Blog: Secrets from the Chef

Tutorial: drawing a 3D character from a plain logo

Evgeniya RodinaAuthor: Evgeniya Rodina
7 December 2009

Turbomilkers dig Twitter and most of us are thrilled by their ability to share their deep thoughts though this web service. When we faced the need to share the twits with twitter users from other countries, we developed a convenient service that will be translating our twits from Russian into any other language (a whole selection of languages) and post them in Twitter automatically.

All our team was fighting over the name for the project: we’ve been trying to merge words ‘Twitter’ and “translate”, and finally we came up with a rather funny name — “Transvestitor”!

We took the blue bird as a basis for the logo similar to the one featured by the original service. The only difference would be the ‘zest’— this is going to be a he-bird: unshaved, heavily made up, in male underwear, with strap-on boobs (oops!) and in red shoes. The result can be seen here. )))

Now, let’s get down to the business: how do we draw a 3D character out of a plain logo?

I draw in Photoshop CS4. We open the application and make a quick sketch of the character with a brush. I want to picture our he-bird in a ¾ turning angle position. I have a longstanding habit of drawing characters facing left. It’s more convenient for me this way. But I will mirror the finished sketch to the right because it will look better this way.

This is how my sketch looks like on the second minute of drawing.

And this is the result of 20 minutes of sketching. I added hands to the he-bird and a glamorous bag.

The main details are already drawn, now we turn the picture as planned (mirror reflection) and add details: the bra and the bristle, draw a smile and reduce the head. Here is the finished sketch:

Now we color the he-bird.

I use the pen to create contours in curves for all objects then I assign a vector mask. I use the pipette to copy colors from the plain logo of Transvestitor and color the character respectively.

In the process of drawing the file gains a lot of layers. They are combined into small groups, which are then included into larger groups just like a Russian-doll. Every hotspot, shadow, reflex, etc. are contained in their own layers that make up hundreds of layers.

If you need to get a robust contour of an object, the best choice, in my opinion, is a vector mask. You can use multiple layers and draw shadows, hotspots, reflexes, patterns, textures, etc., but the object’s contour formed by the masks will remain flat and robust. This is a rather topical thing for 72dpi bitmaps. Example: selected mask on an object (at the final stage of drawing).

Compare it with the same layers but with the mask turned off.

Vector masks and multiple layers allow for, if necessary, easy (for bitmap graphics) introduction of changes into a drawing. You can transform objects by size and shape, turn layers and whole groups on and off.

Let’s go back to the character now. The result of painting the layers should appear like this:

Now let’s draw shades and light on the he-bird.

Our imaginary source of light is located in the upper left corner, so we will draw hotspots on the left side of the character, and shades — on the right.

For drawing the character’s own shades we take the brush with soft edges and for the cast shadows — with robust edge. If necessary, we retouch the edges of shadows or wipe them with the eraser.

I set multiply mode for layer transparency, which makes the shades look more realistic.

Now let’s add some light! We draw light the same way we drew the shades but using blanched colors or plain white. We set transparency to overlay or softlite. This is what we expect to get:

Now we add reflexes to the drawing. This is a glue-like compound that allows for uniting parts of the object. For instance, the light is shed on the plastic boob and is reflected from it onto the blue body of the he-bird. And vice versa — the blue hotspot is reflected onto the pink plastic. I.e. both objects are flashing on each other with reflected light.

And now we add “tasteful” details to the picture: small trinkets on the bra, bristle on the face and bushy eyebrows with a hint of shaving as well as some small spots on the glazed surfaces. )))

The drawing is almost finished but we decided to add a reflection. We used a mirrored copy of the right leg for its reflection, and we had to create a whole new reflection for the left leg matching the perspective. Then I made the reflection on the surface and corrected it with the eraser and added some smudges on the edges with the blur.
Our he-bird is ready now!

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I really love your wonderful work! Could you please tell me what color profiles you use and which displays? Would you recommend to work in sRGB or in Adobe RGB if you create something like this? Thaaaanks and Merry Christmas to Russia!! :-)

Reply Czerny, 24 December 2009

Evgeniya uses BenQ 241W and its calibrated by Spyder 3. Here at Turbomilk we prefer to switch off any color management in Adobe products.

Reply joukov, 28 December 2009

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