WIP of Milly’s Refsheet

I wanted to draw my old character Milly again. Before doing that, I decided to update the refsheet of Milly and post it here. The refsheet is already finished but I want to upload the work in progress after all. The character Milly is a few years old today but I wanted to improve my skills first before I post some pictures of her.

Sketch 1 of Milly's refsheet

Milly’s refsheet sketch 1

I begin with a sketch. This one is a quick one. I cleaned the sketch so only the important lines are left. I sketched only basic shapes.

If you try to draw for your first time or after a pause, do not get frustrated if the sketch looks clumsy. I learned, sketches of bodies, hands, etc. are getting easier the more often I draw them. No surprise huh? So if you watch tutorials on Youtube or somewhere, the artist drew a lot of sketches already and what you see he/she is drawing was trained before. Of course a really good artist would not need to train his sketch before showing his technique on Youtube because he already had a lot of training. If I would record my sketching, I would definitely train the sketch before so I will not fail while recording.

Just draw your sketch fast. If it is not good, erase everything and start from the beginning. This trains every drawing step and not only the last one. Learned that in the training course I was in 2013. A few more hints I want to give:

  • Think in shapes while sketching
  • If you good at thinking in shapes, try thinking in 3D shapes. A head is not a circle anymore, it is a sphere.
  • If you have a few minutes spare, try drawing some legs or bodies and put them together sometime later. You got a complete sketch.
  • Search for references, have lots of them. Every artist in the world studies references and have many. Some of my parts of Canina are learned by watching my dog.

Sketch 2 of Milly's refsheet

Milly’s refsheet sketch 2

Now I just draw over the basic shapes with rough round lines (You should always use a new layer). This should not take much time. The more you try to be exact, the more you get frustrated if something goes not as desired. Btw. I forgot the ears.

Sketch 3 of Milly's refsheet

Milly’s refsheet sketch 3

Now I just draw over more soft round lines. Like raytracing a picture. Every mistake made so far can easily be corrected. I also added more and more details. For some this method seems stupid but it is the way it works for me. I did not invented this. In my drawing course, the teacher showed this way and was able to fully sketch a nearly perfect human body with head and a lot of details. Of course he is trained and worked hard to have this skills but we all had to try his way and many of us were surprised about the quality a sketch can have. And that all with just drawing 2 to 3 minutes basic shapes, 2 to 3 minutes drawing over round shapes and 2 to 3 minutes drawing over nice curves and extra details. At the end, I do need 10 minutes for the result. Sure a pro can do a lot more than the clumsy sketch on the left with 10 minutes. But I am not a pro and I am still learning. For me 10 minutes of sketching in 3 steps result in a much better sketch than with just 1 step. And to be honest, if I am looking over some sketching tutorials, many artist sketch in 2 steps. They just do it in an other way I learned to do it.

Sketch 4 of Milly's refsheet

Milly’s refsheet sketch 4

That is the final sketching step and the one in which we should put a little more precision. Normally I do not do this step because I color my pictures without a contour. But I would advice this for every beginner. Shapes and details are more visible. It is also easier to fill the parts with the ink bucket.If you want to have a picture without the border, then you should color everything in the colors you want and erase everything what should not be colored. Sounds simple and it is normally. It just consumes a lot of time. It is a lot faster with borders.

Sketch 5 of Milly's refsheet

Milly’s refsheet sketch 5

After cleaning the sketch or even better hiding every sketchlayer, I got my finished inked sketch. Now it is time to think about colors.

Refsheet of Milly colored 1

Milly’s refsheet coloring 1

Normally it is up to you which color you want to take. There are no rules. But it exists some dos and dont’ts in creating a resheet. For now I just stick with colors. I will come back for the others later. The most furry artists would say:”use decent colors.” Think about a furry who is covers with a lot of neon colors. Would it not hurt in the eyes? Of course some neon accents would look nice but they should not be the main colors. Also avoid a lot of tattoos or other markings. One or two could be nice but to many of them just distract and look awkward in my opinion (no offense).If you have your colors, begin to fill the areas. I store mine somewhere on a layer.

An advice: I usually take the magic wand tool and widen the selection one or more pixel depending on your border thickness. This assures, that the parts are colord exactly to the contour. If you do this not and you zoom in at the border, you probably see the color of the layer beneath it.

Attention: Small passages like the fingertips in the sketch must be filled by hand. Normally the wand tool does not select the area between two too nearly placed lines. This is because the wand tool only marks one color plus a tolerance. You could raise the tolerance but then the wand tool could mark the border as well. Just play with the settings and check what suits you.

Refsheet of Milly colored 2

Milly’s refsheet coloring 2

Last step is shading. For refsheets I would prefer a light shading or cell shading. Here is a good tutorial I tried someday. Cell shading is a simple form of putting in depth but not as simple to draw.The simplest thing you can do is to put a hue/saturation layer over your colored picture and link it. If you have your colored sketch and the background on one layer, you get problems with that. If you have your linked hue/saturation layer you just have to set the brightness to -50 and you can draw in some nice shading. Because of the link, you just apply shadow there, where linked layer has color.

With this method and a few more of these hue/saturation layers, you can achieve a really nice shading. But this would go to far for a refsheet in my eyes. I just quickly shaded my character.

Refsheet of Milly Finished

Milly’s refsheet finished

With everything finished, I now can think about the layout of the refsheet. I chose 1200x1200px.It exists no rules about what putting on a refsheet and how. Look at some other refsheets by other artists and you get a feeling about what someone would like to have on your refsheet. As I mentioned before, there are a few dos and don’ts for a refsheet. At first you should put every info on it which is necessary to draw your character as you like it. Colors of course and infos about body parts which are special but not visible. Better would be, to draw a quick example like I did with the tail.

You also should add some restrictions. If you do not want your character in a porn scene or whatever, you should clarify this. If not on the refsheet then somewhere in the description wherever you upload it. This is not a guarantee that your character stays away of such pictures but the most artists respect those restrictions.

You should not put too many infos on it. Leave some space for variations. Everyone who will draw you character puts his own style into. The character could get a bit taller, thinner, older etc. This is normal and wanted. If I look at refsheets of other artists, I am mostly interested in the colors and what makes the character special. I would keep the shapes but alter them. If an artists does not want it, I do not draw the character because I am jailed too much. Of course, if someone draws Milly with a horsehead instead of a cowhead I would congratulate him but it will not be Milly. If someone alters the ears instead to bend it upwards, I had no problem with that.

The characteristics for your character instead should not be to much altered by others but you must clarify them. In Milly’s case, these are the hands, the tail, the horns and her head of course.

I hope my short work in progress of Milly’s refsheet is somewhat informative. As you might notice, I did not put to much effort in creating the refsheet and this WIP. The most pictures I draw at the moment are for myself. If someone like my art, I appreciate it but if otherwise, I would like to know why. If he/she cannot explain him-/herself, I would not care about.

With this in mind, draw what and how you like but do not expect others to like it.

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