Digital Painting Tutorial: Garbage Pail Kids – Street Fighter Blanka

Here’s another digital painting tutorial on the creation of a Garbage Pail Kids character in Photoshop. This time: Blanka from Street Fighter 2!

Garbage Pail Kids - Blanka painting

In a previous digital painting tutorial I showed you how to create a Garbage Pail Kid using photoshop and based off a hand drawn pencil sketch. This time I do the same but go further into the paint detailing for a full-colour, brightly lit GPK scene in the classic GPK style!

Finished Product:

Garbage Pail Kids Blanka Street Fighter 2In this tutorial I made far more progress shots than I usually do because I really wanted to see the full evolution of the artwork (as you’ll see below).

The reason for this is two fold. Firstly it’s good to be able to show people every step of the process – something we all appreciate being able to see in an artist’s blog. Secondly it can help relieve some anxiety in future projects of a similar nature. For example, if I’m stuck during a painting, I can refer back to a ‘before and after’ from any two points within the progress shots and remind myself that dramatic improvements are possible! This helps with motivation and frustration.

Tutorial Overview:

So I have my 59 progress shots which I’ve converted into an animated gif of 2 seconds per frame. I normally just go with 1 second per frame but I wanted people to have a chance to digest what changes took place in each progression.

I’ll let the gif do the talking but mention a few stumbling blocks along the way. Otherwise I’d have a long ass page full of images to annotate and you’d have to scroll up and down to see the progress.

Animated gif will appear below…

Starting Point:

Street Fighter 2 Blanka - GPK

It’s definitely worth mentioning the starting point because I myself can hardly believe how far it progressed from sketch to finished product. This is funny because the process from start to finish never fails to startle me.

Anyway, as you can see the early sketches were very primitive. So never fear if your initial concepts are pretty lackluster, they’re just starting points.

Garbage Pail Kid Blanka digital paintingThis is the somewhat cleaned-up line work. So the progress from pencil to Photoshop line art is quite a large step in itself, before we’ve even laid down the paint. The main difference here besides the overall clean-up is the change of the hand. It didn’t quite work in the sketch but thanks to the eraser tool I could plant that hand on the floor and make the whole pose look more solid.

The Actual Steps:

(note: by the time you get to this gif it probably won’t be playing from the start so either wait or refresh)

Garbage Pail Kids Digital Painting TutorialThere’s 59 steps here in total and the process took a couple of weeks with a couple of hours here and there as opposed to solid days of work. I tried to get the gif to match up to the final quality and not look ‘giffy’ so forgive the noise, it’s on its highest settings.

Progress Notes:

As usual, research is key. I have my own GPK folder full of classic images from the collection through the years. It’s important to get a feel for their ‘house style’ – how they use anatomy, their paint style etc.

I used a few basic brushes for the paint style – a couple of chalks to give a less perfect finish and regular soft brushes. A combo of the two gives a compromise. I’m still not too happy with how my chalks work and I’ve been trying to experiment to get the perfect texture but overall I was hoping for a ‘painty’, gouache kind of feel.

To further the natural media feel I added a texture layer over the whole image. Without it and without using some chalks, the finish would look too smooth and ‘digital’.

Let’s talk hair. Hair has never been a strong point for me but it started out as an airbrushed mop with no defined shape. This wasn’t working for me so I started to add hard strands via the pen tool, which took ages but was worth it. I then faded those strands back (with the messy airbrush still visible under) and used a bit of smudge to make some of the ends less perfect.

Overall the progress was fairly straight forward with the main challenges being the hair and also the severed arm! (believe it or not). I chose an arm from one of the other Street Fighter 2 main characters, the deciding factor being whether their arm was particularly recognisable. So Chun Li was my choice because of her sleeve and wrist band. But as I said, this turned out to be quite a challenge. I think it was the shape and pose of the limb as well as the spikey bracelet being quite a solid geometric shape with parallel ellipses. Tricky. Took a few goes to get right, as may be apparent in the progress shots.

What helped to define the form was borrowing out of the Garbage Pail Kid house style of having key lights around much of the anatomical form. So just check out most of Blanka’s form lines as well as Chun Li’s arm – you’ll notice a strip of light that doesn’t logically fit there in terms of accurate lighting but it certainly makes things stand out.

In conclusion (ladies and gentlemen)… yeah it was harder than I thought to get in all the detail I set out to but I’m definitely happy with the result. There’s more to these Garbage Pail Kid paintings than one at first appreciates. Some fine detail if you study the various images throughout the years. But again, never underestimate the power of the digital media to correct mistakes as well as improve on your original sketch.

Here is a final image without the titling:

GPK blanka

I hope you enjoyed and/or learned. Please do drop me a line if you have any questions and I will definitely get back to you. Or comment so everyone can benefit from the Q&A.

About Andy Walsh

Concept Artist in Seattle
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