Monday, December 23, 2013

Carolers Process: Finish! (And a Merry Christmas to All of You!)

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Here we are - the final! 
When we left off last post, I had just begun adding color to the painted elements that I had composed in the image. Now, many layers later, I've arrived at my finished piece. The basic process is just a lot of tweaking, color choices, adjustment layers (Overlay for the light areas) and texture brushes.

I hope it looks okay here on the web - I had some issues making sure that the color translated well to the web version (I painted it in CMYK, so I ended up exporting it as a PNG to make sure all the color information was intact.) I really enjoyed exploring this new method of working, and to be honest, I've learned a lot with this painting, and you'll be seeing much more of this process from now on!
 I'm really excited about this piece, and I look forward to exploring new territory in the New Year.

  So, I wish you all the Merriest of Christmases. I'm thankful for all of you and for this great gift of Illustration that we can share with each other!


PS: Today I opened my mailbox to find a lovely gift from illustrator Joe Sutphin! Inside were these beautiful signed prints and a kind note. Joe is a fantastic illustrator, and if you aren't familiar with his work, be sure and check it out here:

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Carolers Process Part II: Digital Composition & Coloring

 Hey guys! So, I haven't had a lot of time to work on this piece since the last time I posted, but I made sure to take some WIP shots of the compilation stage. Basically, I'm painting elements of the image separately, and then compiling them into a composition that I am happy with. 
 So, let's jump into it!

In the image above, I've scanned in a page of painted elements. They were all done in watercolor. After I scan these into the computer, I open the image in Photoshop where I convert it to black & white (or, Image > Adjustments > Black & White). Then I adjust the Levels until I have mostly black and a completely white background. In the images here, I actually made my levels too grey, which forced me to go back and re-do a lot of my work because the grey areas became transparent. (more on that later).
Also, note the cluttered desktop, and the Cory Godbey desktop background :)

Now I'm ready to copy everything to its own layer!

 This is a slow process. It's a good idea to have some music on to keep you motivated! (I've been enjoying the new Sigur Rós album, some Christmas music, whatever helps me work!) At this stage, I use the Lasso tool to select the element I want. I then Command + click on the RGB Channels in the Channels palette. I then invert the selection (Shift+Command+I) and make a new Layer. I then fill the selection with Black (Alt+Delete). After all this is done, I select all and copy to a new layer in my painting, and then place the new layer on Transparency Lock (it's a little button on the layer palette).
This might sound like a complicated process, but it doesn't take too long when you get it committed to memory.

Now all the elements are ready to be re-sized and moved into position.

Now that each of my elements are on their own layer and on transparency lock, I can start arranging them into a pleasing composition. This step seemed to take the longest. During the process I referred to my rough sketch frequently to make sure things were where I wanted them. Also, you'll notice that everything is a bit too transparent. That's because I didn't get the blacks dark enough in the previous Levels stage. That's important! But you can see that I'm starting to lay out the scene like I want it.

Since my layers are on Transparency Lock, this means I can color them however I want without having to do any complicated selections, so everything stays neat and tidy. At this stage, I'm just laying down basic colors. I've also discovered how to make some decent texture brushes, which I'll be using to add more color and texture to the final image. The characters are being colored here with just a flat color layer underneath the line work.

So that's about it for this stage! My goal is to have this image finished by next Wednesday, so watch this space for the final image soon. Let me know if this tutorial-type stuff is interesting to you. I want to try to give you all a glimpse into what I'm learning in hope that you'll in turn learn something as well.

And finally, I want to thank Chuck Groenink for his kind advice that he's given me personally and through his blog. I have been very inspired by his work lately, along with many others. The new methods of working I've been experimenting with are largely influenced by his paintings. Be sure and check out his work here:

Next Time: Final Color & Texture!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Carolers Process Part I: Thumbnails & Drawing

Here's a new personal piece I'm working on. I'm going to be chronicling the new methods that I'm trying out lately here on the blog, so I hope you'll enjoy following along as I get this one put together!

For this first stage, I started with a very quick thumbnail. I had one idea in my head, and it worked pretty good in the first sketch, so I went with it. I scanned this sketch into Photoshop, where I hastily added some values on top of it. This is what I'm referencing mainly as I work on the image.

On this piece, I'm going to be creating the image with separate "parts". So instead of just putting all the line work down in one drawing, then painting it, I'm painting and drawing elements of the whole image separately so I can rearrange and edit the final piece in Photoshop.

I did each of these main character drawings in about 40 minutes.

For the next stage I'll be scanning these into Photoshop, 
adjusting levels, and separating the line work!

Next Time:  Painting, Compiling and Adjusting!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Drawing the Sword Thanksgiving Giveaway!

Hi Everybody!

In celebration of my newly opened Etsy shop, and in honor of the Thanksgiving
holiday, I'm holding a giveaway!

Prizes include:
Hand-signed copy of my new sketchbook 
Set of (6) Christmas Cards
(1) Hand-signed Pilgrim Girl print 

Feel free to enter any of the listed ways!

