Skelanimals were designed by Mitchell Bernal about 5 or 6 years ago and are well-received in quite a few countries. So for the contest with his interview on Sketchoholic, participants created artwork of his cute dead animals. I really hadn’t any idea about what I wanted to draw for this contest so I mucked around in Colors! to get some idea together. Eventually, an image came to my mind, where a group of Skelanimal friends are having some sort of reunion with their ghosty counterparts. Here is the initial sketch that I had on the DS before I got tired of painting on the tiny screen:

(Click here to watch painting process) The new version of Colors! for the DS (released sometime October 2010) allows you to export the image to a much larger size than before, so I got it out at the highest resolution it would support, as a 2048 x 1536 png. (Side note: the round brush strokes are very apparent in the painting at this size)

After bringing it into photoshop, the first thing I did was to change the it to a print-quality resolution and size (300 dpi and around 16″ by 12″) It was kind of annoying that the aspect ratio isn’t really a standard paper size but I suppose I could crop it later.

The first thing I did was refine the background by just creating a new layer and painting over the original. After a while I found I was painting over the Skelanimals so I created another layer and cleaned up shapes on them by painting on top. And from there, I also created layers for the fire, the ghosts, the foreground foliage, and finally the glowing orbs and other bits of orange lighting – all the while just painting on top of what I had. After some final adjustments with the Levels, this is the finished piece:

For this painting, I used a brush set created by fox-orian, which can be found on his deviantART page over here.

I got one vote on the contest, a shout-out (Mr. Bernal mentioned that he liked it!), and a harsh reality check. During the interview, Bobby Chiu asked Mitchell what kind of advice he would give to aspiring artists, and he basically told us to quit if we’re not good and get another job. Being an artist is really really hard, he says. For example if you’re going to be a concept artist, well tough luck because Bobby Chiu is better than you; Bobby Chiu is going to get the job. When we’re pursuing art as a career, we had better be damn good – better than our teachers because they are who we compete against for the jobs!