Work In Progress: Grand Theft Muppets

This week we have an art breakdown of one of our comedic crossovers between GTA and the Muppets from our very own in-house artist Alex Pawlicki. Check out what he had to say about every step of this process and remember to share this post if you enjoyed!

Grand Theft Muppet was a larger more complicated piece for me to pull off. When faced with large complicated pieces, I break them down into smaller steps to make the end result easier to reach.

Step 1

This is my first step of the process. I did a super rough sketch to show my idea and basic composition. I mapped out what characters were going where and used this as my blueprints to the final piece. I worked small and fast on this one.

Step 2

Because my sketch was so rough, I wanted a cleaner sketch before moving forward with the piece. I created this more detailed, but still sketchy drawing. I was still working small on this (about half size) and just worried about figuring out what details I needed to include in the final.

Step 3

My sketch from step 2 was till too rough to go to inking the piece, so I needed to redraw the piece yet again, this time focusing on actual tight details. I needed a tighter drawing that I’d be able to ink on top of. You can see the light blue lines under my pencils which are parts of the sketch from step 2 which I physically drew on top of.

Step 4

Once my pencils were done, I had to ink this piece.. These are my inks. I concentrated on things like line weights and heavy areas of dark. I knew the final piece would have a colorful rendered look to it so I planned for those large areas that would be colored in. For this particular piece, I actually inked it twice. I got about half way through inking it the first time and hated what I had, so I followed my gut and threw out that file and started inking it again, making sure to fix what I didn’t like about my first go at inking.

Step 5

I don’t always have a clear picture of what kinds of colors I’m going to use and what shirt color I’m going to color on, this is where a rough color demo like this step comes in. I like to setup a 2×2 grid and test out my piece on multiple color shirts with different color pallets. I like to adjust the hue and saturation globally in photoshop to get the right color pallet. I also worry about color count and try to figure out how I’m going to achieve so many different colors with a limited number of inks. This step is my master plan for coloring.

Step 6

These are my flat colors. Flatting is the first step of the coloring process. I’m coloring in the large areas of flat color, including areas where colors are only achievable by overlaying a transparent color over another color. It’s important to do this step cleanly the first time before moving forward as it reduces my cleanup on the final piece. Also, mapping out these colors allows me to select and mask large areas later on so I can focus on coloring and render details without worrying about coloring outside the lines, which in the end makes for a cleaner piece of art.

Step 7

I am almost done at this step. I’ve rendered my characters and effects. I’ve worked transparently with a variety of real effect brushes to get the effects and styles I want. At this point in the process, I thought I was just about done but needed another set of opinions as it’s easy to get tunnel vision on a piece with this many working parts. So, I showed my art to Nathan (our other in-house art genius) and Paul (our art director/ the boss-man) and asked for their opinions. They gave me some compositional pointers which lead to the 8th and final step…

Step 8 FINAL

Taking their advice to heart, I added another explosion to the piece. Because I work on an organized list of layers, it’s easy to work behind the art I’ve already created without it interfering with art on layers above it. I freehand drew the new explosion and rendered out its brilliant colors as well as the glowing effect it adds behind the artwork. I also zoomed way in on the piece and cleaned up any overlapping issues and coloring outside of the lines to make life easier for our pre-production people. At this point, I can sit back and have a good sigh of relief because I’m done.
In total, I believe this piece took more than 11 hours of my time to create. It was a huge and daunting project that I procrastinated a bit on starting as the size of it scared me a little. But, when you break things into smaller steps that are easier to do, it becomes possible to make something complicated like this attainable.


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