Behind the Scenes: "Building" a Snowman (a work in progress)

As I often do, I tried to cram one too many designs on my "to do" list for my 2010 holiday designs. I was done and then decided to do "just one more". I was mostly done with it when I lost my head of steam. When this happens with a seasonal piece, I put it aside until the next year rolls around--which is what will happen with this snowman sketch.

Poor little snowman... it isn't his fault.

Then I decided he would be a good behind-the-scenes subject for a blog post. So Mr. Snowman does get to have some fun this year after all!

BTS Post Photo 1

Above is the rough scan of the pencil sketch of Mr. Snowman. I do all my preliminary sketching by hand in one of my various sketchbooks (one for small sketches, one for large sketches and one for on-the-road sketching).

BTS Post Photo 2

After I've scanned in the pencil sketch, I bring it into Photoshop CS3 and perform clean-up with the help of my Wacom Cintiq digital tablet. I do this because I want all the specks and flecks that are picked by the scanner up from the white paper to not transfer when I print out the outline sketch onto watercolor paper.

Next I print out the snow man on a piece of 12x17 watercolor paper using my Canon Pro9000 ink jet printer. I choose this size because that's the largest I can scan once the painting is done. Even if the original sketch isn't that large, I enlarge it to fill the paper.

Then I secure the watercolor paper that has the printed outline on it to my painting board, I break out the watercolors, and I begin painting.

BTS Post Photo 3

Oftentimes, I will scan the painting after completing one stage (in this case the black hat and coal buttons). This is a good practice for me just in case I do something I don't like later in the painting process. If I do, I can always reprint the outline and repaint the elements I didn't like and then digitally marry them with the elements I did like from previous scans.

BTS Post Photo 4

There is a quality of painting that I can only get with watercolor and haven't been able to replicate digitally. I paint the shapes and elements that I want to have that quality. In this case, I wanted a certain look to the shading as well as a certain brushstroke for each piece of the fringe of his scarf. At that stage, I scanned the painting again and brought it back into Photoshop CS3.

After some clean-up using the Wacom Cintiq again, I decided to apply one of my photo textures to Mr. Snowman to make him look more like he was made of snow (see the texture below).

Click on texture above to download for free

I also added some additional shading and highlights over the top of the snow to get this...

BTS Post Photo 5

Although Mr. Snowman may look like he's done, he really has a way to go. I have to paint the additional elements like the holly berries for his hat and the patterns for the gifts he's carrying. Those will get painted separately and added digitally. Mr. Snowman is also going to need a snazzy background so he isn't floating in white space. And I'll have to design the layouts specifically for each thing he goes on. A 5x7 card layout is much different than an iPhone case and that's different from an e-card/e-vite (the list can go on and on). I may even offer him with different colored scarves and mittens... I don't know. All that work will happen when I begin putting together my 2011 holiday designs.

Mr. Snowman will wait until then. Luckily, he won't melt.
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  1. You know I always love these *in-the-makings* posts! It reminds me of the old Walt Disney Show that aired on Sunday nights when they would show this sort of thing.
    Love you lots.

  2. Amazing! He is pretty much adorable :) I have no patience with all the editing that goes into your artwork...probably why I don't do it myself :)

  3. What a darling Snowman! You are so talented Cindy!

    Deanna :D

  4. Oh Cindy you are so so talented. Thank you for nice tutorial, the end result looks easy, but I had no idea that so much work can go into something like that.

    Cindy another year passed, and here I am again. Wishing you and your family happy holiday season, healthy, wealthy and filled with love and peace.

    Enjoy, and stay well.

    Anna :)

  5. Aloha lovely!
    Your blog is quite applaudable!
    Here's cheers to you this festive season!
    Keep up the brilliant posts!
    AND Merry Christmas x x

  6. Hi Cindy,

    So happy your friend led you to me and now I am visiting with you.

    Lovely blog and when the holidays are over I promise to dig and delve through it.

    All joys to you and yours (and your snowman too),

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island


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