My sister and her family live in Saudi Arabia and for their Christmas present I decided to do a cartoon drawing of them. Here is a brief breakdown of my process. I started off with a very rough outline just like I do with every drawing. This rough is more for the purpose of blocking out the composition than actually working out details like facial features, etc.
From this rough I build up the final line art. For me this is the most important step. This is where all the major decisions are finalized and if the art has any noticable shortcomings they will be most evident here. Though color is important I feel that, for this style at least, the piece should be able to stand or fall on the strength of the line art.
Next up is adding color. Coloring is a multi-step process and the first step is called flatting. This involves simply laying out the correct colors and making sure they are all in the right place. No color details like gradients just yet (with the exception of my Brother-In-Law’s farmer’s tan). I usually import reference photos as I work and this project is no different. Color acts different in different lighting conditions. I wanted to be sure that the color matched the reality of the sunny Saudi desert. Their black lab was a bit of challange because if I stuck with reality he would just look like a black blob here. I looked for what others had done to make dark animals show up and ended up cribbing the color scheme of Bagheera from The Jungle Book. If you are going to steal steal from the best.
The next step of the coloring process is adding highlights and shading. This is probably the quickest part but brings a lot of depth and life to the piece.
Finally I throw in a little vingette of sand and sky background to tie it all together and I am done! I was worried that adding dunes in the back would muddle the whole thing with too much detail. Thankfully, after looking at the photos, I saw that there was hardly any detail to found. It was just two wavy colors. Easy.
And that’s it!