2 min read

Joseph & Donkey, step by step

Here’s a look at how I do illustration work.

This is from ‘The Donkey Speaks’ by Dave Wilkins. It’s actually the only thing I’ve ever illustrated for someone else, and only the second thing I’ve really taken seriously, step by step, all the way through.

This is the second step of the process, sketching the idea.

The first step is to sit and drink orange juice and let images swim around and play in my head until a setup I like comes into view.

I usually sketch out a scene (in Photoshop Elements with my Wacom Intuos4 tablet), then lighten that sketch and draw a second over top of it. I’ll probably do that a few times before I feel like I’m ready to lay down the final line drawing.

I take a little more time with the actual drawing in step 3, making sure to get steady, flowing lines as much as I can.

I’ve been trying hard to fight my tendencies toward perfectionism, so when my lines get a little sloppy or loose, I try to just leave them alone. Sometimes, like with this particular drawing, I’ll go back over, for example, Donkey’s legs, over and over and over until I just say to myself, ‘Enough! It’s good enough!’

Not out loud or anything.

There’s a lot to be said for good enough.

And step 4, colors.

For this I just do all the coloring in one layer, pretty quickly, trying hard not to fix mistakes and gaps as I go.

If I’ve already colored something on a previous page, I go back to that page and grab the same color to try to keep things consistent. So for this one, I got Joe’s skin and hair and Don’s grays and whites from previous drawings.

Steps 5 and 6, shadows and highlights, give the whole thing more depth and life.

The important thing is to figure out first where the lights in the scene would be coming from. I decided here that Joe and Don would be walking towards the sun, so shadows towards the right and bottom, and highlights toward the top and left.

Finally, I add some background color just for the thrill of it. I might go back and change the background here later on. I also might try to give Joe some more color, maybe something green but I need to find out more about how people dressed in ancient Israel.

And there you have it. Page 12, ‘Joseph and Donkey’.