecting her figure with the two costumes on each side. The bolt would follow the line of the Captain/Mary Marvel logo on her chest.

Because I'm lazy I won't bother to scan. Just going to snap a photo of the sketch right into Procreate on my iPad.

In procreate, I size and position the sketch how I like, and then trace the body over it in a separate layer.

Then I do each element of the piece in a different color and layer. In this case, both sides of the costume, hair, and the magic bolt of lightning.

Then I just start inking on another layer. Even though it's tempting to use an "ink" brush for me, I want a lot of line width control here, so I am just layering strokes of the 6b pencil brush.

You can see a time-lapse video of the process. I didn't even draw the hands until halfway through inking.

I love working on iPad because I have the comfort of working traditionally... it feels like I'm just doodling in one of my sketchbooks. But I can zoom in on detail with a flick of my fingers, and easily select areas to resize. In this case, the head, which I drew too big initially.

Still lazy... so I just export the PSD file directly to my desktop computer using Air Drop. It pops up on my Mac, I click, and it opens up in Photoshop instantly.

(You can also use DropBox or Google Drive to manage your files. But since I use Apple devices everything is much more connected without the extra steps).

In photoshop, I use the pencil tool and flat out all the colors on one layer. The colors are weird because they are not supposed to represent the final hue, but exist as a field of color that I can easily select with the magic wand tool.

All colors are organized in separate layers and labeled by item. Two Overlay or Color Dodge/Burn layers are at the top for highlights and shadows. I control the separate color and intensity of the highlights and shadows through ⌘+U as the item area is selected.

Also added a Layer Effect of Outer Glow on the lightning bolt. 

For the lettering (not MAZAHS, I know, but it doesn't matter), I sketched the word with the Pencil tool first. This is where I figured out that I could extend the lightning bolt into the Z. I knew I wanted the text to arc and bulge around the figure. So I played around with the lettering using the Edit>Transform>Warp tool, as I could just click and drag it around as I pleased. An unlinked layer mask ensured that it wouldn't cover up the figure.

And finally, the finishing touches... I used one brush to gently stamp out a cloud shape for the background. Added a little light to the tip of her wand. One last adjustment layer of Color Balance to make the colors 'pop.'


For this installment, I'll include a What I Should Have Done: Lettering In The Sketch!

I ALWAYS get bored when it comes to lettering. I didn't see it at the time, but the lettering should have been incorporated into the sketch at the first stage.

I spent an absurd amount of time trying to wiggle it into the rest of the image. For me personally, it will never be ideal.

This is a reminder to all artists, sequential etc, NEVER DO TEXT IN THE LAST STAGE!

Using Format