Toy Tech: Digital Sketch Student Demo (Part 2)

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Stage 2: Adding Tonal Shading & Textures, Pacific Rim, Warner Bros. Pictures, © 2014

The next stage was basically adding some tonal shading and texture. The shading is a combination of the CS6 airbrush tool and customized marker brush variants I use for all of my digital sketches.

I cropped the image to make a more interesting composition placing the face on focal point two using the rule of thirds. This already gives the piece a more interesting appeal which is so important in any presentation of toy designs from rough ideation to final presentation art.

Note that I added a couple layers of texture to give the background and metal finish some interesting weathered details. I usually make my own textures by taking photos of concrete, walls, metal, etc. and then making alpha channels in Photoshop or layer masks to apply them to the image.

Remember, it’s important to layer everything in your document so you can adjust the art throughout the entire process. What looks like perfection at this stage may look woefully wrong once color is added during the next progressive stages of rendering.

All of this gets us in the ballpark keeping in mind that the Photoshop levels will need to be adjusted for more contrast later on. Ideation sketches are not meant to be fine art masterpieces, in my humble opinion, they need to show clearly articulated outlines so engineers and other people along the production pipeline can figure out details. 

So, practice restraint when adjusting level and contrast controls in CS6 so you don't go too dark and lose those important details. I know first hand how hard it is to control yourself because the image looks more dynamic as you crank up the level settings but that comes at a cost to detail.

Remember what this sketch is really all about—creating a well organized and clearly detailed image of a specific toy concept. That objective must guide all of our visual design choices so we can clearly articulate and strategically manage the building of this design throughout the production process.

Continued In Part 3 . . .

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