Lineart cleanup

I figured I might just as well detail my process of cleaning lineart, since people keep asking how I do it.

As you know, I often sketch digitally, especially for more complicated scenes, and then print out my sketch in a very light, very saturated colour onto Bristol board. Then I use those messy coloured lines as guidelines and draw my clean lineart in pencil (H mechanical pencil, 0.5 size) on top of them, sometimes deviating more, sometimes less. Here, I changed the entire pose to something less stiff.

The lineart is then scanned (in three parts, as I was working in A3), reassembled, and looks like this. The rest of the cleanup job will be conducted by my trusty old friend, Photoshop 6.0. What were you saying? Outdated how? Speak up, sonny!

To get rid of the orange lines, I then open the colour adjustment window using Ctrl+U. I select “red” and then “yellow” in the top rolldown menu, and slide the bar that adjusts the brightness all the way to the right for both.

See – all the orange is gone.

I’ve tried using other colours for the underlaying sketch – cyan for a time, or yellow, but usually, you have two tones you need to filter out. But that’s just a mouseclick. I like orange because it’s great to filter out (better than magenta/pink which usually leaves a greyish rest), and great to work with while I’m drawing on it. Yellow is also great to filter out, but hard to see while doing the lineart!

Then I adjust the contrast using Ctrl+L, and use the burn tool to get rid of smudgy areas I want white in the final lineart.

Sometimes, I also tweak the lines to correct mistakes or just try around in areas that don’t fully satisfy me. Here, I changed Maedhros’ face a bit.

Lastly, I tint the lineart (again using the Ctrl-u function), usually to something in the red to blue range. When I print it out later to be watercoloured, I leave the tint in place, as a slightly coloured lineart results in a more dynamic colouring.

Printing my lineart on watercolour paper is something I’ve done for a long time now. It can be a failsafe against botched watercolour attempts or dirty-water accidents (though that probably doesn’t happen more than once a year). Mainly, I do it as it allows me to develop a very detailed lineart on smooth drawing paper, something that watercolour paper just doesn’t allow to this degree.

35 thoughts on “Lineart cleanup

  1. A bit OT thoughts. I always wonder one thing – why do you expose his stump? This si something I would keep out of sight, cover with clothes or an artificial hand (which I believe Curufin made for him to make life easier). I don’t think Maedhros would show off his lack of hand. Not in a situation like this, when he is alone, but in general while being with other people. Though I have no idea what is easier, less difficult for a person with amputated hand – to have it exposed or covered. I mean – is the tip pain sensitive, irritated by touch, dirt, sunlight etc. I would imagine it is, thus would rather cover it in silk than let it get in touch with sand etc.

    • That’s an interesting question, isn’t it? Caution – long “I think about fictional characters too often” post coming up. XD

      I know most artists don’t show it, but I’ve always thought that he was the type who’d deal with it quite brutally. “Don’t like me being maimed? Too unsavoury a sight for your tender eyes? Not my fault – deal with it!” ;)

      Just after his rescue, I usually draw him with his arm in a sling because I suppose it would still have been painful for a time. Afterwards, I wondered what would be worse for him. People *would* stare. A maimed Elf isn’t something you see every day. Would they keep trying to catch a glimpse of it hidden in a long sleeve? Best to shove it in their faces (figuratively speaking…) see their shock, feel a brief moment of satisfaction, and be done with it.

      Maedhros has always struck me as a blunt, honest type. Possibly with a rather blunt, grim sense of humour after Thangorodrim. I don’t think it’s unlikely that he would have seen the stump as a rather twisted badge of honour.

      And there’s another reason not to hide his stump. The war against Morgoth became his passion, his obsession. What better unspoken reminder to those around him, most of whom never suffered under Morgoth the way he did, of the danger of their enemy?

      I remember that the Middle-earth Role-Playing supplement gave him an artificial hand. I never liked the thought. Prostheses don’t fit my world view of Middle-earth – stiff ones certainly wouldn’t work for an elf, and anything “enchanted” or even “mechanical” sounds plain creepy to me, and not in-genre.

      Just my ideas, idiosyncratic and non-conclusive. ;) And of course without any real textual evidence.

      • Haha, welcome to the club of thinking too much about feelings and needs of fictional characters ;)

        I can see as this could be a badge of honor and a reminder to what he’s been through. Using it ijn a blunt way directly to the eyes of others, too, if necessary. Still in most cases I would rather go Jamie Lannister style and gave him artificial hand in such situations; then some soft material cover for comfort while being in private. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel touching outside world with this stump would be irritating for skin. Though maybe in real such parts are dumb to touch? No idea. Also for him remembering his mother name and comparing to what he sees could be hurtful.

