How to design a stylized Japanese cyborg in Procreate

How to design a stylized Japanese cyborg in Procreate

In this workshop, I’ll walk you through the basic steps I follow when creating my artwork in Procreate, from start to finish. I start with the size and resolution of the canvas, with high-quality print output in mind. With Procreate, you must balance the size and resolution of the canvas with your desired output needs.

I wanted to design a mechanical version of the classic cat, also known as Maneki Neko in Japanese. Traditionally the right palm is raised to signify a call for money and happiness, and the left palm is for good people. For me, creating a cyborg Frankenstein cat with a big head and armed limbs was a lot of fun. (To get started, check out our guide to the best drawing tablets to set you up for success.)

01. Find the initial spark of your personality

(Photo: © DaCosta Bailey)

I usually start with a thick brush like a cartoonist to explore shapes and proportions. I don’t want to get into details right now, so finding a solid silhouette is the main focus at the beginning of my work. To be content, you must have good energy and expressive language.

02. Arrange the items

(Photo: © DaCosta Bailey)

Once I’m happy with the art direction, I move on to refining the model. Switching to Perfect Pencil, I continue to select different parts on separate layers to move them around and adjust the composition. Using different colors for each layer helps me quickly assess its relationship to other parts of the puzzle.

03. Start the inking phase

(Photo: © DaCosta Bailey)

Without a doubt, inking is one of my favorite stages to work on. Applying the right contour lines with great texture makes the shape pop. I use a Watterson 2 brush modified from Procreate MEGAPACK XXL created by George for most of my pieces.

04. Create kanji characters

(Photo: © DaCosta Bailey)

Traditionally, a maneki neko is shown holding a gold coin with the kanji written on it, the most common Japanese characters “sen man ryou,” which translates to “billions of dollars.” I decided to use the kanji “maneku”, which means invitation. Using an Edo period designed font, paste it into a new layer, use Warp to set the position, and merge it with the font layer.

05. Create shadows

(Photo: © DaCosta Bailey)

Building shadows is next. Normally I blend layers together, but in this piece I kept the parts separate and grouped – background frame, far arm, claw, body, feet, ears, tail, and near arm – that way I can do some floating animation stuff when I’m done. As a result, the shadow and all subsequent steps must be passed in this way as well, including the previous inking. Setting the shadow layer to Multiply, choosing a lavender gray color and using a mix of soft and hard edges, I placed shadows to bring out volumes and reveal how light interacts with shapes.

06. Start color blocking

(Photo: © DaCosta Bailey)

Choosing a color palette can sometimes be difficult, as color has a huge impact on the feel of the finished piece. There are many color schemes for welcoming cats, but I decided to go with a classic white body, red collar, green bib and yellow accents, using a modified technical pencil to fill in the flat color in the shapes.

07. Add accents to liven up materials

(Photo: © DaCosta Bailey)

To elevate the material, I added a brushed gold to yellow finish to the arms and cables using a soft brush. It is important to match the level of detail in the reflection with the style; Too much can be distracting and too little will make it look flat.

08. Create the holographic claw

(Photo: © DaCosta Bailey)

Here are two ways to achieve this effect. Create a new layer below the working line and use it as a guide silhouette for the claw, then fill it with the desired color, which is orange in my case. Returning to the line layer, Alpha locks the layer, fills it with color and changes the blending mode to Add. You can then duplicate the line layer, use a little Gaussian blur and change the blending mode to Add, or use Bloom to create a similar look.

09. Add glowing rings

(Photo: © DaCosta Bailey)

The approach here is exactly the same as the claw. I create a medium orange ellipse, duplicate the layer and change it to Add, and I also add a little Gaussian blur to the mix to test it.

10. Give your personality a glow

(Photo: © DaCosta Bailey)

Now that the rings have been added, we should show their light on the models. To do this, bring a new layer in Add blend mode and set it to Clipping Mask. I also use the default medium airbrush to paint the soft glow.

11. Add flashing lights

(Photo: © DaCosta Bailey)

One element that screams robot are the little flashing lights, for which I used a modified light pen from Procreate’s default brush set. Create a new layer and set it to Normal, use the highlight pen to select your color, and set the saturation and brightness to 100%. Create dots and lines where you want to indicate the light source. Next, create a new layer set to Add and use a medium airbrush to paint the light spilling over nearby objects. Remember to add a drop effect by reducing the light intensity on objects far away from the source.

12. Create a frame

(Photo: © DaCosta Bailey)

This may be my love of industrial design, but I love using a shape in the background to frame a character or object. It can be the shape that adds directly to the story of the piece or simply adds texture and colour, adding an extra touch to the composition. I used three default brushes for this: the Mesh brush in the Texture group; Grease nozzle from the Spraypaints range; And a crazy spray of water set.

13. Add accent light for a finishing touch

(Photo: © DaCosta Bailey)

I like to use a highlighter for the finishing touch and add a little more polish to it

Image. Create a new layer group for the addition and choose a color that will either complement or contrast. Since my image is generally a warmer color, I chose a teal color. Using the same method as adding the glow from the rings, draw the light coming from the light source below the character.

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