One step at a time. Over the past month and a half I have been working hard on a new series of illustrations based on the classic series Super Mario Bros. I have titled the set Mario’s Super World and it is a compilation of some of my favorite characters and levels from the history of the series. The illustration tips it’s hat particularly to Super Mario World for the SNES in inspiration of both characters and design. For example, my Goombas are the round little acorn-like creatures as seen in the SNES title. NOT the typical mushroom shaped characters we are used to seeing in today’s Mario titles.
As I begin wrapping up this series I thought it would be fun to show you some behind the scenes action of how I created all of this. All of the art you see was illustrated in Adobe Photoshop using a Cintiq 22HD graphic tablet. I hope you enjoy the behind the scenes look at Mario’s Super World, and please let me know what you think of the art!
Everything begins with line work like you see here on the left. I pick a dark grey base (not quite black, that’s too harsh) for the outlines of my characters. From here I place a layer behind my outlines and begin painting. I create solid base colors first before adding my shading and light sourcing in.
I create each character in their own separate file with no backgrounds. This way I can access each character’s file individually and place them in the environment that I will create later. It’s very much like putting stickers in a sticker book. I am able to place each character in one at a time and move them around freely on their own layer until I have them exactly where I want them.
As I begin to populate the scene I use environmental and dimensional effects such as blurring and color fading to make the characters in the background seem further off in the distance. If I were to just shrink them in size but keep them as in focus as the foreground characters it would be too jarring. I want the foreground characters to really stand out and be crisp. So everyone who is in the background gets a gaussian blur applied to them. The intensity of that effect varies depending on their placement in the scene.
I also make sure that the light source is uniform and that the colors compliment each other. I don’t want anything to clash too much. While this is a colorful scene, there also needs to be some balance in saturation, so I tweak everything until all elements feel balanced. I also go over the scene once more and make minor character placement adjustments so that not one element of the art board is overpowered.
It’s all about balance and making sure all the assets compliment each other. If I have too many characters in one spot, I either move them or delete them altogether. There’s no sense forcing something in if it’s not going to look right. A perfect example of this is how I ended up not using the Chain Chomp that I created. I found that once I got to him, there was just no place for him to go that would benefit the drawing. So he didn’t make the cut.
Once everything is in place I slap my signature on there and call it a day! One down and three more to go. My Mario’s Super World series will in the end feature the Grass level as shown above in addition to an Underwater world, Ghost House, and Bowser’s Castle. These will get printed out as posters for our convention appearances where people will be able to grab one of these for their very own. In addition to that you can visit my Redbubble Store and get this art on anything from T-Shirts to Coffee Mugs.
Also if you would like to see more of this process and all the art I’m creating for the other worlds for my Mario project, follow me over at my Facebook page! I hope you’ve enjoyed this look into how I make my art. Feel free to ask any questions or leave your feedback in the comments section below!