One of my digital animal paintings, step by step

I first like to start with a textured, toned background.

I then rough in the layout. This is where I resize and move things around to get the composition right.

I then lighten that level, and create a new level to start the more refined rendering.

Once the drawing is done I roughly start laying in local color. I set this level on multiply so that I can retain the texture underneath.

At this point I create a new layer and begin to find my darks and lights. I also pay particular attention to color temperature at this point. In a dominantly warm or cool piece hitting just the right amount of opposite temperature can really make a piece sing.

At this point I’m going in between light, dark, warm and cool. Cool doesn’t necessarily mean colors in the blue, violet and green range. I’m really playing with varying temperatures of the earthy ocher colors of the lion’s coat.

At this point I start to add the details of the background. This is where the texture that I started with really comes in handy. I really let it do a lot of the work. It surprising how little detail you really have to create in order to convince the viewer they are looking at a field of grass.

I continue adding the details to the background. I make sure to pay attention to color temperature just as in the lion. Also adding small indications of detail such as the little white flowers or the dried orange leaves really get the whole thing to sing. It’s important not to overdo this. A little will get you a lot.

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About Aaron Blaise

For 21 years Aaron worked with Disney helping to create some of the greatest animated films ever made. During that time he worked as an animator or supervising animator on "The Rescuers Down Under", "Beauty and the Beast", "Aladdin", "The Lion King", "Pocahontas", "Mulan" and more. In 2003 he was co-director of "Brother Bear" for which he earned an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature Film. After "Brother Bear" he helped to develop several projects but ultimately left Disney to pursue an opportunity back home in Florida. Aaron recently served as 2D Animation Supervisor and Character Designer for the "The Bear and the Hare" an advertisement loved by millions around the world. He is currently also working on a new animated short film, once again involving bears called "Snow Bear".

3 thoughts on “One of my digital animal paintings, step by step

  1. ok, that is totally cool to see the process

  2. Aaron saw you on photoshop TV, loved it! As always you’ve inspired me, I like your process and want to try using more textures in my photoshop paintings. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Bill!! It was so nice to see your comment here. It means a lot to me. Hope you and your family are doing well. Would love to get together some time.

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