Nela

I don't know, maybe you are already fed up with those furry, smiling dogs and cats but I had movie prepared and I decided it would be a shame not to show it. There will be a happy dog, buried in autumn leaves, for everyone who wants to become a children's books illustrator, because that was the purpose of this drawing. Apart from watching the movie you can read my description of the whole process.

Version for download takes around 25 minutes and it's in high quality (much higher than the one for the preview, which is also much shorter - dog in 3 minutes yay!).

..:: DOWNLOAD VIDEO-TUTORIAL ::..

At the beginning there is a sketch, of course. In illustration like this one, where the main point is to make the damn dog look cute, because it needs to be instantly loved by children, who will read the book, there are some important points you need to be aware of. Emotions which cover will awaken should be positive. Children want to read a silly story with a happy ending and also parents do not want their kids to cry over a sad book. That's why our main hero should be smiling, nevermind him or her being a dog. That's why we have a silly-looking dog which is jumping in some autumn leaves for the cover, splendid. Next - the colors. I've made a mistake here, I shouldn't have gone that far into the orange (my boss wanted the background to be more or less in one color and absolutely nothing fancy). I changed it to blue one later on, which was a better choice. After we have out sketch and some idea about the colors, we can lower the opacity of the sketch layer and finally start painting for real.

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You can see how on the separate layer I paint doggie's nose with a soft brush. Size of the brush changes because I use short-keys for that, when I pain I always have on hand on the keyboard ;) At first I draw some dark base and on top of it I slowly build lights with low opacity brush. Keeping the opacity low might slow the whole process a bit but lets me change color less often so I don't get distracted all the time. I move further from nose, adding more lights and shadows, trying to build the whole mouth. It's a bit messy right now but it's all right, I only need to see if all elements fit together nicely.

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Finally the eyes. At first I only add dark over lines and balls, then some visible white and highlights. Light reflecting from the eyes is very important here, big, shiny eyes are the leverage card for every cute puppy, every publisher knows that ;D As you can see on the movie painting those shiny dots is not very complicated, you just need to know where to put them and remember about adding some more, less visible lights apart from the main highlight. When eyes are shiny enough I draw edges for ears and add some more lights, shadows and colors to the whole head, making flat surfaces a little more interesting. Smudge tool helps me to move some edges around if I don't like the shape.

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Then comes the fur. It's another very important element since the puppy obviously needs to be soft and fluffy and all. How couldn't it be like this, right? So I pick my brush and my smudge tool and with small lines I slowly build up the furry look of my happy-go-lucky dog. I use brush to add some short lines with a color similar to the one at the base and then with smudge tool I make them a bit more soft looking. I also refine edges, making them hairy too. As you can see it's pretty easy, just takes lot's of time. Other than painting fur I add some more detail on the nose. Sharp and small highlights make it look wet.

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Then I paint the tongue and jaw. You can also see me copy-pasting the eye - I do that to be sure that their shape is identical. Usually I avoid doing that kind of things but there was something wrong with that eye and I wasn't sure what so... :D That was the easiest way. After that I simply paint more and more fur just to cover the whole head.

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When fir is finally ready I add new clipping mask above my dog and pick "Overlay" blending mode for it. That way I can easily add some warm light from above which makes my doggie look more interesting. Then I refine fir some more because additional light tends to flatten shadows and I move to those leaves on the bottom. Honestly speaking I really hated painting them, leaves are not my favorite topic... At first I just make shape right by erasing or moving edges, then I add some shadows and veins. I use some texture brush a bit since soft one is too simple to make this look acceptable quick.

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Then I add some dirt texture - you can find lots of such brushes in the net, and I refine details with a smudge tool. I don't want this texture to be too visible since that would make leaves stick out more than the dog and we want to avoid such situation. Leaves are just an addition here and detail is what viewer eye catches easily. Then I copy the whole leaves layer, move it to the back and blur out to create illusion of the background. After that two tricks: I copy all layers merged and paste this new layer on the top, changing it's blending mode to overlay and blurring it a lot. That way I enhance contrast and make lights look softer. Sometimes that helps. Then I sharpen the whole picture so that details are more visible.

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And here you have it, finished cover, where the background changes. Nela, since that's how that dog is called, looks better on the cold color, like blue. And that's all! Hope you liked it :)