Here is a behind the scenes look at my art process I use to complete illustrations of this style. I always start with a pencil doing actual sketching in a sketchbook. This allows me to get that “fresh” smooth fluid look that can sometimes be restricted when you use only digital tools. That’s why I always tell young kids starting out as artists to learn how to draw with a pencil and ink before you explore computer digital apps.
After the sketches are approved, I move on to the ink outline with Manga Studio (I use version 5). When people think Manga Studio, they think it’s only for “Manga” style art, but that’s a misconception—it’s for ALL types of digital inking. The tools are very diverse and you have many controls and line styles, that’s why I like it.
After the inking is done, I switch gears to Photoshop to do the final color. Sometimes I like to use a combination of traditional coloring and digital, but with books, I stick with digital because it’s easier and quicker to make changes. The brushes I use most of the time are created by Kyle Webster, an illustrator who started creating his own Photoshop brushes because he felt the tools you get with Photoshop were so limited. They truly are the best I’ve ever used, and really get the job done. Not to mention they’re very affordable. With the illustrations for KIT KAT, I made the backgrounds separate from the characters, because the backgrounds weren’t especially detailed and didn’t have much to do with the story. Essentially it was set up like an animated cartoon from the 70’s and 80’s, where the backgrounds were static and the painted characters moved in front of them. This gave me the freedom to move the characters around to create the best composition. Also, if we had to do a major change with the characters such as eliminate one or change their positions. This would be a nightmare if the background was integrated with the characters. It gave me a lot of freedom.