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Learn to paint mecha girls

By Clonerh Kimura
Web: Open Site
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Date Added: 2nd January 2015
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Clonerh Kimura shares the techniques he used for creating his image Anna. As Clonerh takes you through his character designing process he reveals tips and tricks for adding definition, color and lighting effects!


I'm glad to be writing this making of, mainly because this is the last piece that I worked on and it's also one of my favorites – up until now at least. I think that it's a normal feeling though, since it's part of the learning process that every new piece is better than the last, technically speaking.

I have to say this is one of the pieces that has taken me the longest to do. I started this illustration at the end of 2013 and I finished it just a few weeks ago, and not because it was too complicated but because I didn't have the motivation nor inspiration to finish it. I've been having a creative block for more than a year, and since then every new image has been a torture to finish. Little by little I've been recovering the inspiration and the urge to create a lot of new stuff, and this piece is evidence of that.

In this making of article I will be explaining the general process that I followed to make this piece. The real process is too long, and although I would like to make a tutorial with really detailed steps, it would take up a lot of paper and would probably be too boring to read. So I hope many of you will find this project overview useful and maybe you can find a little inspiration in it.

The idea

The idea for this illustration was to make it as simple as possible. I have gotten accustomed to filling each scene with a lot of elements, especially the characters, but I wanted something different with this character. I wanted a character that felt light despite having those huge mechanical arms. As a matter of fact for the clothes, I wanted the plainest outfit that I could find.

That's how I started this piece, with a simple idea, but to be honest with you I don't usually keep my original idea, I end up with something completely different. In this case though, I had a clear idea and I made an effort to keep it that way.

Something important that has helped me a lot during the process of my illustration is that I look for references for almost everything I do. That was the initial step. I collected a lot of pictures and I took some of the elements that would work for my piece from each one. I'm not a good line artist so in my case references are very useful.

It was then time to define the pose. This is one of the easiest and most creative parts in the process – that's why it is one of the most important. Normally, I try to make as many gestures as possible until I find the one I like the most. In this case it wasn't that hard since I had a very clear idea in mind, so I just did one simple and fast drawing. And if for any reason the position of the arms or legs weren't to the best of my liking, I could make a change later – that's why I didn't worry too much at that point.

The initial line sketch to capture and define the pose

Adding definition

The advantage of working digitally is that you can modify many things without losing a great deal of time, but in any case it is better to have a clear idea from the beginning.

Before going forward, I worked a little more on the clothes and head without adding too many details because I define a lot of those things later on in the process.

"You need to think about the final result that you want to achieve and what the purpose of your piece is, before considering the level of detail you want to include”

Working on the clothes and head to get a clearer idea of the character

Light and shadow

The next step is where I take the most time, and it is where I put everything that I know about lighting into effect. A quick piece of advice for anyone who wants to work as an illustrator or concept artist is to at least learn the fundamentals of lighting. Trust me, the time you invest learning it will be worth it.

The process of adding lights and shadows is something that I did totally in grayscale, partially to save time but principally because it's easier to notice how much volume and depth you are giving your character.

Defining the lighting on the character in grayscale

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