Christmas character design challenge: a festive orc – part 2


Last time we used lines in order to create our orc character, this time I want to start with shapes in order to get our sleigh. We will then take our favorite idea and create a quick 3D model from it using ZBrush or any 3D software you prefer. This will be the base for our neat line drawing. We‘ll draw the big shapes first and then take our time and add a few extra details in order to add some Christmas-flavor to our design.

final render christmas themed illustration design sleigh orc

Our final result

Exploring shapes

In order to get our perfect sleigh we need to incorporate both the Christmas theme as well as orc shape-language.  We start by trying a few different shapes and compare them. Here I try out some playful swirls and combine them with cracks, spikes, and horns. In the end I decide for number three, because it has all the elements I was looking for but without any unnecessary extras. Readability is always key, especially when having in mind that we are planning to fill our sleigh with presents and decoration.

shape ideas rendering modelling 2d thumbnail designs

Try out a few different ideas and compare them until you find a fitting design.

Building a model

Once you have your design, take it to your favorite 3D software and use it as a reference in order to create a quick model. I used ZModeler in ZBrush because I wanted to use this chance to improve my own skills in ZBrush and built a low-poly model. There is no need for subdivisions. Having a low amount of polygons gives us clear reference points we can use when drawing on top later.

zmodeler zbrush 3d modelling rendering subdivisions polygons

Using ZModeler it only took me half an hour in order to get a neat preview of my sleigh.

Drawing the sleigh

Back in Photoshop I take the image I rendered in ZBrush and draw on top. While already adding a few details I still try to keep the shapes of the elements as simple as possible. Also note how I kept some of the angular shapes from the low poly-model in order to get a more interesting feel.

sleigh drawing sketch render clean readable 2d design

While drawing the lines on top of your rendering try to keep your design clean and readable.

Adding details

I always try to work from big to small. Now the lines of the basic elements are done and the fun part can begin: Adding the detail. You don‘t have to construct the perspective for every single ribbon but take your time for each of them. Because we already defined the large elements, drawing one of the ribbons perspective wrong won‘t affect the bigger piece by providing a wrong reference point.

Christmas sleigh decorating presents large elements 2d illustration

Adding the decoration will turn our vehicle into a proper Christmas sleigh.

Adding values

Before we add colors in our next tutorial I want you to take a moment and think about values. We have a lot of different small elements here and while our first priority is to make it look cool, our second is to keep it readable. Try a few different things and see if you can manage keeping different elements separate by assigning different values to them.

Next time we will add colors and create a presentation for our concept.

christmas sleigh rendering sketch fine line rendering 2d

As a final step we try to come up with a set of values that will help us keeping elements of our sleigh visually separated.

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