Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Gladys And Her Cat by Russ Cox

© 2012 Russ Cox | Smiling Otis Studio

In celebration of Valentine's Day, I decided to work up a sketch I had lying around my studio that I called "Gladys And Her Cat". It is based on how children usually carry a cat around the house. I though adding the drawings hanging on the wall would help emphasize her love for her cat.

This is a tighter version of the sketch. I lightened the nose and mouth on Gladys so the line work would not stand out in the final art. The line work was converted to a dark purple to give it a bit more life than using black.

Using the multiply layer in Photoshop, I did a grayscale underpainting which I duplicated and then added a red tint. This makes it a two layer toned underpainting so that I have a dark value to paint on which helps the final art colors pop.

Working like a traditional painting, I started from the back by painting in the walls, patterns, baseboards, and floor. This helps me decide what colors to use for the main images and prevents color revisions later on by trying to get a background color to work with all of the main elements. The final art layers are set to "normal" but have my brushes set to 20-45% opacity. By doing this, it allows me to build up the color.

I then painted the drawings by using a crayon-like brush. I though the paper should be a few colors like construction paper. The dog and mouse were painted next.

Continuing moving to the front, Gladys was painted in the next step. I thought having her as a redhead would help solidify the concept of "love". 

The valentine's card and cat were painted. I used my orange cat as a model for color and attitude. Sometimes I will play with the saturation if I find the colors getting flat as I work. Gladys' skin tone got a mild boost so she looks more lively.

I thought I was about done with the illustration but the floor seemed too bare and boring. Building on the drawings in the background, I decided to add some additional drawings on the floor with a few crayons laying about. I quickly sketched the new items out, scanned them, and added them onto a new layer which I multiplied so the white drops out and the line work is  showing. Working digitally allows one to add and subtract images as they work without having to start over. 

The final image has the new elements painted, some of the line work beefed up and highlights added. 

You can view more of my work at:

Tune in next week to see what the talented Debbie Ohi has up her sleeve!


  1. Great post ... love the look on the kitty's face. I have always had a fondness for the name Gladys :-)

  2. This is sooo cute. Your cat drawings are the BEST. You should make a whole book out of them ("written by" Gladys of course)

  3. Awesome stuff, Ross. Perfect fix for that floor.

  4. Love this marriage of character and setting.

  5. Thanks everyone!

    @Hazel-One of my favorite aunt is named Gladys.
    @Renee-Interesting idea, thanks!
    @Joanna-Our daughter carried around her cat like that.
    @Wouter-Glad you liked the floor fix
    @Anna-Thank you.

  6. This is so animated Russ, I love it!! : )

    a : )

  7. Fantastic work, Russ! Thanks for showing all of the process too :-) The girl is just standing but she's sooo full of motion and emotion!

  8. Russ, this is fantastic. Can you tell us how you made the lines in between the floor boards? I no longer work digitally as it really hurts my wrists anymore but I still find it fascinating.

  9. @Andi-Thanks!
    @Tracy-I was concerned that she might be too rigid but I am glad that her emotion is helping with movement
    @Verso-I selected a color for my stroke, clicked on a starting point, while holding down the "Shift" key (Mac), I clicked a stopping point for the line which made it straight.

  10. As a person who can't draw a stick figure, I'm fascinated and amazed by seeing the process you go through to create your illustrations. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Thanks for sharing your process. Looks great!

  12. Thank you to everyone who liked this silly little painting.