Also, now until Nov. 30th you can get free shipping on any order of $15 or more in my Etsy Shop by using promo code:


Good luck, Happy Thanksgiving, and thank you for your support!


Saturday, November 23, 2013

New Directions: Part I

Here's a quick painting I did this afternoon. It took me around 2 hours. 

Lately, I've been very inspired by illustrators like Chuck Groenink, Meg Hunt, and Jon Klassen who create very texture-driven, more simplistic illustrations. This method of creating an image is really interesting to me, and I am really eager to explore the relationship between simple drawings and hand-painted textures and the final Photoshop image.

Overall, I'm pleased with the direction this image took. It's got a little more playfulness, color and texture, and that's what I'm aiming for. I think it's good to try to stretch yourself in new directions in your own work, and that's what I hope to do with the next several pieces. I hope to post more of these in the next week or so as I continue to explore new methods of working.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Drawing the Sword: A Collection of Drawings by Will Kelly

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to present to you my 2013 Sketchbook!

After many long months of planning, work and preparation, I'm pleased to announce that my newest personal project Drawing the Sword: A Collection of Drawings is now available on Etsy!

I am so thrilled to be able to offer you this small glimpse into my creative world, and my imagination. It has been a fantastic project, and I'm so excited that I have achieved this creative milestone. And I'm equally thrilled to see where my work will go from here!

A brief description from Etsy:

"Drawing the Sword" is the first-ever printed collection of work by illustrator Will Kelly. Part I is a series of 4 brand-new drawings created specifically for this book. Part II is filled with drawings from 2012 and 2013. This 32-page sketchbook is filled with things Will loves to draw - animals, knights, castles, forests. He hopes you enjoy this peek into his imagination!

Drawing the Sword: A Collection of Drawings by Will Kelly

32 pages, perfect-bound soft cover.

NOTE: The first 10 books sold will include a numbered, hand-signed sketch in the front!

All books are hand signed by Will. 

Get your copy here, along with other original drawings, paintings, and other cool stuff!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

2013 Sketchbook: News Update and WIP!

Because it is mere days until I hope to offer my new 2013 sketchbook (and due to the fact that I simply cannot wait!) I wanted to drop in a little sneak peek of a WIP painting I've been working on the last several days.

This piece entitled "Fisherman's Song" will be included in its black and white form in my forthcoming sketchbook. A color version (which you see above) will be included in a digital version of the sketchbook, which will include some bonus content, and will be available for download on Etsy. The plan is to offer the physical sketchbook, as well as a digital version which will include a few color paintings. The above painting will also serve as a promotional postcard, which I plan on sending to art directors, etc.

The above piece was created to be a part of a series of 4 new drawings that I created specifically for this personal project. I did them all over the course of The Lamp Post Guild's "Art of Personal Work" with Cory Godbey. I would strongly recommend you take this class if you're interested in building your portfolio, getting the attention of potential clients, or just interested in developing your voice as an artist in general. I cannot stress enough how beneficial this class was in my pursuit of illustration as a career, and I hope some of you will find it to be helpful as well!

Our Fall Class begins on Nov. 18th, 2013, and registration is open! You can sign up at

and you can find an article by Cory on the importance of personal work (and a discount code!) here:

Thanks for reading, and I will be posting more soon!


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Photoshop Character Study: Professor

Decided to go in a bit of a different direction with this one.

Photoshop allows me to really play around with shapes - I can endlessly create shapes on separate layers, then pose and adjust them until I get a finished product I'm pleased with. 
I'm always really nervous when the topic of "style" comes up, but I really have a huge interest in doing kid's books, so this particular "style" is something I'm toying around with. I'll do a super fast sketch in my sketchbook to get the basic feel of the character, then start immediately composing on the computer. It's a fast and fun process...

Also, I'm interested in playing with color more lately, and Photoshop offers great tools for that. You may be seeing a lot more of this type of work in the future. Stay tuned!

P. S. : ALSO! Sketchbooks have been ordered! Watch this space for more information on getting yours in the next week or so!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

INKtober Day 31: The Final Horn Sounds (INKtober Showcase

Well my friends, another INKtober is in the books!
This isn't the most spectacular finish to a whole month of daily drawings (and if anything, 
it emphasizes the amount of practice I need in drawing both equestrian and human anatomy), but I
wanted to say thank you so very much for all the support and appreciation I've received this month. 
All of your comments and "likes" and feedback mean so much to me.

I'd like to offer this short showcase of all the drawings I created over the past month as my way
of showing my appreciation for you. November is going to hold some exciting new 
things for me to share with you, so I'm looking forward to jumping into more projects
and new and exciting things!


INKtober Day 30: Walrus Joins the Navy

Walruses were born for the Navy life. They have no trouble adjusting to life onboard a ship,
it's just fitting into the sailor's uniform that gives them trouble.
Otherwise, being a Navy SEAL is a great job for a Walrus.

(you see what I did there?)

INKtober Day 29: The Teensy Weensy Bit Sadistic Spider

Will the fly escape?

