A very popular sport in America is basketball. A cartoon basketball player is a neat way of identifying this popular sport to younger audiences. This exercise will go through the process of drawing of a basketball player. It really isn't that difficult at all. Just be creative with the subject.
Sport products, popular media, and culture evolving around this sport is seen everywhere in America. The draw of this sport, I believe, comes from its fast-paced, high scoring, back and forth play style, where excitement comes from not knowing which team wins until the very last second.
Basketball is also popular all around the world as evident in its place in the Olympics. From North American, Europe, and even Asia, basketball is quickly becoming a household sport in many countries across these continents. There have been already many cartoons made about this sport in these countries.
The cartoon basketball player that I am drawing has a style unique to my own. Style is always subjective and is based on what the artists' own circumstances and environment that they want to portray. This cartooning guide is one of many ways to get it done. Follow along to see the process!
Popular position to show the cartoon basketball player could include shooting, dunking, dribbling, charging in, etc. All these different movements have its own special allure. It's hard to go wrong with picking a pose so long as the ball is within close proximity to the character.
The other factor is the jerseys. Generally speaking, the jerseys are identifiable using a few means: the top part has a muscle shirt design, it tucked into the shorts, have stripes around the collar and sleeve areas, and are fairly loose in modern day basketball.
The initial sketch will have the character and some bits of the jersey in place. The ball is just a quick circle mostly just to indicate position. Drawing wise, there are just a few very rough lines to indicate general posture but nothing concrete. Sometimes, it's easy to just draw and let the character come alive on its own.
I like to experiment with tools at this initial part. For example, round circles are done with the circular lasso tool where straight lines are done with the line tool. This is to just help shape major joints and limbs. There is even a little hint of perspective in the legs to show the action of running.
A very clean line drawing is the goal in this step. There are many ways to do this. My method will be using the smudge brush at 100% pressure to pull rogue lines into a complete line drawing. It also does the trick of erasing lines when I pull an area with empty pixels into the sketch.
Sometimes, the pulled lines will have hints of uneven transparency all over the drawing. One of the best ways to remedy this situation is to duplicate the line drawing over and over again to be merged together. This stacking effect eliminates uneven transparency.
The duplicating, stacking, and merging process will create lines that are too thick. This where I will switch to the erase tool to gently and manually erase into the lines to make it a bit more even. So far, the line drawing is coming out in good shape.
There is one element that I don't need to draw, though. To save time, the basketball is pulled from the Internet with a quick image search. Using existing resources from somewhere else to be manipulated into a composition is a common way to speed up the drawing process.
Having the line drawing done, the next step would be to think about how I should color the cartoon. Is there a favorite team I like? Do I want the cartoon basketball player to represent a certain culture or region for promotional purposes? Again, this is 100% a personal preference.
Once I have an idea of the colors I want to use, I will need to organize the colors into ways that work well with the composition. For example, would it be easier to have the colors on separate layers or in one single layer? One is good for easy color correction while the other speeds up the drawing process.
For the actual coloring, i use very flat colors without just to get an overall idea of the composition. I just have to be careful that the colors are within the boundaries of the line drawing. Large areas of color are filled in using the lasso tool or the quick selection tool. Of course, simple details will be added in later.
Flat colors have an advantage in printing materials as it keeps costs under control. The other advantage it that it creates clear color separation that is selectable in future editing. However, I am not concerned about this, which means I do have some liberty on adding some color gradients.
There are a few options when detailing my cartoon basketball player. Any smooth gradients are done with a round brush while any textures like clothing in the folds are done with a chalk brush. If I am shading directly on the drawing, I have to make sure that the layer is locked.
Locking the layer down prevents accidentally spilling the colors out of the boundaries of my color layers. The shadows are usually placed around the outline while lighter areas like the face are glazed in with a large round brush.
Another tool great for shading is the dodge and burn tools. These help lighten or darken pixels quickly. In Photoshop, I can also take advantage of clipping masks as an alternative method. With a new layer created and set to the 'soft light' blend mode, I use the paint brush to draw in shading without harming the original drawing.
After coloring, I will need to work on the jersey. Basketball clothing have stripes all around. I draw this in on a new clipping mask. Gradients on the basketball is done with a feature in Photoshop called 'layer styles'. This will generate a layer wide affect. Since the basketball is on a different layer, it doesn't affect the character.
While the character is coming along nicely, a cast shadow would be a nice addition. Rather that draw it, I duplicated the character layer and filled int with black. From there, I manipulate the perspective and slant it a bit to give the simple cartoon some realism.
The final steps would be to work on color correction and contrast. The funning thing with drawings going into a printing press is that the end result is usually a shade darker than the original drawing. This is easily done with the contrast and brightness settings in Photoshop. Overall, this cartoon was a fun and easy exercise to try.
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