The almost-final rough looked like this:
My next step: print the rough at 100% final print size and do what I call the ‘gestural rough’. This is a more complex rough where I nut out the fine details of facial expressions, body language, page bleed, etc. I also scan this in and plan out how the page border will work, and whether I can fit in all the runes needed to make the phrase legible.
(I really like the line quality in these final roughs; I’ll have to try using this style in a book one day).
Then I trace the gestural rough with a HB lead pencil. This is the final clean linework, ready to be scanned and coloured digitally.
I used digital watercolour in Corel Painter for the Viking books. I started by adding the shadows with a brown or purple/grey colour, just as in a normal watercolour painting.
This step allows you to determine the light source in the scene. All colours are laid over this shadow layer, which gives all the shadows a consistent base colour value.
I used a photograph of pebbles to provide a dragon scale texture. (I’ll talk about this more in a future post).
I used the digital watercolour brushes in Corel Painter to colour the dragon and Odin.
I also added in the border which I had pre-prepared in the earlier rough stage, using the same texture from The Last Viking.
I added the background cloud and character colours in Photoshop …
… then the distant background colours. I also added a parchment texture to the scroll and applied a burnt look using Photoshop’s Burn Tool.
My final step was to add warm highlighting. The light source is off-page to the right; it’s the setting sun, so it needs to be casting a warm glow over everything. This gives Fafnir a dramatic rim-light.
I also added shadows and highlights to the borders to help sell the illusion that they’re an actual part of the scene.
And there you have it – the final illustration. I was really happy with the way this one turned out; it’s a bit different to how I originally imagined it but it has the feel I wanted.
Thanks for reading!