Process: Victor Melendez


Today we have a process post by the talented Victor Melendez. He was nice enough to share some insights into his digital and drawing process. Without further adieu I’ll let Victor take it away!

This is the way I usually work, it might not be the most efficient or the way most people work, but it works for me. It’s basically sketch-ink-scan-clean-color.

Hopefully you can get something out of it and maybe implement some tips to your own work. I did this illustration for a blog called La Nueva Escuela (The New School) from Mexico. It’s an image of an Organillero from Mexico City.

1. I usually start with a sketch and then I refine it, depending on how I want the linework to look I decide whether I ink it or not. It’s definitely easier to clean up ink rather than pencil. For this specific illustration I did a quick sketch to figure out the rough form and proportion.


2. After I’m happy with my initial sketch I refine it. In this case I thought the head was too big and too cartoony. Although I was going for the big head look, it didn’t convince me, so I made some changes.

3. Once I draw the illustration with all the elements I want, the sketch is ready to be inked. I use Micron pens, I really like them, they are easy to work with and come in many different sizes. Sometimes I use tracing paper and draw on it placing it on top of my initial pencil sketch, that way I don’t have to erase the pencil. This time I didn’t, I just went ahead and inked the pencil sketch because the sketch wasn’t drawn too hard on the paper.

4. With the drawing already inked, I’m ready to clean it up. I bring it into Photoshop as grayscale, usually at 300 dpi depending on what it will be used for. The easiest way to clean it up is by increasing the contrast on the drawing. I do this by adjusting the Levels. Bring out the whites and the blacks.

5. Once the image is pretty much black and white (as little grey as possible) I use the brush tool with black and white to fix the small details. I use the black for drawing and the white for “erasing.” This method is easier for me rather than using the actual eraser because you can toggle between black and white by pressing “x” and the brush stays with the same setting.

6. Now I’m ready to get the linework “out” and start coloring. An easy way to select the lines is by using the Select Color Range option. Since up to this point I’ve only been using black and white, the Color Range works perfectly. Just select the black with the eyedropper.

7. With the black selected, just duplicate the layer(cmd+J) and convert the document to either RGB or CMYK depending on your needs. In this case it will be digital, so I made it RGB.

The way I color is fairly simple, I just select what I want to color and create solid color layers, that way i can shift the color later on.

8. The image is now colored. Now I add the details. Color accents to create some dimension.

9. Lastly, I add some texture to the illustration. I get my textures from scanning cardboard boxes, kraft paper, specialty papers, photographs of textured walls, etc. You can play around with the textures, I just did a quick multiply because I liked the tint, but sometimes it’s fun to do overlays and screens with the texture desaturated.

Check out more of Victor’s work around the web: portfolio, blog, twitter, and dribble.

  1. Ashley

    I just wanted to throw it out there that I LOOOOVE this process series. I’m trained in fine art painting but have recently started to try my hand at digital illustration and this series is incredibly helpful. Please keep it up :)

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