Awaiting the Dawn - Artist's Progress by Gretchen Bartz

Gretchen Bartz is a SketchBook artist who comes from a background in traditonal media She created this amazing piece to contrIbute to the Art For Hope project. Purchase a print today and proceeds go directly to BuildChange. Tiger reference from Rob Bixby, via Flickr, Attribution 2.0 generic license

 I like to start with a background layer, and a dark base color layer for the subject that follows the basic outer outline of the reference. The base color in this case is a black. Not a preselect black, but a custom black from the color wheel.
I think this black was the darkest red value. I then lock this layer’s transparency. Next, I used small sized charcoal tool with medium opacity to start laying in some basic colors. My goal when starting my digital journey has been to use as little computer assistance as possible, so I select my own colors from the color wheel, rather than sampling from the photo. The eyes are a separate layer with locked transparency. This helps when adding the light and shade with airbrush, so it is even and I can work right up to the edge of the eyes.


After the charcoal tool, I use a small size round blender on high opacity and apply it in a back and forth motion through the black and orange markings, making sure they follow the stroke of the fur. This gives more of a realistic look and weaves the colors into each other, as fur would do.


Moving down, I put in the nose and whiskers. The whiskers are on a separate layer, so I can still work on the tiger layer without disturbing them. Whiskers are just about the only feature I draw with the pencil tool, and when I lock their transparency, I can airbrush over certain parts of them to add the color variations that whiskers have. Also, the tips can be tapered and made less sharp by using a soft eraser on low opacity (with the layer transparency unlocked).


I did some more blocking in and some refining of features. A large sized airbrush on low opacity can be used to change some of the color and value without disturbing the stroke of the charcoal. I changed the background to a cool green with blue in airbrush to complement the reddish orange on the tiger and to give the look of light filtered through foliage. The shoulder side of the cat is airbrushed to give that fuzzy receding look of distance, keeping the focus on the face.

I unlocked the transparency of the tiger layer so I could pull out some hairs and soften the edges of the face. Again, here, I used the small blender brush, at high opacity, so it could really pull the color into fine hair. A few long ones are pencil, but then soft eraser used at the tips.


Working on the cheek fur, I cut a piece of the reference photo for viewing. Having just a piece of the photo really helps when I have to work zoomed in and need to see my reference at the same time.


Check out the final 'Awaiting the Dawn' and purchase prints to support Nepal.


Draw Manga in Autodesk SketchBook Pro

Our friend Ippus made this adorable bunny girl in SketchBook Pro.


Give it a watch & get inspired on how to draw manga & anime style. Try SketchBook for free for 15 days across all your devices - download desktop & activate your membership trial now!


Creating 'Ray of Hope' by Emily Fay Lunn


Emily Fay Lunn is an Editorial Assistant at Gollancz, working on the SF Gateway. She describes herself as a freelance artist, avid reader, and aspiring crazy cat lady. 


Here's some of the planning stages for the picture I did for charity project ART FOR HOPE: NEPAL. I’ve added a bit of commentary to the images in the photoset for those interested.

The prompt was “strength, hope and rebirth” and at the start I really wanted to emphasise the rebirth aspect, hence my initial ideas with the seedling plant and the sunlight. In the end that changed somewhat and I ended up drawing a lot of my inspiration from the flag of Nepal, with the sun and moon motifs and the symbolism of the colours, but this is how I got there! 

Because this was such a big project for me, typically I spent most of my time before the deadline panicking and procrastinating. It was a self-destructive cycle that I’m unfortunately prone to falling into and meant my early attempts were complete false starts. I knew what I wanted to achieve, but I wasted so much energy worrying about it not being good enough rather than cracking on that I made everything 1000% more stressful. 

In the end I had to sit myself down and have a stern word, asking myself what I’m really good at (ridiculously long hair and flowing dresses), and to use that as a starting point. In the end, I’m glad I scrapped my first few attempts despite being like, three days away from the deadline. I ended up with a much stronger picture for it.

Attempt one, not very successful - it didn't convey what I wanted and was far too stiff. Got as far as inking before I scrapped it. Then I started to panic because...deadline.

After faffing around for ages I developed a more solid idea, but sketching it out digitally wasn't working for me - again, it lacked the life and energy I wanted to convey. Still panicking.

