My favorite pencil (since the days of architecture studio in college) is the General “DRAUGHTING” pencil. The lead is dark and soft, which allows for such variation in shading. I do some sketching with it, but usually use a lighter pencil if I know I’m going to ink over it. It’s a pencil that just doesn’t demand to be painted or inked over.

I was commissioned to do a pencil sketch of the new IBM Fellows that were announced this month. Of course, knowing the company, I had to double-check to make sure they knew I specialized in “cartoon-y”, not realistic. Although, I could do realistic if I wanted to, it’s just not my forte, and I would probably end up using a Photoshop filter on a photo to make people think I drew it. I remember when we had to copy a photo of Meg Ryan in art class in high school, and the girl next to me accused me of tracing mine. People are so rude. Anyway…the person who commissioned the sketch wanted a parody of “The Magnificent Seven”, because there were seven Fellows, with giant caricature heads. Ok, I can do that.

But…”pencil sketch” eventually turned into a full color ordeal. I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to color it, since I usually color things that have hard lines or are vector, and in Photoshop/Illustrator, it’s just a simple click with the paint bucket and voila, color. I really didn’t want to redo the whole thing as a watercolor, since my watercolor skills are elementary (even since the time a professor scoffed at my attempt to watercolor some plans in studio, and said, “I thought you knew what you were doing!”). I figured, there has got to be a way in Photoshop to use my pencil drawing and just color on top of it. I found this site┬áthat taught me the wonder of Multiply.

I scanned in my drawing and tweaked the exposure a little to make the background whiter and the pencil darker, but not dark enough that there wasn’t still variation in shading. Then I set the layer mode from Normal to Multiply, and the white parts just disappeared. I added another layer and started “painting” with the stylus. I used the regular brush to apply color and highlights/lowlights, and use the “Mixer Brush Tool” to blend stuff together. I would have liked the highlights to have a hard edge like watercolors, but I was ok with the way it turned out, especially since you can still see the pencil.

Here it is! Click for a larger version.

It’s too bad the picture didn’t get published on the internal news article, but at least each Fellow got a printed copy of it.