        I finally red teh description and kudos for Fresian horse! I recently fell in love with them :D Also while discussing Noldorin horses at Polish JRRT forums we decided Aman horses could look like Fresians but come in many colours (contrary to the black beauties). Another tall brand are Shire horses, the tallest of all I think. Still there were kinds of animals in Aman that do not exist outside the Blessed Realms, so horses Maedhros brought from Aman must have been tall enough for the Noldor (and himself), while they grew shorter with time on Arda, so are nowhere to be found these days ;)

  2. Nup, with that neck it’s not a cob, and with those feathers, it’s not a thoroughbred! A very handsome horse, although if you’re having fun with horse proportions.. I don’t know if you know Sam Savitt’s book ‘Draw Horses’; good for different breeds and their proportions from multiple angles + gaits. It’s on Amazon, (and there might be a pdf floating around the interweb).

    Would he wear the sword on the left hip? I love the frame of foliage – looking forward to seeing the final version.

  3. Sam Savitt looks great – but too expensive! All pdf versions seem to have left the web too. ;)

    The sword is the Noldorin equivalent of a hunting knife so he’d wear it on his left hip. :) I doubt even Maedhros would bring a sword along on a hunting trip.

    Wait… he probably would. Which means this needs to be during the Long Peace. ;)

    • Ahh, I can’t see the full length, and wasn’t sure if it was a knife or a sword.

      If you want my 2c on the horse: very handsome head, good neck and chest. It’s the legs that let you down. The front ones are okay, but the hind legs (particularly the left) are a little on the ummm…stumpy? side. If the horse is coming up a hill, there should be a little more extension and definition of the hindquarters. Horses are to a certain extent rear-wheel drive, and you really feel their strength when they’re climbing hills, particularly at speed. I realise they’re walking in your pic though.

        • I think if when you colour it you define the line between the hip and the knee, so it doesn’t look as though the knee joins the belly you’d be right. Of course, that’s only if you want the horse moving: it may be that Maedhros is dragging him away from a particularly luscious patch of vegetation and so he’s digging in. Static, the definition of the limbs is more easily lost.

          Even an 8 ft tall Elf would have trouble hauling a horse away from a meal, whatever the Elvish way with ‘all good beasts’ is! At least if he can ride without needing reins, Maedhros would have a hand freed up to hold all those new tresses you’ve given him out of his face. XD

          • A free hand? That’s cruel. Maedhros’ free hand is still hanging around on Thangorodrim somewhere. :D

            I usually draw him with his hair loosely tied back (not braided… he can’t do that on his own and his pride would forbid him to let others do it), but I imagine the wind just tugged those strands out.

  4. Oh je, bei den Pferderassen Ered Luin Cop und dem Vollblut aus Valinor musste ich wirklich lachen… und mir ist aufgefallen, dass ich mir noch nie die Frage gestellt hab mit was die Pferde in ME vergleichbar sind…
    Aber das Größenverhältnis Pferd-Maedhros zeigt irgendwie sehr deutlich, dass er wirklich groß geraten ist… was mir an dem Tier aber gefällt, dass es so aussieht, als könnte es einen Elb in voller Rüstung (die Rüstung dürfte ja doch einiges wiegen) tragen könnte… und ich denke irgendwie Maedhros dürfte sein Pferd danach wählen ob es ihm in jeder möglichen Situation nützlich wäre…

    • Auf Maedhros’ Pferd muss man sowohl Hirsche als auch Orks jagen können. ;)

      Balrogs wohl nicht, das hat er früh gemerkt, dass das in die Hose geht…

      • :D Ja, das muss man wohl können… aber ich denke das sind nur die Mindesanforderungen… also das mit den Orks und Hirschen.
        Weil irgendwie glaube ich nicht, dass es ihm sonderlich in den Kram gepasst haben kann, wenn er selbst nicht in der Lage war sein Pferd zu satteln (sicher er war ein Prinz und musste sicher nicht alles selber machen) aber es ist doch sehr viel praktischer da nicht auf Hilfe angewiesen zu sein und wenn es nur für den Zweifelsfall ist… und wenn das Pferd putzen und satteln sollten auch Einhändig gut machbar sein… nur trensen und Hupfpflege… würden ein sagen wir mal kooperatives Pferd brauchen (und keines das versucht ihn zu beißen…)
        Die Tatsache, dass er nur noch eine Hand macht, dürfte es ihm ordentlich scher machen… :(

