Bob Nolan shares on CGArena how he tackles these stunning digital illustrations. Below is an extract of the step-by-step article.
Though I painted the bald eagle portrait, “Sentinel”, using a Wacom digital tablet, the method I use comes directly from my many years as a traditional watercolor painter. In the traditional method, I would trace a photograph, using a lightbox or a projector, and then transfer the drawing to watercolor paper. This is a long and tedious process, but I can’t paint without a complete line drawing. I never liked doing the drawing part. I just wanted to get painting!
So when I began to paint digitally, I was thrilled to find a way to create the line art in just a few minutes, rather than days. The line art can be made visible or invisible, at will. It can be faded out as the painting progresses, and then deleted at the end.
In this walkthrough, I’ll show you my technique for creating a quick and accurate line drawing using Photoshop (CS3 or later). If you have an earlier version, there’s a work around. If you prefer to create the line art manually, by all means do so, and just skip ahead to the next section, where I will show how I applied a transparent watercolor technique to digital painting.
The source photograph of the eagle simplified as a pencil line drawing in Photoshop
Blocking in the colours in the early stages
The finished digital painting