Creating … Jack Wolf

Written by The Panda

So as you saw today, the comic we posted is actually an old one, the first exclusive comic we did. We’ve had more problems than benefits with the exclusives, so we dropped the idea, and will be posting these in the next few days.

I’ve been working on a little project for our resident wolfy. A few months ago Jack asked me if I could do a commission for him and I promptly agreed. We agreed there was no rush and I could start whenever I had a bit of spare time. I decided to get started on it yesterday and I got into it really bad, working on it for about 7 hours straight. It was the same thing this morning, so much so that I couldn’t think of anything for a comic. So as my apology, I’d like to share this project with you guys, step by step.

The first thing I did was contact Jack and ask him what he wanted, what he wanted his eponymous character Jack to be doing, pose ideas and such. He was rather lenient on the pose thing, so I quickly sketched a few quick poses to show him and see which one he’d like. He did mention that he wanted Jack to hold a gun and be all gung ho and stuff.

Here are the quick sketches I did:

Upon seeing those, Jack said he liked the third option, the one where the character is looking up slightly because it made him look rather James Bond-ish. Once we were settled on that idea, I scaled the sketch up, and started doing a cleaner sketch over it. Notice how the gun looks crappy on the above sketch? Yes, I suck at drawing guns. We’ll see how I deal with the problem in a few moments!

Here’s the beginning of the cleaner sketch:

I spent quite a bit of time on this part alone. I was a bit afraid with this pose at first because of the perspective on the face because getting the muzzle right was very important. If that wasn’t perfect,  the whole thing would look off.

After I got the head sketched to my liking I sketched in the rest of the body.

As you can see he doesn’t have a shirt on yet, and both his hands and the gun are looking wonky. His neck is also way too short as well, but these are all details that I worked on after drawing the main sketch. I did add Jack’s mandatory smoke though! Onward!

The sketch is being more and more refined here. The waist and jeans have been tweaked and detailed, and I’ve lengthened his neck a little bit. Notice I’ve also sketched in his right hand proper, and Boo even helped me sketch in the gun with the proper angle. Yes, our resident Boo has experience drawing guns!

The next step is where I concentrated on the gun itself, a USP 45 upon Wolfy’s request. You can also plainly see how I get around my non existent ability to draw guns…

The trick is to look up reference images of the item you want to draw. Most of the time I need to find many images, and then try to sketch something that looks good and somewhat like what it’s supposed to look like. I did get lucky this time, both Jack and I were hunting around for references and he found the above reference that I promptly put in Photoshop over the character’s hand. The angle on this reference was perfect, although this happens rarely for me. I usually have to tweak and skew the image before I can start sketching. Anyway, next step!

Here I simply added his other hand. Not much to say about this step.

The time came to put a shirt on the wolf. I didn’t know what Jack wanted on him at the beginning, which is why I drew him shirtless (it also helps to draw a character without clothes at first, and then draw the clothes over the body). Jack said he wanted something tactical and sleek looking and gave me the reference you can see below, along with the jacket sketched on the character.

Now we have the complete cleaner, detailed, sketch. The next step is to start cleaning, or inking. It’s a fairly simple process though time consuming when you want to get your line looking nice and neat. There isn’t much to it, just trace over the sketch nicely with a round brush, applying thicker lines in places and thinner lines in others. Here’s what the fully inked character looks like.

For this drawing I wanted a more comic book shading style. I’ve used this style a few times before. It consists of applying ‘blocks’ of black shadows, following your light source. Here’s what it looks like:

I try to never put too much black on the character. Too much of it might hide some of the finer details. The next step is applying some flat colors. Fairly simple process. I did apply one change to the character upon Jack’s request. In the comic, Jack Wolf’s eyebrows are a dark grey, implying that his hair is dark as well. However, Jack asked me to make his hair a lot paler, almost white (no worries, it doesn’t age him a bit!). Here is the character with the flat colors applied, along with a simple gradient in the background.

He looks a lot more alive already! Our next step is the shading process. With this style I tend to use black gradients, on a separate layer. I then set that layer to either multiply, overlay or color burn, depending on which blending more fits the underlying color best. I sometimes need to use several layers (it can get confusing when you don’t rename the layer straight away, let me tell you…). After the shading is done, I then do some minor highlights, usually a thin line on the character’s ‘edges’ and some highlights in the hair and other shiny bits. I use the same method I use in shading, using a round white brush instead of gradients. Here’s what the shading and highlighting looks like at this stage:

At this stage the character looked nice and all, but I thought the clothing could benefit from a bit of texture. This is where a simple Google search can help you save hours, as there are plenty of free texture packs, patterns and brushes available online. For the jacket, I though a nice mesh-like texture would look great and add to the overall tactical look of the garment. I couldn’t find the exact type of fabric mesh I wanted, so I went to the next best thing, metal mesh. I found a nifty pack with seamless textures that could be used as patterns. Here is what the jacket now looks like with the texture added, along with a bit of bevel and emboss tweaking.

It gives the fabric an armored feel, which is what I was going for. Next I wanted to find a nice denim texture to apply to the jeans. Again, a Google search saved the day as I managed to find another pattern pack, with seamless denim textures. Here is what the spruced up jeans look like with the texture on.

The jeans look much better with the texture on, as more depth is added with some more bevel and emboss tweaking (NOTE: The above picture is purely a demonstration of the texture, not a shameless crotch shot.). We now have our fully colored, shaded and textured character. It could be left this way, but the overall piece would look much better with a background, so let’s work on a background.

The first thing to do for a background is to think of a setting. I discussed this with Jack before starting. With the pose of the character, jack thought it would be cool if he was on the corner of a wall, ready to jump out and shoot at the dudes who stole his hat and his last pack of smoke (Panda is the primary suspect).

I started scouring Google for some images of street and building corners, and once I was satisfied I stated building the corner wall. I did this simply using blocks of color shaded with gradient layers, as well as overlapping some texture images (for this wall, a stained paper texture worked wonders).

For the next step I simply kept on building the background, using some premade brushes of chain link fences and barbed wire. I then extended the wall to the left, and added some more grime and even drew some graffiti to add to the bad neighborhood feel.

I could’ve left it at that, but thought that some more shadows and lighting would add to the image. I used several gradient layers, using different blending modes to create the shadows and lights. I then created a layer that I color filled with dark blue, and set that to overlay mode with a 20 to 30% opacity to give the overall image a blue tint. At that stage I just tweaked the details, I duplicated some shadow layers on the character to add a bit more contrast, added even more grime on the wall, put in the character’s drop shadow and added the smoke from the cigarette. The overall tweaking is well worth it, as you can see the difference between the above image, and the following, final version.


And so that’s pretty much it. That’s how I go from an idea to a finished image. This one must’ve taken around twelve to thirteen hours over the course of two days.

I hope this is enough to compensate for the lack of comic today. Do tell me if you enjoyed this read, and if you did, I’ll try and do some more in the future! Thanks for reading!

Peace, out!

PS: Jack’s hat and smokes are still missing, please contact him if you find them. And don’t smoke his cigarettes, it’ll only make him mad.