I thought I’d write a quick post about how I design and create characters on my iPad.

The Tools

I use a Bamboo Stylus from Wacom. The tip is a bit shallow and takes a few sessions before you stop tapping the ring on the tablet, but the texture of the tip keeps its sensitivity the longest and it has a very nice weight.

I also use two programs heavily: SketchBook and Inkpad. These programs get me almost all the way to production and I’ve been using them very heavily for almost a year now.

 The Process

And as I’m really trying to keep this short I will cover my process just a bit.

I start with a sketch, either in the iPad or on paper. This time around I happened to have my sketchbook with me, so this one is paper. I then “scan” in that sketch by taking a photo of it with my iPhone. The iPad camera works in a pinch, but it’s still a bit low-res and doesn’t like poor light.

It is worth noting that my 3d and sculpting background still take over at this stage. I keep quite a few layers around of each “part” of a character — even when it would be simpler to just merge things together. But my mind still thinks in parts.

I work from the back — that really helps focus the work. What is the back-most part of this image? You will see that in the second image here. Then I work my way forward. Also, I create a layer on the top of the scene with the sketch in it and reduce the opacity to somewhere around 20%, then I lock that layer. So I basically draw under the sketch the whole time.

It’s also worth noting that there is a stage in the middle of this whole process that I want to throw my iPad away. That’s the “basic shape” step. I believe it’s the 6th image in the sequence. It’s when I have all the shapes covered and I usually hide the sketch and begin adding personality bits. I’ll tell you this step scares me every time. I look at my art and think how sad and simple it is. I have a real challenge almost every time pressing on through this step. I really have to talk myself into not giving up. More than one character has died a quiet death at this stage.

In any case, I’ll stop blathering on now and let you see the step-by-step. Click into the first image then just flip through them. Ah, and the last screen is the odd “sketchbook” I have at this point working on this new title.