For most bases I make, I need to start with a base picture to get the proportions correct. Some people are supremely gifted & can make amazing bases without using a photo reference, but I am not one of them!
If you have a webcam or digital camera, taking pictures of yourself is the best way to get the pose you want. Most of my recent bases, including all the Mina's, were made in this way.
If you don't have access to a camera, catalogue sites are a great place to find images to use as bases. Some that I use regularly are:
|1. Open the image that you are using as your base.
|2. I always draw my heads seperately, so I'm going to crop the base image down to the bare minimum. You may need to Zoom in on the image for this. Click on the Crop tool.
|3. Drag a box around the area of the image you want to keep. Double-click within the box & everything outside will be cropped off.
|4. Now we need to resize the image to the size we want the base to be. My regular (prep) bases are usually around 110 pixels high when headless, my Mina's are about 130. You can make your bases however big or small you want them to be.
Go to Image/Resize. Under Pixel Size set the required height. As long as the Maintain aspect ratio box is checked, PSP will automatically set the width.
Make sure that the Resize Type is set to Smart Size as it is the cleanest way of resizing this type of image.
|5. Create a new layer named White and Flood Fill it white. Hide this layer for the moment.
|6. Create a new layer above White named Base.
|7. You now need to choose the colours you want your base to be. This is the standard palette that I use, although there are some variations for my Mina's & Twinkles. You are welcome to use this or one of your own choice.
I nearly always use a 6 colour palette as I find the shading to work better
Whichever you choose, select the darkest shade as the outline colour.
|8. Using the Paintbrush tool with a width of 1, trace over the outline of the base image. Don't worry if it looks a complete mess now, this is normal!
If you can't tell from the base where a certain element is (a leg under a dress, for example) draw approximately where you think it should be.
|9. Now, un-hide the White layer so you can get a better look at your outline. Yes, I have a lot of work ahead of me ;)
|10. Here's a secret to how I neaten up the lines - I use the smudge brush! It is so much easier than switching back & forth between the Paintbrush & the Eraser.
Click on the Retouch tool & use the settings shown above.
|11. Make the outline 1 pixel thin at all points using the smudge brush. Push stray pixels out the way & elongate lines where required. If you find this tricky, you can use the Paintbrush & the Eraser, but this really is quicker.
|12. Your base should now look something like this. If you Zoom out often, you should be able to see any "thickening" caused by a 2 pixel thick line.
|13. The base is looking better, but still fairly rubbish.
I have high-lighted some of the worst areas with red circles to show you what I mean.
|14. I have started working on the right leg. As you can see, I've elongated 1 pixel long lines near the knee area to create a more streamlined shape on the calf & thigh. I also hid the white layer to look at the foot again & try & touch that up a little.
|15. Still working on the leg, I have added some hip & made the thigh slightly bigger. I am still not happy with the foot, but I am leaving it for now.
|16. I've started on the second leg.
The bottom of the leg was far too thin, so I've made it slightly thicker. I have also change the shape of the foot & moved it towards the left.
|17. To try & show the importance of elongating & streamlinging the lines, this is the leg before...
|18. ...& this is it with basically the same shape, but a more flowing outline. It is difficult to see this close up, so it is very important that you zoom out frequently & see how the base is looking.
|19. I have found a way to fix the right foot & have smoothed out the inner thighes. Feet & the tops of the legs are my very worst parts to do...
|20. Now I'm going to do some work on the left arm.
|21. I have smoothed out the arm, but the hand still needs some work.
|22. I have taken away a few pixels that represented the "thumb" & the hand looks a lot clean
|23. Now I'm going to do some work on the left arm.
It didn't need as much work as I thought, I just lowered the shoulder, made the hand a bit bigger & re-shaped the elbow a little.
|24. I'm now just making the final adjustments...
|25. & I'm fairly happy with how that looks.
|26. Select your second lightest shade & Flood Fill the interior of the base.
|27. If you like, you can create a new layer to put the shading on, or just keep it on the same as the outline, whichever you prefer.
With the second darkest colour, shaded any areas that would be very dark. Don't over do this colour.
|28. & Choose the third darkest colour & continue the shading. I'm not very good at realistic shading, but I try to imagine the light coming in from a particular angle & casting the shadows in the opposite direction. In this example, I am trying to keep the shading to the right-hand side as much as possible.
|29. Continue in this way with the fourth colour of the palette.
|30. Now, using the lightest shade, add some subtle highlights where the light would catch the base.
|31. Your base should be looking something like this so far.
|32. Now we need to increase the canvas size to add the head. Go to Image/Canvas Size & increase the size of the canvas to include the head.
|33. Create a new layer named Head & draw in a head using the darkest colour. If you are making a prep sized base, please feel free to use my base heads as examples.
|34. Shade the head in the same way that the body was shaded. Unless you are making a particularly big base, leave out the second darkest colour as it is too dark for the face.
|35. Your base should be looking something like this now.
|36. To make the base ready for use, hide the background & white layer so that only the base layers are visible.
|37. Now go to Layers/Merge/Merge Visible or right-click on one of the visible layers on the layers palette & select Merge/Merge Visible from the menu.
|38. Press CTRL+C to copy this merged layer. Press CTRL+V to paste it as a new image.
|39. Save this new image as a Paint Shop Pro Image file to retain the transparency.
|Your base is now ready for use!
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