This painting was actually done back in July. It has a couple “first in a while” elements: the first Chikara painting since 2007, the first digital lineart since 2010, and the first cell-shade painting since, well, last year. Also of note is a from scratch, no lineart background that isn’t just a tree. Or a shadow. Or a rectangle.
My painting bucket list has been perpetually full since early 2012 when I told J I was going to do three paintings that I really liked (after a long streak of ones that I didn’t really like), and subsequently started this push to clean up lineart. Shortly after I tackled pen traces, which eventually led to the ink revolution, but in the process I put digital ink on hold… but many good and bad experiments later, we’ve finally gotten there.
I’m pretty happy with this lineart, and after some consideration, I’m convinced that it’s mainly the result of brute force practice. I moved away from digital linearts because I felt that I was losing something in the layers of abstraction between the original (paper) and final (digital) linearts. In retrospect I would attribute that to the various pains that come with drawing on tablets: the lack of feedback, the inaccuracy of the pen, the difficulty of rotating the canvas, and so on and so forth. None of this has actually changed; I think I’m just a little bit better at dealing with it.
The ultimate goal here is not just to do digital inking, but to do it from scratch, and this painting and the next are intended to push the envelope from here to there. The original lineart here is one from 2007; I believe this was supposed to be the aforementioned Chikara 2007 painting, but I opted for the other one instead. The digital lineart is kind of a tracing, but it’s also a completely new lineart, backdraw and all, with a whole bunch of tweaks. In the next painting, the final lineart will be even further removed from the original.
Some additional tidbits of note:
As mentioned, the background is all paint from scratch: the original lineart had no background, so I backdrew something, finalized it, painted it, and got rid of the lineart. I actually debated whether to have the lines or not; had I not had that debate I might have been able to skip a step. The train and building on the right are pretty good, but the foliage and the debris on the left are less good. I think I made a mistake by not putting it on a different layer as I kind of wanted to lower the opacity in the end.
Lineart styling marks the return of what I called thin-lined digital lineart, which had been in use as early as the Tales of the Abyss 2007 painting. Again, it’s really only a little bit cleaner, but it was apparently very hard to get there.
I noticed something about eyes while doing this: in an angled view, the pupils shouldn’t be centered in both eyes. Seems obvious, but I always assumed otherwise, and it may contribute to why some paintings are rubbish and some are not. I think this is an example of a small tweak that makes a big difference.
What has changed the most in my drawing is actually one of the things I changed the least from the original lineart. The gun is definitely the product of a different era; I would never design something like that today, and I don’t know if that is a good or bad thing. I think it has a very strong MegaTokyo influence, and that happened to catch my attention.
The clouds turned out pretty well too, especially considering that I didn’t do anything fancy.
I didn’t comment on the actual cell-shading as it isn’t really that special. Good lineart > good painting.