Preparing food is an art form itself. A cartoon chef is a fun representation of this important profession. This guide look at the creative process and the drawing tools needed to make an awesome looking chef cartoon.
To start off, visualize what the cartoon chef will look like cognitively before drawing a single line. Word associations are a great way to get the ball rolling. What words can be used to help describe someone with this profession?
What is the education and experience level of the character? Is he or she a master chef, a station chef, or an assistant chef? What about appearance? Are there specific types of uniforms that can show each type of level?
How about the kitchen environment? How is the food cooked? What type of food will the cartoon chef cook based on the available ingredients and how will it be displayed to the audience? Once an idea is established, the first line can be drawn.
With a common chalk brush, begin sketching out the cartoon chef on a new layer that is separate from the background layer. The purpose is to do a rough draft of a concept art. Again, ideas should have been already noted down or visually thought out. Everything else just requires the act of drawing.
To start, a tall hat is common item found on a chef's uniform. However, since a cartoon is a distortion of human form, some adjustments may be necessary. For starters, it does not have to be that tall. So long as it conforms with the head, then it's enough.
Being a food connoisseur, this chef likes to eat. The face and body is a happy medium that is neither too skinny or too plump. The chef is also proud of the food being cooked and is showing off an easy to draw delicious whole chicken.
To finish off the sketch, the posture is straight and shows confidence. Likewise, the uniform is neat and tidy and the hair is short to keep the food clean. The proportions are distorted in a way to give focus to the smiling face.
Any cartoons will have strong black outlines. This next step will use clean up the rough sketch into a well defined line drawing to be colored in. First, it is best to darken and thicken any existing lines the rough sketch.
Thickening and darkening the sketch lines can be done in multiple ways. An method would be to just duplicate the transparent layer over and over gain. With each duplication, the lines will stack to become thicker and thicker. After the lines are thick enough, merge all the layers together.
With a bit of patience, switch to the eraser tool and start defining the cartoon chef by erasing into the thick black line to form the body, face, and any other intricate details. Draw in any additional lines whenever necessary to complete the picture.
Another tip that can be used are any available warping options. In Photoshop, go to edit > transform > warp after selecting part of the line drawing to move the lines around without redrawing any of it. It's quick and effective way to adjust the entire cartoon in this meticulous step.
Now that the black outline is done, it is time to add some color. Cartooning will require a layer of flat colors that can be built upon. It is recommended to do this layer underneath the line drawing as any imperfections between color swatches can be hidden by the black outlines.
While a chef typically wears white, it is not a good idea to have it filled with a pure white color. Instead, use a hue that approaches a light grey. The areas that should be filled in is the uniform and the hat. To break up having too much of the same color, the pants can be colored in a different hue.
For the face, hands, and the chicken, go for a dark washed hue. Again, this is only for the underlying flat colors. Depending on the overall look so far and the artistic requirements, it is possible to stop at this step.
That is, sometimes, flat colors are all that is needed for a project to save on printing costs or to have a certain visual appeal through simplicity. In this demonstration though, let's take it a bit further and add some more realistic shading.
To make sure color doesn't go all over the place, always check the box in Photoshop called 'preserve transparency' to allow coloring to be confined to a shape. In this case, lock the flat colored layer underneath the line drawing.
Simple two tone shading involves selecting a color that is brighter than the current flat colors. For example, the hat can be colored in with a hue that is closer to white. The technique simple involves dabbing in where the light will hit. The remaining flat hue will become simple shadows.
More complicated shading will involve using a gradient. A chalk brush with pressure sensitivity turned on can create different levels of the a given color. Again, it is no different in that it's always best to dab in where the light will hit.
The third level is airbrushing. The particular style of shading involves using a soft round brush and is the most complicated type of shading. Using the existing rough gradient shading, using a soft brush will blend in the gradients nicely.
It can also be helpful to reference real skin texture to help guide the painting process. The end result is a nice mixture of hard edges and soft color as seen in the final picture. How far the shading process can go will depend on the artist's individual skills, comfort level, and parameters set by the patron of the art piece.
The end result is a finished picture of a cartoon chef that is ready to be printed out in a hard copy or can be sent out digitally to anyone. This is the flexibility available when drawing with a computer drawing pad.