        • Im Prinzip sind Sattel und Zaumzeug bei Elben-Pferden ja nur schmückendes Beiwerk. Legolas reitet komplett ohne und Glorfindel benutzt es nur, weil’s so schön aussieht. ;) Ich denke, für Maedhros wird man irgendwelche Befestigungen herstellen können, die sich einhändig bedienen lassen. Schnallen gehen auch einhändig. Ich hab’s ausprobiert. XD

  5. *Hust* nicht nur du… ich hab den ganzen “ich sattel ein Pferd mit nur einer Hand” Mist (und noch andere Dinge) einmal ausprobiert … deswegen auch die Klammer mit dem beißen… aber sonst ist es machbar… selbst ohne übung
    Stimmt Legolas reitet ohne Sattel und Trense… Gandalf auch und nennt das elbische Reitweise (und damit hat er mich wahnsinnig verwirrt…)
    Curufin zieht Lúthien vor sich in den Sattel… und Glorfindel hat auch einen Zaum auf seinen Asphaloth gepackt…
    Aber mitlerweile tendiere ich dazu zu sagen, die Noldor reiten mit Sattel, weil es auf die dauer bequemer ist und die Sindar machen es nicht… tja weil die Noldor es machen

    • *lachab* Vor 20 Jahren, in meiner wilden Jugend, hab ich mal ein paar Stunden lang alles mit rechts gemacht, um zu sehen, wie das so ist. Ich finde es grade beängstigend und beruhigend zugleich, dass ich damit nicht allein bin.

      Und cool, dass du auf solche Dinge achtest. Auf Curufins Sattel hatte ich noch nie geachtet. Interessant, dass die Noldor offenbar “zivilisierter” sind als ihre wilderen Verwandten.

      • *murmelt* hmm ich hab nur meine Rechte verwendet (bin Rechtshänder) aber nachdem er sich mit der Zeit daran gewöhnt haben muss nur noch mit Links umzugehen betrachte ich ihn nach ein paar Jahren als Linkshänder (so gezwungener Weise in seinem Fall)…
        Aber ich finde es erstaunlich, dass ich nicht die einzige bin, die auf solche Ideen kam… aber es kam die Frage auf, ob er ein Pferd eben satteln kann, das hatte ich für eine FF gebraucht… und war mir einfach nicht sicher ob das geht oder nicht.. also wurde bei erster Gelegenheit getestet und es ging…

        Hmm ich war gezwungen darauf zu achten, nachdem ich den HdR zum zweiten mal gelesen habe stand ich vor einem Problem Glorfindel und sein Sattel und Legolas und Gandalf die behauptet haben Elben reiten ohne Sattel… Ich hab mir alle Möglichen Theorien zusammengebogen… abwegige und weniger abwegige… Angefangen von Glorfindel hat den Sattel nur, weil man ihm gesagt hatte, er sollte einen Hobit suchen (nun wo er auf die Schnelle den Sattel her hatte… das war so was anderes)… bis hin zur Verzweiflungstheorie, das Glorfindel ein seltsamer Elb wäre…
        Aber als sich das im Sil dann gehäuft hat, war es so der Punkt: Noldor mit Sattel und die Sinda waren zu Halsstarrig um sich das abzuschauen (weil irgendwie finde ich die Sindar sind beinahe genauso Stolz und Stur wie die Noldor auch wenn man ihnen das vielleicht besser nicht sagen sollte)

        Ähm ich entschuldige mich für das lange gfasel ^^”

        • Kein Ding, ich hab viel zu wenige Menschen in meinem Leben, mit denen ich über solch wichtige Dinge faseln kann!

          (Gestern Abend, ich zu meinem Mann: “Hey guck mal, das wird gut!”
          Er guckt für geschätze zwölf Hunderststel Sekunden: “Oh, ja.”)

          Tolkien selbst hat diese Frage in einem seiner Briefe mal beantwortet, weil die Unterschiede zwischen Glorfindels und Legolas’ Reitstilen auch Lesern aufgefallen waren, und er sagte, brauchen täte es auch Glorfindel nicht, aber es diene wirklich der Zierde.

          Wobei die Erklärung super ist: “Gonna pick up Hobbits! … Better take a saddle.”

          Wobei ich mir auch gut vorstellen kann, dass die Passagen in der Lay of Leithian, dass Curufin mit Sattel reitet, längst geschrieben waren, als Tolkien den Herrn der Ringe schrieb, und dann nicht mehr überarbeitet hat.

          • Dann bin ich erleichtert, dass ich nicht damit genervt habe.

