~Nessiah’s super cool digital drawing and coloring tutorial~

Hi there! The mere fact you are looking at this tutorial is either because you are curious or you want to learn~! I'll just assume you know how to draw but aren't familiar with CGing. This tutorial is written for mouse users mainly, but this can apply to tablet users as well. So let’s get started!

First you need to know what you want to do. For this tutorial, I decided to make a character concept for a game called Seraphim Project. I had a vague idea of what I wanted the character to be like. This is a fan game of Riviera, so I wanted to base it on the existing types of characters/creatures. Grim angels there are known to sacrifice something in order to get their Diviner so I decided that she might have sacrificed her voice for example. I decided on her personality: A timid archer that is gentle like the wind but fiery as the sun. From here on I’ll name her Alicia!

…ok that was corny but you get the point. First we need to do research on how we want her to look like. As I‘ve decided to make the character a Grim Angel, I’ll check the Riviera and Yggdra Union (Part of the same series) art books and see how they look like for reference.

Using the information gathered, I got an idea of what the character would look like. I then sketched it in my notebook.

With that as a base, I started to think about the colors I would use. Her personality is of a timid, nice girl. These were my thoughts: Blonde, Green or Brown Eyes, White clothes, Blue Jacket thingy and a flowery dress. Her bow would be made of Ice and she wears black shoes to keep with the theme of Grim Angels. Normally I work alone, but for this game I decided to get a partner artist. I drew all the expressions and she interprets them in her own style. I discussed this character with Aya and she brought up a suggestion to make the hair platinum blonde and we went with that. Usually we do the bust first before any further planning. Here’s how she looks like:

And for her status screen portrait, here’s what it looked like.

Now that we have a base image, let’s go to the fun part!

The Actual Process
After scanning the picture, paste it in your favorite image editing program that isn’t MS Paint. In this tutorial I use PaintTool SAI and Photoshop CS4, but you can apply this to other programs such as the GIMP and other programs. The bigger the resolution you work in, the better. I set the image size in this picture to 800x1000. This is helpful since when you resize it and shrink it, the lighter lines will disappear and it will look smoother overall.

In Sai: Go to Filter->Brightness and Contrast. In Photoshop: Go to Mode->Adjustments->Brightness and Contrast. It should now look like this:

Contrast over brightness! It makes the darker areas dark and the lighter areas light.

After that, we will make a set of folders to make our inking and coloring life easier.

Take a look at Layer2, where the sketch is. It is at 21%. This is the Opacity. At 0% it is completely transparent, but having it at a low number would make it easier to trace over. After that I set a background layer of dark grey. Don’t use white, it’ll just strain your eyes, and it’s better for picking colors in a neutral background rather than white.

Now use the Pen tool (SAI) or Hard Round Brush Tool (Photoshop) and zoom in the picture. Zoom in enough so you can easily see the details. That’s the beauty of digital painting/inking! If you have a mouse wheel it will be easier to zoom in and out.

A tip for inking: varying your brush sizes allows you to manipulate line thickness and is easier for coloring. That’s very good to know for the mouse users! For now let’s learn about shortcut keys~

These keys are your best friend.

“[” is for making the brush size smaller and “]” for bigger brush size. If you use a mouse, the best size for you is 1 as a starter. For tablet users, it depends on the setting of your tablet. Personally I use 4. The numbers 1-0 changes the opacity in SAI which will be helpful for mouse users later~

N is the shortcut tool for Pen Tool in SAI, B in Photoshop for the brush. E is for eraser in both programs. Tab hides the windows in case you want a bigger workspace while drawing. Holding Alt is for the eye drop tool for easier color picking. D is for erasing the whole canvas in SAI. That is Ctrl+A+Del in Photoshop. U is the shortcut key for lines/shapes in Photoshop. Memorizing these keys will make your digital CG process much easier!

Before we move on to the drawing, try warming up first. Draw straight lines and circles, it doesn’t have to be perfect but it’s good to get your hand ready for the task.

Before you start, have a music playlist ready. It’s better to do that than going to your media player and changing songs constantly. That will distract you so just set the playlist first and loop it. I always start drawing with the head and I make sure I use layers for easier editing in case I made a mistake somewhere. You can start by using the mouse to trace her face.

The lines are thin enough for the basic features.

Just in case you can’t draw straight lines you can always use the vector layer in SAI and use the line tool or the line/shape tool in Photoshop. You can hold shift and click somewhere in Photoshop to make a straight line instantly, it’s not needed in SAI because of vector layer. But make sure the thickness is alright!

There is a trick for making lines thin. You can start with a thick line and just use the eraser tool to make it thinner. Illustration below:

Thick -> Eraser Tool

You can also do a trick with the lasso tool.

Ctrl+D cancels the selection. After that, just use the erase tool on it to the desired thickness. You can also use the Pen Tool. It’s not hard to use: You draw out control points with the pen, then drag the lines to adjust the curve. But talk is cheap (in this case text) so I’ll show screenshots instead! Here’s the setting I used.

Then you will notice that your layer went like this:

You can’t edit the layer as it is now. So we will rasterize it so that it’ll turn into a normal layer.

