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Copic Sketch Card Step-By-Step

A few people have been asking me the process I go through when I draw a sketch card, so I thought I would show you a step by step…

This card is part of my contribution to Viceoroy’s ‘The Deep’ Sketch Card set. You can see more of my contributions on my my Gallery page. This particular card if of a Flame Angel Fish.

Firstly I begin by gathering reference for the fish and deciding on my layout. I then draw the basic outline faintly with a blue line pencil. Once I am happy with the pencil outline, I go into inks and start adding the shape and details that I want to be inked in black.




After I am happy with my inks, I erase the pencils and go over any points of the card that might have grayed with the erasing. I also add a thick holding line around the image (this is a personal style preference more than anything). I then leave the card for an hour or so to make sure that the ink has dried completely. The Viceroy Card stock was gorgeous and thick and held the ink very well, but as you can never be sure how different company’s stocks will hold, it is always best to leave it to dry just in case (and have a tester card for experimenting).


Once the ink has dried I can start laying down the base colour. I start with the lightest colour which will eventually show the highlights on the image. As you can see here, the ink still spread in with the Copics even after leaving the inks to dry for a few hours as the stock was so thick and you always have to be careful that the alcohol won’t re-activate the ink (this is waterproof ink, but it’s still always worth caution).


I then choose the next colour in the spectrum and start to blend it into the darker points. Once I have blocked in the darker colour, I go over its edges with the lighter colour I used previously to blend it into the new colour. You can skip this step if you would prefer to stick to graphical cell shading, but I was going for more realistic shadows with this piece. You can repeat this process until the image is all set and shaded.



Once the primary image is finished, I can add small details like scale shadows, eye shadows, highlights on the scales with white gel pen etc. When this is done I start doing the background (which luckily in this case is a nice simple ocean). Much like the fish, I start with the lightest point and add layers of colour in gradients going down to the darkest point, blending as I progress to each stage.


The last stage for me is all about personal preference. It completely depends on your own style. I personally like highlighting the main image by outlining it with white gel pen. I also add extra highlights and bubbles. And finally the image is finished and I can sign it! (For some reason, I never sign it until it is complete – superstitious weirdo that I am).


So there you have it!  Sketch Cards tend to vary in how long they take to draw depending on the intricacy of the character/creature, but also the layout. Even though they are only 2.5″ by 3.5″, they still require as much preparation and work as any larger pieces.

Don’t forget to check out my gallery for more sketch card samples.