In the end I scribbled on paper after asking myself what I'm REALLY best at, which is ridiculous hair and long flowing lines. Much happier with the initial sketch.

Instead if re-sizing and diving straight in with the inks, I worked on a thumbnail canvas (420x320px) - this really helped keep the energy of the sketch, which I tend to lose with digital work.

Still working on the small canvas, I planned out the colours. Initially I wanted a really warm feel, like the picture was bathed in sunlight.


Slowly, slowly getting there! I was more happy with the colour balance in this version. Tip for those using Photoshop: you can bring your SketchBook file in as a PSD. Then try Image > Adjustments > Variations to see different color effects, and choose the best one.

Eventually the background colours changed quite dramatically, but the early planning stages using a small canvas were crucial, particularly for preserving the flow of the pose/lines.  

Check out the final 'Ray of Hope' and purchase prints to support Nepal.


Update to SketchBook: Improvements, Brushes, and 15 Day Trial

 If you're using membership or a mobile version of Autodesk SketchBook it's time to update your app! We've got some goodies, changes, bug fixes, and upgrades in there for you.

Here's an overview of what's new:

Back in October, we introduced membership with three levels. Seeing how it worked in our users hands these last six months we've decided to merge the Starter and Essentials memberships together. Going forward, we'll only have two levels of membership.

What does this mean for you? If you were Starter, you'll find you now have new brushes, layer options, and tools. If you were already Essentials or Pro you'll stay exactly the same.


 Not a SketchBook member yet? With this new release you can try before you buy for 15 days. Download the desktop version of SketchBook to start your trial membership.

What does it get you? Access the Pro tools across all your devices- from desktop, tablet, to mobile. Take your sketches on the go- don't stop drawing just because you're away from your desktop.

During your trial we've got all sorts of tutorials and goodies to teach you how to use the special features like layers, custom brushes, advanced selection, perspective guides and Flipbook.

Get started today - download the Desktop version to activate your trial membership.

Glow brush: This spiffy little brush makes your chrome glimmer and your fire smolder. It's kinda like having the 'Glow' blending mode in brush form. Use it sparingly, or go nuts and make your artwork sparkle.


Inking Brush: This brush has a special attribute applied to the stroke that controls opacity evenly. You'll see your opacity doesn't overlap on contiguous stokes. What does that mean for your art? Well, check it out below compared to a normal SketchBook brush and see for yourself. 


Got a bluetooth pen, like the Adonit Jot, Pencil by FiftyThree, or Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus?

Update your app for better performance across the board with enhanced tracking, palm rejection, and under the hood tweaks to improve your experience. There's even a whole bevy of bug fixes that hopefully you won't notice- cause everything should work super smooth. 

We hope you enjoy these improvments- happy drawing! Check out this vieo to learn how to activate your trial:



Membership version 



Perpetual users - (non-membership) we haven't forgotten you! Your update is coming soon. Stay tuned!



July Hero Challenge- Lois Van Baarle


The world under the surface is vast, deep and mysterious. It speaks to our imaginations - sometimes it's presented as calm and tranquil, sometimes nightmarish and terrifying, sometimes vibrant and colorful, sometimes surreal and dream-like. What is your interpretation of the deep blue?

For this challenge, explore the idea of a world under water. What kind of creatures live there? Is it beautiful, dangerous, or both?

Lois Van Baarle aka Loish


How do you participate in the Hero Challenge? Just follow these steps: 

Click to enlarge.

Download this, rise to the challenge, and draw in SketchBook! 

 Sign up for DeviantArt, if you're not already a member! All the fun is happening there.

Join the official Autodesk SketchBook group

Download the prompt and draw your image (left) . This month the challenge is to conveying motion in a still image. 

Draw your original artwork on the canvas using Autodesk SketchBook.

Add your entry to the DeviantArt Autodesk SketchBook group!



At the end of July, Lois will pick the pieces that met the challenge the best, and give feedback on why they hit the mark. We'll feature that art right here for everyone to see!



About the artist:

“I've been drawing since the day I could hold a pencil, and started teaching myself to draw digitally in 2003. I studied animation at the Utrecht School of the Arts and, upon graduating, started working as a freelance illustrator and animator, although I primarily think of myself as a digital artist.

I've always had a weak spot for mermaids, sea creatures, underwater settings and the dream-like floating effect that underwater imagery gives. It's a theme that I always return to in some way or other through the years!” - Lois