Horary! The Shojo Beat Girl is finished. Glittery little tears fall from my eyes and flitter through the air like Dandelion seeds. It's so magical.
Last time I mentioned this picture, I discussed waking in the middle of the night, fixed on a costume design. What I didn't mention was my idea for the skirt. I wanted each pleat on the girl's skirt to depict a panel from a manga running in Shojo Beat-- thus representing the character’s interest in manga.
I was concerned that using manga panels might look too loud or tacky, but from the first pleat, it looked perfect-- color, pattern, and texture, all in one package. Even the magenta ink used for the printed pages, was exactly right color for my image palette. After the success with the skirt, I used another manga page for the patterning in the obi. It was on message with the picture's theme, and looked as good as any pattern I could create or source from elsewhere.
For the background painting, I was inspired by the artwork of Ein Lee. You can find her DeviantArt page (featuring brilliantly ethereal anime paintings) here: http://einlee.deviantart.com/
Ein likes to use a program called Paint Tool Sai for painterly watercolor effects. Sai is a limited, low overhead, Painter knock-off, but to its credit, it manages to steals some of the best aspects of Painter. Also, the app is only like 2MB. You can download it here: http://sai.detstwo.com/sai/
Before long, I was futzing around with the watercolor tool. Originally, I thought I'd color the character art in Sai, but after using Photoshop to paint for the last two years, the watercolor tool seemed frustratingly uncontrollable. I fooled around in the background, washing colors around, and making little designs. Eventually I tried making a little Sumi-e painting; it would tie in with the Japan-ai theme expressed in the character art. A tree appeared and a stray line became the silhouette of an ibis. Somehow, this seemed like just the backdrop I was looking for.
What proceeded was a day of painting in Sai and Photoshop. The picture took time, but I’m pleased with the result, so I can't complain.
Sketched and finalized on Strathmore 400 Series sketch paper, and then painted in Sai and Photoshop CS2. It took about two days from concept to completion.