The Panty Explosion Cover

July 15, 2006

As promised, here’s a description of the process that went ino the Panty Explosion cover.

Step 1: The line drawing I used to work on a comic called “20 People are about to Die” where I used a very similar approach to the line drawing. The idea is to leave out all the extraneous lines, focus on the heavy blacks and only draw what you think you would actually see. On the comic all of my characters were based on actual people (myself, Travis Brown, Matt Schlotte and others) and I found I could get a remarkable likeness through this process. Here’s an illustration of myself from the comic, re-purposed as my portrait over at ERS

Jake Jake (I don’t actually have yellow eyes).

Anyway, I don’t often use the process, mostly because I don’t like drawing actual people. But I decided to revisit the style for PE, and I’m fairly happy with how it turned out. As you can see the line art for this drawing is amazingly simple, with minimal attention given to detail and stylized hair. This may be misleading because my blue pencil drawing that I inked over was horribly complex and messy. it took several tries to get the shape of the fave, the placement of the eyes and the line of the hair right. I gave up on the lips and opted instead for a simpler suggestion of the mouth.

I should mention that even before I started the drawing I knew \exactly what I had wanted it to look like. Back around the time Matt and I had started talking about the game I had seen a clip from a Korean music video where a young student was walking through the rain. She looked soaked, miserable and unsettling, and I thought that was a strong image for this game. At the line art stage I decided not to add in the background, rain o drops of moisture on her skin. I’d wait for later with that. her’s what the line art looked like after i filled in the initial colors.

Step 1

Step 2: color: I scanned the line art into Photoshop and started the coloring process. As you can see above I selected just 4 simple colors to act as the base of the illustration. Even though I wanted the uniform to be white I decided to color it a light blue because the girl was standing in the rain at night. Similarly, the kerchief received a very dark shade of red. I went back and forth on the skin tone forever. I had compiled an impressive number of photos of wet looking miserable people (thank god for hurricane Katrina), but it took me forever to find a skin tone that looked right, and I had several false starts. On about the fifth try I convinced myself that the skin tone needed to benefit from the same darker shade I had given the uniform. As soon as I applied the color it just clicked. I was a kind of sickly greenish brown that was just perfect for wat i was doing.

Now that my colors were assigned I had to move onto the daunting task of actually drawing the characters face. I’ve never done color work on this style of illustration before. I knew I wanted this piece to have a more realistic look then, say, the Six-Gun Assassins cover I did a few months ago (you can see that below), but I wasn’t really sure how to accomplish that. In the sketch stage I had rendered the characters face in as much detail as possible, so I referenced that for the color stage. I decided I would use a combination of different paint brushes as well as the burn and dodge tool to build up her facial structure. This took several tries and I wasn’t happy with many of the results. I started over a few times but after awhile I decided to just paint over my mistakes. This started to give her face a texture that I really liked, and I built this up for awhile. I also used a custom brush to add in some other texture and give her face a rougher look. at first I thought this was too rough, but after going over the face with a 30% opaque paintbrush I achieved the look I wanted for the skin.

The eyes were a bit of a challenge. I decided right of the bat to change the whites of the eye to a darker grayish-green to match the color tones of the rest of the illustration. But the eyes still looked dead to me. I thought about adding some tears but decided that wasn’t quite what I wanted for the illustration. I instead opted to give the character swollen, reddish eyes that would make her look like maybe she had been crying. The results were a little more then I had wanted, but once I toned them down they looked quite good and really lent to the miserable and spooky look that I had hoped to cultivate. At this stage I had also colored the neck but hadn’t gotten around to the arms. I also hadn’t decided what to do with her mouth. You can see the results below.

Step 2

Step 3: More color: I had most of the face where I wanted it, but the fucking mouth was vexing me. I wanted to avoid over doing the lips because I was afraid the character would look silly, or worse, attractive. The girl was supposed to be miserable and unsettling, and while she is an attractive girl, I didn’t want her to look sexy. While I debated over the lips I went ahead and colored the uniform and arms. This was cake compared to the face. Shading the uniform in the same way I did the face gave it a nice texture that to me implied damp cloth. I spent a little time picking out some deeper shadows on the uniforms right side and lightening the rights side just a bit.

I had avoided the lips for long enough and decided to jump right back in. I got it on the first try. I used a fainter version of the same red I had used on the kerchief to give the lips their color and shape. After that I spent awhile shading them with the burn and dodge tools and the paint brush. The results were pretty good, although I ended up going back a little later and toning down the lip color even more and using the paint brush to add some moisture to the top of the upper lip and the left side of the lower. Here’s the illustration as it looked at this point.

Step 3

Step 4: everything else: I cheated on the background, using a daytime photo of an Idaho middle-school. II used photoshop to grey-scale the photo, and increased its contrast till all I was left with was the black, shadowy parts of the building. I filed in this shadowy suggestion of a school with dark blue, and then shaded it till it was nearly black. I used the paint brush tool to draw a moon and some dark clouds peeking over the building and the rain as well.

Once I finished the background I pasted it to a separate file (and promptly accidentally deleted the original) and pasted the girl on top of it. Now came the important part. i carefully added drops of moisture to the girls hair using the paint brush. i over did it a bit and ended up erasing about half of them. I then added the moisture to the lips as mentioned before. I did the same to several other parts of the face, and also added a drop of water to the chin and a trickle of water running down the characters neck. Using a 93% opaque brush I added a little bit of pale green to the right side of her chin and jaw and a few other places on her face. I stopped for dinner (at 4am) and when I cam back I realized I was already finished. You can see the finished illustration below.

Step 4
Overall I’m very pleased with how the image turned out. I think it does a good job of capyuring the feel of the game. Here’s a look at the image complete with text, used for the promotional postcard that we’ll be handing out.

card

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One Response to “The Panty Explosion Cover”

  1. Tony Irwin Says:

    Awesome

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