Recently, Paperdoll Review published its Spooky issue (you can order a copy here) and I knew exactly what I wanted to tackle - Morticia Addams! Is there any ghoul more glamorous than Tish?! I think not!!
I've always been mildly obsessed with the Addams Family. As a kid, I watched reruns of the old TV show after school. Then in 1991, there was The Addams Family movie. To say I love this movie is an understatement. I have seen it over a hundred times. At one point, I had ALL of the dialog memorized. I had magazines devoted to the making of the film, complete with costume close-ups. I lived for this movie. I still watch it at least once a year. And I lovingly sketched the characters as an utterly devoted 12 year old...
Just look at that ambitious hand lettering! Some of the detail is lost - the pencil is very shiny and some of it has rubbed off. But still, I was very proud of that drawing for a long time. So I took another crack at it, 30 years later!
For Paperdoll Review, I knew there were a few problems I needed to solve. It was difficult to find reference images so these are my own interpretations of the movie costumes.
First, I wanted it to be a vertical format so I knew my canvas would be at least letter sized (8.5 x 11 inches) at 300dpi. I never work at less than 300dpi. Second, I needed to make this work as a paper doll. The bottom of the dress takes up a bit of space so I didn't want to redraw that & take up a ton of area on the page. So I settled on three interchangeable tops. I especially liked that idea because then I could do expressive things with her hands. Third, I need to tackle the color problem - black. SO MUCH BLACK. I decided on throwing in purples to break it up. And finally, composition. How can I arrange this on the page and make it interesting? Initially I thought about creating a conservatory/glass background but that felt really busy. I also thought about a grey background but that felt too monochrome. I found a spiderweb frame in Adobe Stock's free collection and played around with black or white in Illustrator. I settled on white with a gradient of purple (from the costumes) and a bit of pink (from the lipstick color).
Once I figured out my parameters, I started sketching. I like sketching on paper instead of a device. I can work out solutions faster and looser on paper. Then, I take a quick picture of it and tinker in Photoshop. I like to create my document size, margins, and edit my sketch before taking it into Procreate. You could just as easily take a picture with the iPad and skip all of that just make sure that you import your photo into a 300dpi file! It's no fun finding out that you rendered everything at 72dpi. Trust me!!
In Photoshop, I combined the arm and hand sketches from the first sketch with the dress from the second sketch. This could just as easily be done traditionally with tracing paper or a light table. I'm a big fan of using what you have - I have Photoshop, so that's what I use. Once I'm happy with the sketch, I take it into Procreate. The purple lines on the image above are my sketch lines in Procreate. I draw on paper, arrange, and then draw a second sketch digitally.
After the secondary sketch is good, I line it in pure black. I really like the technical pen in Procreate (it's a default brush) for outlining. I don't always use it but I do most of the time. I make sure my lines are fully closed. Gaps can cause headaches later.
Here are the lines, with the blending mode set to Soft Light, on a grey background. Why do it this way? Well, I like the look of color lines (like Tom Tierney or Marilyn Henry or Brenda Sneathen Mattox). I have found that clean, black lines set to Soft Light will give me the colors that I want. The line layer has to be the top layer and everything is colored underneath it. And I'm not a fan of working on white so most of the time, I work on a grey tone.
Next, I color in stages, on layers. I blocked in the black of the dress - which is NOT pure black! It's a medium-dark grey because I needed value range for the shadows and highlights. Once I blocked in the color, I set the layer to alpha lock and shaded. Using this setting allows me to color JUST the black and not worry about stray marks or coloring outside of my lines.
I repeat those steps for the skin, details, and hair. It's how I render everything, actually. I used to put EVERY SINGLE COLOR on a separate layer but Procreate limits the amount of layers available according to file size (so a 600dpi file has fewer layers, etc). I've had to get a lot better about layer management!
I'm also a big fan of groups. The layers of the base doll go in a group folder. Each outfit goes in a group folder. The one thing I miss in Procreate as compared to Photoshop or other programs is that I can't change the opacity of a group. I'll often make a copy of my base doll lineart and use that to draw all of the clothing.
After rendering everything in Procreate, I add tabs, border, and finish the layout in Photoshop.
Once I settled on the purple & pink gradient, all I could think of was Addams Family Values:
I've added the time-lapse video here. It's about 10 minutes covering my 9+ hours of drawing. You can see where I use reference images and how I'm solving problems on the fly! Let me know what you think of Morticia!