            (Oh… sowas ist immer gemein… )

            Echt, hat er das, wusste ich gar nicht. Vielen Dank für die Auskuft! Hmm dann lag ich mit der bequemlichkeitstheorie ja nicht einmal sooo weit daneben…

            Die Erklärung hat mir solange gefallen bis ich mich dann gewundert hatte, woher er auf die Schnelle einen passenden Sattel gefunden hat, dann wurde es schwierig… (wenn die Überlegungen dann mit eingeschlossen haben, dass irgendwo in Bruchtal noch ein alter aus Aragorns Kindheit rumgelegen haben musste hat es hinten und vorne keinen Sinn mehr gemacht… und da Gegenstände nicht aus dem Nichts auftauchen – höchstens in das Nichts verschwinden…)

            Stimmt das ist auch eine Möglichkeit, daran hatte ich noch gar nicht gedacht… Hilfe.. so viel Verwirrung alleine bei dem Thema reiten mit oder ohne Sattel…

  6. He’s really handsome, I like this. And happy, that is also priceless. But I really feel envious: you already have spring so it is possible to draw outside… Here, There is still winter.

    • It *is* highly unusual for Germany to be this warm in March. It’s surreal though – the nights are so cold that the car windows freeze, you drive to school in your winter coat and wish for gloves – and by break time, the students beg me to do the next lesson outside!

      • It’s better then here – there is still snow and no flowers, no grass. It is still bello zero. :(

  7. Do you print on a special paper with special printing ink, because in my experience prints bleed like hell when something wet gets to them.

  8. The fact that you start digitally, then print to draw traditionally, is an interesting way to tackle the sketch->finished lineart process and not something I ever thought of trying.

    What three parts is the line art scanned in: background, foreground, figures? Or just three sections because it’s too big for the scanner bed?

    • The latter. :) I drew this in A3 size, and scanned the left half, and the right half, and the middle, or I always end up with a blurry strip somewhere in the pic.

  9. My…My eyes! Are melting from the gorgeous-ness of this whole picture, there aren’t enough words to express how much i love this. Maedhros looks VERY handsome and i love how that used a Friesian horse :D ( They’re my favourite breed). Thank you for sharing your process for clean lineart too, it’s very helpful :D

      • Oh i love Maedhros how ever you draw him, i also love how you now draw him with longer hair :D (but that might be because i have a ‘thing’ for long haired men lol elves especially)

  10. Sounds like you have something specific in store for him… The-you-know-what? I mean the th-word?
    As far as I can follow the discussion on ‘mit oder ohne Sattel’ – I agree that it shouldn’t make much difference for an elf, Noldo or Sinda, but the saddle is more than just decoration: it’s supposed to distribute the rider’s weight on the horse’s back, so in fact it is also for the comfort of the horse (if it is properly constructed and fitted, that is. But I don’t think Feanorians would have any problems whatsoever with *constructing* anything properly). Not to mention that it comes in handy when you’re planning on taking luggage. Or scooping up elf-maidens, for that matter…

    • Of course! I forgot about that. Especially a tall Elf like Maedhos might have wanted to make it easier for a horse. Or, if he was *that* tall, he might make it easier altogether by simply running along left and right of the horse :D

      So, as a horse person, can you tell me if the horse works? It didn’t until the very last revision.

      What Maedhros has coming to him isn’t the Th-word as much as the A-word. Captured in Angband. Though I have to say he looks no less pitiful there. :(

  11. Sure the horse works – a gentle giant, heavy yet graceful, a noble steed for a tall Elf. I can almost hear the earth thunder as they charge orcs *vengeful grin*
    As for the details: perhaps a larger muzzle to match that wide forehead? And I’d also give him bigger eyes (but I may be biased, as I’m into Arabians and they have eyes like saucers, lol). I think the horse would probably turn his right ear towards Maedhros to show he’s paying attention to his Elf (Mona is doing something like that in pictures 7 and 9 on my flickr). I’m also worried about one thing: isn’t Maedhros too much in front of the horse? I mean, when they both step up, isn’t the horse’s right front foot going to land on his left heel?
    Just some rambling and nit-picking: feel free to ignore it.
    Captured in Angband – arrrrgh, that’s gonna hurt. Tell Maedhros we are all with him in this dark hour. And tell him to spit Morgoth in the eye if he gets a chance…

  12. I can’t really help their positions now – let’s just hope the good animal won’t step on his master’s foot. ;)

    I did incorporate your ideas for the muzzle and ear. Nice one! Thank you!

  13. Hi! I1ve been following at DeviantaArt for a while, but just recently discovered this blog. Your work is amazing!!!! But reading this tutorial I cant help wondering how do you watercolour a piece printed with an inkjet printer (i guess it’s an inkjet) without smuging the lines with water?

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