Donut Drop Ranch (Color)

Updated: Apr 21

Wrapped up the final color version of this private commission, Donut Drop Ranch.

(Check out the original ink version and learn more about the inspiration here.)

This was such a surprising project to work on, as I was initially resistant to doing anything that strayed too far from the style of art on my Symbiotic piece. At the time, I wanted to make that approach the focus of all my new work, and I was simply in a different headspace than I needed to be for Donut Drop Ranch.

But once I got rolling I thoroughly enjoyed this cleaner, more open and friendly style, and I was especially excited to tackle color since I knew I could cut loose with some more saturated, candy-like colors.

As I mentioned in the post for the line art, there is no deeper meaning or symbolism happening here, it a deliberately absurd and whimsical piece meant to generate a sense of wonder and joy.

Color work on this one began in Photoshop lassoing out each segment and creating a dedicated layer with all the "flat" colors. Here's how that looks before any rendering happens.

Once I had the flats sorted out and the colors how I liked them, I began pulling out each segment one at a time and gently sculpting it with highlights and shadows, visually directing everything back to that massive sun in the sky in the upper left.

Most of that work involved hitting the segment (for example, a character's head) with a gentle gradient and then choosing a select few places to add shadows. I also stuck with the strong edge highlight technique I've been using on other recent pieces, including Stinker. I feel like I've gotten into a great groove with that approach where it's consistent, quick (y'know...relatively), and gets the results I'm looking for.

Lastly, I went back over the art and added lighting effects, for example on the pistols, and also color-adjusted the line art to a deep maroon color and added highlights to the line art in key places, such as on the outline of the sun and nearby objects.

I'm pretty excited at how it turned out, as well as the possibility of doing more in this vein, but more importantly, the client was happy with the result, and that's what matters most to me.

Time will tell how much further I explore this direction, but for now, this was a nice change of pace and added a bit of variety as I explore a specific style to hone in on consistently going forward.

Also, hope you enjoyed last week's blog post about how Instagram Likes Are Killing Your Motivation to Make Art. If you missed it, hit that link and let me know what you think of it. I will have a new post up in that same vein next week, likely the first of many discussing art school...

Cheers until then!