(Probably not)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

INKtober Day 28: Special Delivery

This bee is serious about getting the mail through.

Okay, this is all for today - if you haven't caught on already, I got way behind again on Inktober, and I was playing catchup. I'll have the rest up tomorrow, along with the LAST DRAWING and hopefully a video showcase of all the drawings this month. See you soon!

INKtober Day 27: Mr. Tumnis of Narnia

Mr. Tumnis of Narnia.

INKtober Day 26: Girl & Dog

Today's drawing, in which you learn not to draw legs like Will does.
Seriously kids, don't do it. It will get you into trouble.

INKtober Day 25: Golden Eagle

Thursday, October 24, 2013

INKtober Day 24: Dwarf Cookout!

When the autumn nights get colder, the best way to spend the evening is around a campfire with people you love cooking good food.
This Dwarf and the bear cub he adopted always welcome a hearty meal. The only downside is there
is only one drumstick between the two of them. You can be sure there will be a 
bit of a tussle to decide who gets the biggest piece!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

INKtober Day 23: The Chimney Sweep

If upon a blustery autumn's eve The Chimney Sweep should float to your door and knock,
don't let him in. He will cause mischief beyond your wildest imagination.

Ignore him, and eventually he'll float over to visit your neighbor, who won't have learned
anything about The Chimney Sweep (because he doesn't read this blog like you do!) who will wreak
havoc where ever he pleases.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

INKtober Day 22: Mrs. Ant's World Famous Pies

Mrs. Ant is know far and wide for her exceptional pie-making skills, which she obtained
by sampling pies for years on picnic blankets throughout the meadow. Displayed
here are custard, cherry, pumpkin and apple (her personal favorite).

INKtober Day 21: Dr. Wooly Caterpillar

When it comes time to make his house calls, each of Dr. Caterpillar's legs want to go at a 
different speed, causing him much frustration and sometimes making him late.

INKtober Day 20: Mr. Grasshopper & Mr. Beetle

Mr. Grasshopper & Mr. Beetle relax and catch up on the latest news underneath
an obliging toadstool.

INKtober Day 19: Hedgehog & Bug

Okay, this one almost feels like cheating it's so simple. Sort of ran out of steam on it.
Also, I needed to catch up so...

Sunday, October 20, 2013

#INKtober Day 18: Feirce Orc

Welcome to Orthanc! Now please leave.

Don't laugh, you would be cranky too if you had to work for a jerk like Saruman.

Speaking of which, I saw the new Hobbit trailer in front of 'Gravity' this afternoon! It looks like it's 
going to be a really good movie - it appears as though things are going to get 
a little more complex in the second installment, which is good in my opinion.
And Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug is going to be fantastic.

'Til next time folks!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

INKtober Day 17: General Brutus of the Mastodon Marines

After receiving a commission in the Continental Drift army, Mr. Brutus went on to forge a 
distinguished career for himself as a General. It soon became clear that when fighting
Smilodon Guerrilla forces, there were few as skilled as General Brutus of the Mastodon Marines.

INKtober Day 16: Pumpkin Gnome

I like drawing this little gnome guy. I may watercolor it soon, but I just didn't have the time
to do a good job with it today.

INKtober Day 15: Ugly Dragon

Not really sure what happened here, I knew that I hadn't drawn a dragon yet for Inktober, 
so I did. But things got a little crazy. 
You can bet that he isn't one of the good guys.

INKtober Day 14: Her Royal Majesty the Queen

When Her Majesty the Queen commands, you'd better obey.

(My apologies again for the strange image quality on some of these... I don't understand
why some images are showing up grainy and blurry and others aren't?
It seems no matter the resolution I save as, it still happens).

INKtober Day 13: Royal Guard

Life on the Calormene/Archenland border frontier is not easy, but being in the pay of the Tisroc's Royal Guard is a good way for a Narnian Dwarf to learn the secrets of the Calormenes,
in order to better inform The High Kings and Queens in Cair Paravel of enemy movements.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

INKtober Day 12: Mr. Tortoise in His Sunday Best

Well, I've missed 4 days of Inktober (is it more? I don't really know!) So I'm trying to make up for it.
I drew this one on Sunday, but it really was supposed to be Saturday's drawing. I have some more
drawings in the works, but they're going to have to wait until tomorrow. 
Sorry about all the crazy confusion!

Mr. Tortoise always wears his Sunday best when he goes out to call on his neighbors. He is particularly proud of the blue feather in his fedora and his yellow necktie, which was 
lovingly sent to him by his grandmother Gertrude some years back.

Friday, October 11, 2013

INKtober Day 11: Elf

Today's Drawing: An Elf! 
This may or may not be a Legolas from The Lord of the Rings.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

INKtober Day 10: Chobo the Warrior Tabby (Spera Fan Art)

Chobo the Warrior Tabby is also a character from Spera. He's a treasure hunting, no-nonsense cat.
He's one of my favorite characters from the comic, and it was a lot of fun drawing and painting him.