Today I have a traditional drawing of a centaur for you. It is a commission for a game called Fanstratics. I finished this image on a livestream a few weeks ago and thought I’d share several screenshots today on the process to give a few brief tips for taking a simple line sketch to a finished tight drawing.

Step 1: I make a Coffee. Never start without a coffee.

Step 1.5: I begin with a clean and simple design, based on notes and ideas from the art director. I use only ink for this first section, and don’t fuss with any shadows or rendering. The main thing is a clean idea of my design.

Step 2 : After establishing this clean design, I transfer my drawing down onto a new sheet of paper (above). I use a Huion light pad for the transfer and I don’t waste much time. (I hate spending any more time transferring than I absolutely have to.) For the paper I use a smooth Bristol paper from Strathmore, one of my favorites.

Step 3 : After I transfer the drawing down, I no longer need to stress out about proportions and design, and can focus exclusively on shadows and details.  For these, I begin with a lighter pencil (a 2H from Kimberly’s in this case) with a plan to use a darker pencil later for those deep shadows. I try to stick to rendering one area at a time, finishing everything section by section. I try to reduce everything to either shadow or light as much as possible to begin with. Then add in half-tones after that.

Most of my centaur character is very organic, and so I can afford to use curves and natural lines to communicate the elements. For less organic elements, like the axe shaft, I use a straight-edge ruler. I am not trying to win the drawing style olympics here, and am happy to use a variety of tools to get clean lines that read correctly.

Step 4 : Next, draw the rest of the Centaur.

Okay, okay. Not so fast… Once I have most of my lines in place, I begin to re-evaluate the drawing to see what flourishes can be added, and what shadows we might take farther to better simulate depth and dimension. The last 10% is most important part for what takes good art and makes it great art. It isn’t enough to just draw the thing, you want to make your audiences see it in the way that you see it in your mind. So I spend some extra time at the end here to push the width of my lines and occlusions, and enhance the shadows where I can.

To help take the shadows and lines further, I now switch to a mechanical pencil with darker lead in it. This adds sharp clarity and definition to the details and designs. I also use an eraser stick to clean up my edges and sharpen any lighting details.

With that, we are finished! Scan it in and send it off to the client (and have another cup of coffee…)

For more of these, check out the twitch stream where I do these demos every week Wednesday 10AM EST.