Creating the Studio Cat Character

Posted by Jen Siow on

Editor’s Note: In January 2021, Persimmon Peak was renamed Persnickety Pets.

This week’s blog post is a little different than our other posts so far. This week, you get to follow along as I bring our first Persnickety Pet illustration to life! This is our Studio Cat character, based on my very own studio cat, Marmalade. I toyed with the title of “Kraft Kitty” because I’m a sucker for alliteration, but “Studio Cat“ is a term that several artists I know (including myself) use to describe their feline project supervisors.

Our Studio Cat character is an avid “helper” and can always be found smack-dab in the middle of an active project site. When she’s not wrangling your supplies for you or keeping your pattern pieces from blowing away, she can be found curled up in a nearby box or on the back of your chair, always ready to offer a helping paw in the next step of your project. Watch the Studio Cat come to life in this time-lapse video then read about each step of the process below.

Step 1: Pencil Sketch

The first step in the process is a basic pencil sketch! For me, there’s still nothing that beats sketching on real paper with my favorite pencils: an easy-to-erase 2B or 3B pencil to lay down the base lines, followed by an 0.9mm HB mechanical pencil for any finer details. The sketch I'll be working with is in the upper left corner of this page.

Persimmon Peak: the first Persnickety Pet characters

Step 2: Using the sketch to create line art in Procreate

After snapping a quick photo of my sketchbook page, I imported the photo into the Procreate drawing app on my iPad. I cut out the sketch I wanted to work with, enlarged it, then turned the image opacity down so I could easily trace my sketch. I used an Apple Pencil and the studio pen brush for this line art.

Persimmon Peak: the Studio Cat, pencil sketch
Persimmon Peak: the Studio Cat, ink over pencil
Persimmon Peak: the Studio Cat, inked outlines

Step 2a: Creating the line art in separate layers

This was a weird way to think about drawing, but it was worth it! After reading and watching a bunch of Procreate tutorials, I decided to try breaking up my drawing into its component parts. So the cat is drawn on its own layer, the box on a second layer, and the sewing supplies on a third layer. This is done to give me more control over the composition: if I don’t like the box I’ve drawn, I can simply toggle off the current box layer and draw a different kind of box on a new layer. And if I later decide I want the studio cat to be sitting in a ceramic pot instead of a box? No problem - toggle off the box layer and draw the ceramic pot around the cat in a new layer! Pretty neat, right?

Persimmon Peak: the Studio Cat, box layer outline
Persimmon Peak: the Studio Cat, cat layer outline
Persimmon Peak: the Studio Cat, notions layer outline

Step 3: Coloring the line art

A separate layer for the colors was created on top of each layer of line art. This is an example of a “non-destructive” technique because it helps preserve the original line drawings - if I don’t like the colors, or I want to say, make it a calico cat next time, I can simply add a new color layer. Each color layer referenced the line art under it so a lot of the coloring process was simply color filling the outlines (like the paint bucket tool in Microsoft Paint). I added some texture and depth with the soft airbrush tool. When I was happy with the color, the line art layer was placed back on top of the color layer to the drawing give nice, clean black outlines.

Persimmon Peak: the Studio Cat, box layer with color
Persimmon Peak: the Studio Cat, cat layer with color
Persimmon Peak: the Studio Cat, notions layer with color

Step 4: Adding small details, shadows, and a signature

I imported the Persimmon Peak logo file, placed it on top of the pencil cup, then warped it to make it look like it was a sticker on the cup! Shadows help give the composition some depth, so those were added in a separate layer. Last detail was my signature! I often get so caught up in completing a drawing that I forget to sign my work until much later. Not this time though :)

Persimmon Peak: the Studio Cat, all the layers together
Persimmon Peak: the Studio Cat, adding shadow and signature

Step 5: Adding a title and caption

Procreate has some nice fonts for adding text to drawings (and the Internet has even more nice fonts) but I liked the idea of hand-lettered captions for my Persnickety Pets. It reminds me of the “Happy Dog” comic strips I used to make in middle school, plus I've spent so many years working on my penmanship - why waste that training??

And voila! Our Studio Cat illustration is complete :)

Persimmon Peak: the Studio Cat, the final illustration

🐾 That wraps up our first “art in progress” blog post (an official Studio Cat approved project). What did you think? Let us know if you’d like to see more posts like this in the future by commenting below!

art in progress artwork behind-the-scenes cats from the studio Marmalade process Studio Cat The Persnickety Pets

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