Introduction: Draw a Crazy Cranium With Sketchbook Pro

About: I love to build stuff and I feel at home with all the folks I see posting things here. I consider myself lucky to design and make a variety of things for a living. If you are interested in seeing the junk I ma…

Fun and easy to follow "How to Draw" just in time for Halloween!
Get out your ipad, iphones, tablets and wacoms!

Step 1: It All Starts With a Blank Page

I Started by opening Sketchbook Pro, I'm using version 5.2. I received my first copy of Sketchbook on my first tablet PC I bought back in 2005. I instantly liked the functionality of the pen stroke gestures and it was the first serious drawing program designed to be used on a tablet.
It would appear to me that Sketchbook has continued to get better at what it seems to do best, Help traditional artist enter the world of digital art as painlessly as possible.

Honestly, I use all kinds of software to do what I do. It is the same as my shop, I have a bunch of tools and they are all good for different things...I love them all.

Okay, now where to start?

Step 2: The Construction Drawing

Before I start sketching I almost always create a new layer to draw on. This comes in handy for a few reasons.
One reason is it allows me to colour in or draw a background in behind my line drawing. In this case my first layer is going to be a rough sketch, also know as a construct drawing.It's purpose is to lay down some ground work and  plan my drawing.
(Tip: I always assume the first marks I make are going to be wrong and that I will adjust them until I am happy with them)  
Adopt this idea, draw lightly and you will never have trouble starting a drawing.

Something I love about Sketchbook Pro is the symmetry feature. Here I am going to use it to auto draw the other side of my skull. This really speeds up the process as long as what you are drawing is of course somewhat symmetrical. I am just trying to lay out some basic shapes to act as guides for when I go and do my line drawing.
For some reason when I draw digitally I still use a light blue line which goes back to the days of non-repro blue pencils and makers, but of course any colour works here. When drawing with pencil on paper, I use an under hand grip to keep the construct drawing light and ghosty. 

Step 3: Line Drawing

With my construction drawing done I move on to my line drawing, traditionally call "Inking" I have created a new layer for this so that I a can turn off or dump my rough sketch when I am done using it. I have also turned off symmetry for the rest of the drawing. Had this been a mechanical looking robot or front view of a car,I would choose to leave it on until I start shading but I want this to have an organic feel so going freehand at this point is the way to go.
I chose a preset brush and used the brush editor to adjust the thick and thinness to suit the size of my drawing.
The nice thing about digital inking over traditional inking is the "undo" key. Although this is a nice feature to make every sweeping line perfect, I try to avoid keeping my fingers on ctrl-z and keep moving forward.

Step 4: Shading With Hatching

When I am working traditionally with pencil or pen I like to use hatching to shade and add form to my line work. Sketchbook has a great preset to do just that. With a few strokes of the stylus all this hatching appears on the drawing. I like it and I like the look.

Step 5: Background, Shading and Heightening

With the line and hatching done I turned off my rough layer and created a new one for a background. It started with a yellow ocher fill then started to darken it down on the edges and in the shadows of the skull. With that done I began to heighten the light parts of the skull by adding lighter version of the yellow, even a bit of white. All of this on the background layer behind the line work and shading.  

Step 6: Blood Will Flow

I wanted to do something that would feature one of my favorite brushes in sketchbook. Since Jackson Pollock isn't very Halloweenie, I give you splattered blood. 

Step 7: Digital Airbrushing

Up to now it has been mostly drawing techniques, for the eyes here I will do something that is a little more like painting, albeit digital painting. I use to do a lot of airbrushing when I was in high school, it seemed like the thing to do. I learned a very important lesson back then. As an airbrush illustrator I was keen to learn all the tricks,masking using frisket paper, masking fluid and templates. Used all kinds of paints and dyes, opaque and transparent. I wanted to master this tool so that I could do anything and everything with it. One day I saw a how to tutorial by one of my favorite artist, sure he use an airbrush but he also used  paint brushes and pencil crayons. He used the tool that was best suited for the job, the airbrush was just one of them. Go figure. 

Step 8: It's All in the Eyes

From time to time I teach kids a thing or two about drawing. Whether it is a portrait or wildlife drawing, I show and encourage them to take the time to draw the eyes the best  that they can for the simple fact; you can mess up any other part of a drawing, but if you get the eyes right then your mom and dad will love it. (I also teach them useful drawing skills as well)
I created a new layer above my lines for the eyes. This is so that if I mess it up it is easy to dump them and try again.

Step 9: Almost There...

Well, I am not really following my own advice when it comes to the eye theory...but I have a feeling this is not going to be one of my folks favs anyway.

Step 10: And There You Have It.

To finish this off I air brushed a dark blue and brown around the edges to add a little fall off to the picture and also used a rough blue pencil brush to add some shadows to the skull.
Looking at this quick drawing demo I just did, I am reminded how fond I am of a split complementary colour scheme. I don't even think about it while I am drawing it just happens. Let me point out the yellowish hue to the background, the dark blueish hue in the shadow and the red splatters. 

Thank you for taking the time to have a look at this, I hope you found something here to encourage you to try this out yourself.
After all that's what we're all here for anyway.

Happy Halloween,