• Jme Foronda

Process Walkthrough: Mermaid Merchant

For this post, I'll be doing a walkthrough of how I've been doing my digital artworks recently. This is one of my MerMay 2020 pieces, titled "Mermaid Merchant"

I start with a few pencil sketches on my sketchbook (see this post for my sketchbook materials), and I take a picture of my favorite one and export it to ProCreate on my iPad.

I use the iPad to take a photo, and this saves me the trouble of scanning the book - I mean, the sketch is only going to be a guide.


I open the photo in ProCreate and use it as my guide to do a digital sketch:

To help myself out, all the elements in this piece are on seperate layers (mermaid, raft, hut, ocean, sky), and I move them around until I'm satisfied with the composition. Once I'm good with it, time to clean up the sketch a little and make sense of this:

I try not to be TOO clean with this, since the final artwork won't have lines, so just loose, fast lines, still on different layers. Some parts, I don't even bother with lines, especially with organic elements like the wooden hut and the leaves on the top. But since the mermaid is the focal point of the artwork, I try to make her look as best I can.

Then time to drop in color AND start placing in elements. This is the part of the process I like to call "This looks like sh!t and maybe I should scrap this, but I will push forward!"

At this point, I kiiiiiinda don't stress too much with color harmony. The great thing with working digital is, it's so easy to edit. But I do try to at least make the colors NOT clash with each other.

It's all starting to take some shape, but still looking pretty scattered. The leaves weren't working for me and it took me a couple of tries and redos to get to a point where I was satisfied with it. All the elements inside the nets (urchins, corals, starfish, seeweed) and the bottles were separate pieces copy/pasted together: I drew 2-3 different types and edited shape, size, color to make a bundle.

As you can see, I changed my mind about all the elements inside the nets cluttering up the background, so I just deleted most and kept just the seashells and starfish. The bottles remained, but I added a huge coral branch with pearl jewelry for variety. Please notice the dead clownfish and the seashell bras.

Okay, so never mind the dead clownfish, as I decided it didn't really add anything to the scene for me. Notice that I did edit out the super colorful corals and starfish inside the nets in favor of muted ones, and added shells AND I changed the leaves at the top.

Even MORE details added - I would like to note that I'm using about 140 layers on ProCreate. More seashells, I added brain coral, text on the floating sign, added tags on the items for sale... At this point, the piece is nearing completion enough that I try to play with the color.

Adding the last bits of details and changing elements that don't feel like they belong - I swapped out the brain coral for sea urchins in a half shell, made the mermaid smile a bit while she's looking at her shellphone, added Wilson up there, added seaweed to the life preserver....

....and finally, she is DONE! I muted the colors JUST a little bit and added extra fins to her tail.


Here's an animated .gif of the steps:

Mermaid Merchant is complete. And that's my process for doing digital artworks. I'll cover digital artwork materials in another post soon.

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