the progress of a tea party

teaparty.jpgspacer.gifsince i was blogless last week i wasn’t able to show everyone my drawergeeks drawing from last week. the subject was alice in wonderland so i drew this little tea party.

i was trying something a bit different then what i normally do so i was making a lot of snapshots in photoshop as i went along. when i finished i realized i had a nice little collection of the progress i went though to paint this thing so i thought it would be fun to save ’em and post ’em here once i got the blog up and running again. it’s not really so much an informative lesson, just a simple picture by picture evolution of an illustration. hopefully it’ll be kind of interesting and a bit of a glimpse inside the inner workings of the mind of mike.

now, this is only how i went about this particular piece. my usual method(s) can be much different…

teaparty01.jpgspacer.gifi draw most of my stuff with a koh-i-noor rapidomatic® 0.5 pencil. i’ve used these things since college and i’m not sure i’d ever be able to go back to a normal pencil again. lately i’ve been using the blue lead a lot because of how soft it is plus it keeps me from erasing stuff. for this piece i had planned on inking it with ballpoint instead of a brush like i normally do. i used to do a lot with teaparty02.jpgspacer.gifballpoint but it’s been awhile so i scanned the penciled page beforehand in case i screwed up. after inked, i scan it into the computer and do what i call the “kazu approach” of blowing out my blue lines (i’m not sure he came up with this process but since i first read about it on his copper tutorial, that’s what it will forever be called in my head). i then use the levels, contrast, and curves to get my blacks the way i want and threshold teaparty03.jpgspacer.gifthe whole thing to do away with any halos while i’m coloring underneath. i’m pretty sure this is all common photoshop know-how that others have written much better before me so i’m just going to cruise through the rest of this.

teaparty04.jpgspacer.gifnext i’ve given the picture my base color. since i knew i was going to be painting my forest with some unnatural color choices (to give it that wonderland feel), i wanted to make sure green was still the underlying color to keep my wonderland foresty and not from looking too much like a rainbow. from there it’s of to adding some color which i’ve done here withteaparty05.jpgspacer.gif the brush tool. i’m more concerned with filling in shapes at this point then using the exact colors i want because i know i’m just going to go and add gradients and what not to everything later.

teaparty06.jpgspacer.gifafter i have all my color painted in, i can select individual sections to separate into different layers. this makes it easier for me when i want to add gradients or change certain hues. after i precede to do just that, i darken or lighten my foreground elements to give the ilustration some dimension. with so much going on in the drawing, my goal here is toteaparty07.jpgspacer.gif make sure the eye is lead to the tea party scene since that’s the focus of the piece. once that’s all done, it’s just a matter of adding some highlights with the paintbrush, some slight color tweaking and any shadows i might have forgotten. then wah-laa! a fteaparty08.jpgspacer.gifinished illustration.

so this was the super quick version of how i went about everything. i think the images give a better idea to my thought process then anything i could write. i also don’t think this is necessarily the easiest way to go about this, but it was fun trying something kind of different.


  1. J.Shamblin’s avatar

    Great illustration and wonderful tutorial, Mike. The colors are amazing.

  2. mike’s avatar

    thanks, jerry!

  3. Josh’s avatar

    Fun pic Mike! And thanks for the glimpse at the process! I love learning how other people work.

  4. allie’s avatar

    i’ve always wondered how you did that, COOL! u rock

  5. mike’s avatar

    thanks josh! thanks, allie! (okay, i’m starting to sound like a broken record)

  6. campy22’s avatar

    I really enjoyed this whole post.
    Your process is very interesting to me!


  7. mike’s avatar

    yet another thanks goes to campy!

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