ByJake Kontou, writer at Creators.co
Concept Artist
Jake Kontou

Hi! I just finished working on my new piece, featuring The Dark Knight himself, based on Rocksteady's stellar Batman Arkham series. Below is a look into my process and how the piece was constructed. Hope it helps and provides some useful insight.

Finished Piece. After photoshop.
Finished Piece. After photoshop.

Step 1: Traditional Sketch

My first step with creating this piece was to sketch out Batman on a large enough canvas. My line work is fluid and detailed, proving just enough information to inform me on where shadows and highlights are, as well as attaining accurate proportions. I mainly use a 0.5mm Mechanical pencil to achieve crisp thin lines.

1.5hrs
1.5hrs

Once the line work provides enough detail. I move on to shading, working the pencil in a circular motion. I like making my shadows jet black, allowing sections of white highlights to stand out that much more. Shading is tedious and slow, but its important to take your time and slowly chip away and the piece.

3hrs
3hrs
4hrs
4hrs

For sections that appear fairly smooth, such as his armour or parts of his skin, I tend to lighten up the shading by smudging my marks outwards. A simple trick to this is to grab a piece of tissue, tear off a small section, scrunch it up into a small ball, and smudge the shading in a circular motion. To tidy it once complete use a eraser on the epicentre of the highlight creating a smooth finish.

6hrs
6hrs

For small details, such as the armour on his neck, its easier to use an eraser and rub off the shading. This is quicker and provides a more natural look when compared to shading small sections that are highlighted using the pencil.

8hrs
8hrs

After 8hrs the final sketch is complete. I used water colour and added black spatter around the piece as a finishing touch. From here the piece is scanned and the editing begins.

Step 2: Scanning

Scanning a traditional sketch with the vast amount of tones my piece obtains was pretty frustrating. My home printer/scanner only hosts A4 scanning, so I decided to test Staples store scanning. The result was pretty horrendous with sizing was way to small for me to produce prints.

Unsuccessful scan.
Unsuccessful scan.

As a result I decided to use my home scanner and scan the sketch in sections then edit them together in photoshop. With my scanner options, I tend to set the DPI between 300-600, and have it scan in colour (will be made greyscale in Photoshop). This ensures the scan captures all the tones and detail.

Final scan
Final scan

Step 3: Photoshop

After the scan is in photoshop, I make the sketch greyscale and tweek the levels (image - Adjustments - Levels), ensuring the tones are close enough to the original sketch.

Using the gradient tool on a new layer I created the rising shade of black, blending the figure into the piece. Then using the brush tool I even out the gradient specifically around the figure. I tend to use a smooth smudging brush, with low opacity and a high brush size, just for blocking out the shadows around batman.

Now to tidy up the scan, I used the brush tool to smoothen out the marks left from the scan, switching between black and white brush colours to work on deep shadows and highlights. Its almost like repainting the entire piece. I would recommend investing in a graphics tablet (specifically Wacom) if you haven't already as its quicker and provides overall higher fidelity in your digital work.

I continued the process throughout the piece cleaning up marks, focusing on the shadows and accentuating the highlights. The result looks like the following.

An added effect I wanted to test with this piece was to colour dodge.... ROSSSS TRANNNN!!!!!.

I went with a subtle bronze tone adding a warmness to the piece, proving contrast to the dark nature of Batman. Creating a new layer, with low opacity and a smooth large brush. I highlighted the corners of his armour producing the following look.

FINISHED!

After many hours the piece is complete.

I hope this little walkthrough of my process provided enough insight. Thanks for taking the time to view my work.

If you like the piece, please support and take a look at my etsy store where the Batman print is available.

Click here to view my shop and purchase prints.

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