Dr Chen's Office Process


    Here's a quick Process Tutorial to show my workflow when creating an Inked Greyscale Environment Illustration. The tools I use are Sketchup, Photoshop, a Printer and Scanner, a light box, printer paper, a drafting pencil, and a variety of pens. 


1 - Thumbnails and Brainstorms

    The concept behind this illustration is to create an office for a Professor who is an expert in Ancient Egyptian Artifacts. This is very exciting stuff since I love Egyptian Mythology!

    I begin by creating a top view of the room to figure out the layout with the placement of the camera. From there I create a rough sketch of the illustration from the camera's view. I also write down some ideas for the room along with various ideas on things to research.


2 - Sketchup Layout

    Once I nail down a good idea for the thumbnail and room layout I jump into Sketchup to create a simple 3D layout. Since I know I am hand drawing everything, and just using the 3D as a guide, the geometry can be super simple. When the basic geometry for the room is created I can move the camera around to find the framing I like for the illustration. 

    Sketchup has some basic lighting features that I can tweak to get a rough lighting scheme I like. This helps a bit to get an initial idea for cast shadows.  


3 - Notes Overlay

    Next I take the Sketchup render into Photoshop to add some rough sketches and notes to the scene until I'm happy with the overall layout and placement of everything. 


4 - 3D + Reference Printout

    I then place some photo reference around the page with any key elements that will be easier to draw up with a visual close at hand. Having a photo of a King Tut Bust is much easier to draw from reference than my brain, and I want to make sure it looks right in the end! 


5 - Pencils

I use an ArtoGraph LightPad A930. I love it because it has a super slim profile, and is large enough to hold a standard sheet of Paper with some room on the side to rest my hand while drawing.

    Now I print out the 3D layout with the reference, slap it on my trusty light box, and draw over the 3D Model and Rough Sketches. 

    Sometimes I will create multiple versions of an element to find a look I'm happy with. For this shot it was the curled up rug corner. 


6 - Pencils Overlay 3D

    Once I'm happy with the pencils I scan them into the computer, and overlay them over the 3D model base. I will need to do some erasing and masking of the 3D model so only the pencils are left over in certain areas.

    At this point I found a neat Ankh Graphic and border patterning that would work for the rug. I place it in the scene, and distort the perspective to match the perspective of the rug placeholder. Doing this assures that the perspective of the Ankh and rug patterning match that of the room.


7 - Inks

    The next step is to print out this Pencil Overlay and create a few separate ink pages on the light box. I create a page for the floor, one for the desk, and one for the back wall and rug. I do this so it is easier to overlay and separate the various elements of the scene when adding the values later on. I also add little marks to the 4 corners on each of the Inked Pages for easy realignment in Photoshop.

    I use a mix of Micron, Staedler Pigment Liner, and Copic Multiliner Pens with Line Widths ranging from .05 on up to .7 depending where the object is placed in space, the weight of the object, and the importance of the object.


8 - Inks Compile

    Once the inking is complete I scan each page and overlay them into separate layers in Photoshop using the Multiply Layer Type. I also create either opaque white shapes or clipping masks to hide elements in the background, or unwanted lines that are hidden behind or under other objects. An example would be the Framed Papyrus Artwork behind the Computer Monitor and Chair.  


9 - Value Block In

    For the initial Value Block In I use a 5 value scale for the Local Values with an additional 4 Values that represent Secondary Values. These Secondary Values are linked to the 4 Lighter Values of the 5 Value Scale. The 5th Value is black so you can't really get any darker than that!

    ( For example: The desk started as a #3 Value. The front of the desk is in indirect light making that face of the desk darker. So to keep the Value structure linked I painted it with the slightly darker value... lets call that one a #3.5 Value. If I would have painted it with a #4 Value then the Value Separation would be too great causing a slight disconnect between the two faces of the desk. )

    I'll keep the wall and floor fairly light values to help make the wall and desk objects of darker value pop! These objects are of importance to the scene so I need to make sure they stand out a bit.


10 - Render Values

    I continue adding in basic lighting and shading based off of the Value Scale to add dimension and form to the objects in the scene. It may be as simple as adding cast shadows on the desk, or more complicated like rendering the chair or one of the busts.  


11 - Extra Lighting and Final Touches

    The Final step is to add in some of the final lighting effects, highlights, and any other cast shadows to the scene.


    I hope this Process Tutorial is helpful! Leave me a comment if you like it, or if there could be ways of improving upon it!