Now it’s a normal layer~!

Personally, if you’re going to do lineart in Photoshop, use the line tool for straight lines -> Pentool for pesky curves -> You can double click as soon as you get the points together so that they would connect and create a black line if they didn’t do so. -> Rasterize it and then use the eraser tool to make it thin -> Make adjustments using a .1 hard round brush size. Here’s the result I got for playing around with it.

Now for SAI’s vector tool, it’s easier to make curves and lines with it, but doesn’t have the nice sharpness of the pen tool as above. So you have to use eraser at some points. But other than that it’s very straight forward. Just remember that it’s this button:

Just a reminder: SAVE OFTEN, do backups if you need to. Normally, a picture will take around 5 backups whenever a drastic change is about to be made, or just in case they accidentally got merged (ctrl+e) into one layer. But other than that, let’s start inking this thing~!

Sometimes I increase the opacity of the lower drawing to see some details I might missed like the bangs on the hair.

I make the ones closer to the viewer thicker so they won’t seem flat to the ones behind it.

Most of the time I hide the sketch layer to see if I missed some parts while inking.

You can rotate the canvas in SAI (delete key) and Photoshop to make curves easier to draw. In photoshop it’s this:

And shortcut key is R.

Insert (INS) in SAI will snap it back to the original position. I made the lines around the face thicker so they would stand out from the hair. That’s the start of the changing brush size activity, and you’ll be doing it often from here on:

I decided to change the background color a bit since grey seemed to dark for me to see the lines. You should zoom out after a few minutes to see how it looks like.

You will redo (ctrl+z) and undo (ctrl+y) a lot of times in the process as well as changing the anatomy around and some props, but the end result will be worth it! After a few of that, it ended up like this:

It’s not yet done, but you can see which parts I really made the lines thick and what lines I made thin. During this process, I clean up excess lines or redraw some lines. I add some black lines to make some areas have more depth like in this one:

And redoing some parts is unavoidable:

And after a few tweaking like cleaning up lines and outlining (making lines thicker on the outside).
At this point I save and make a backup. You can also take a break from here like get some chow or do another activity away from your computer for a little bit. Then get back and check if there are errors.

Afterwards, I made two new layers named Wings and Bow & Arrow. But I realized that the canvas size is too small for the wings so I made it bigger. Now it’s 1300x1200. Then I started drawing the wings. If you aren’t familiar with something, get a reference! Don’t draw something you aren’t sure of. Once you get used to it it’ll be a piece of cake, in this case 5 minutes for each wing.

Now all that’s left is the bow. I used the vector layer this time to make straight lines easier. After I’m done with it, I made a new save (four backups are made during the duration of this tutorial) and erase some excess parts on that new save. After erasing and fixing a few parts.

I noticed that her right wing is off. So I redrew it.
And the final product:

Total Amount of Layers: 9
Total Amount of Time for Tutorial: 14 Hrs
Total Amount of time to finish drawing: 6 Hrs

If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!
You can get a pdf version here:


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I am tired of Earth. These people. I am tired of being caught in the tangle of their lives.
Kentona's Awesome Digital Drawing Tutorial:

Step 1) Get Nessiah to do all your digital drawing
Step 2) Repeat

You are actually pro. This is pretty awe inspiring work.
I usually re-define shortcuts to something more convenient to reach. For example, in photoshop, I have the following:

Z: Pencil
X: Paintbrush
C: Eraser
A: Decrease Brush Size
S: Increase Brush Size
Q: Rectangular Marque


That way everything I use regularly is convenient to reach and I can just rapidly switch between tools and quickly chug out the pics I need.

Wicked pose btw. WHEN IS IT COMING OUT???:!?
@Kentona ROFL.
@Eddie thank you~
@Neok, yeah I never change my hotkeys so I can use the same ones when I'm at school or at home, I think I got too used to it. I could've sworn I said somewhere there that you can change the hotkeys, oh well :3

Also it's never going out muahahahaha!
i love ness's art so i will utilize this to its full extent thanks ness :3
Kindly reupload your PDF version of these, it went 404 when I tried accessing it.
Sorry about that, I had to remove it for book purposes as my mom said =3=;;;
I'll repost it later :)
That was nice, thanks for the read. It was a little annoying having you jump between two program descriptions though :\
It covers 2 programs at once as I said in the beginning though...sooooo....
To be honest I was planning to redo it, so maybe sometime
You've spent 6 hours? You can draw faster!
Yeah this one is made by a wired mouse know the one with the trackball and school PC. And very old :D
In SAI I use a brush set to 10 blending (Dilution & Persistence at 0) to do my lineart.
Hey EriksBlue, that's a really good config for mouse drawings. Thanks! I've been asked some questions about that.
I am tired of Earth. These people. I am tired of being caught in the tangle of their lives.
Timely response is timely.
Also it's never going out muahahahaha!

No Riviera fan game?


I am now very sad...
2 years later lol
2 years later lol


... Oh. Oops...

Make da game
I have decided to get out of making fangames since they eat so much time.
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