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Arthur Christmas movie breakdown: how to draw Steve

If you’re on a Christmas movie spree like I am, you might have seen the Arthur Christmas movie (available on Netflix!). It was produced by Aardman productions (yes, the studio that made Chicken Run and the Wallace and Gromit movies!) and Sony Pictures Animation.

Arthur Christmas movie

Arthur Christmas is a film about Arthur Claus, the son of Santa Claus, who tries to save a little girl’s Christmas because her present did not get delivered.

Steve Claus is Arthur’s brother. He runs the high tech Sleigh like a military operation. After watching the movie I decided to sketch him. This sketch ended up in this value study!

These are the tools I used:

Art supplies
  • iPad Pro 12.9 inch
  • Apple Pencil 2
  • Procreate
    *6b pencil
    *Smudge tool with the Nikko Rull brush

Canvas settings

The first thing I do when I start a new project is deciding what size my canvas will be. In this case, I want to showcase my work on Instagram. I decided to make the canvas 1080 pixels by 1350 pixels. Then I choose a background that was about 75% grey. My iPad is set on 100% brightness, so having a completely white background will hurt my eyes. 75% grey feels comfier, and it will pop my highlights and deepen my darks.

Let's Break It Down

Bounding Box

Step 1

First I start out by drawing the bounding box. This is a rough estimate of where the basic shapes should be. I usually end up tweaking the proportions just a little bit.

Andrew Loomis Method

Step 2

Now I will draw the placement of the features using the Andrew Loomis method. Since this isn’t a realistic character, I don’t use this method how I normally would. For this drawing, I start by drawing a circle. Then I divide the circle horizontally in half. This is the eye line.

Step 3

After that, I draw a vertical line that represents the centre of the face. The bottom of the nose is located a little below the bottom of the circle. The ears, of which I already placed the bounding boxes in the first step, are about the same height as the nose. Followed by defining the outline of each value.


Step 4

Before I start with hatching (drawing little lines to indicate value), I lay down a base colour in the same colour as the background. I do this on a layer beneath the sketch, which I later combine.

With each feature defined, I start to use the hatching technique to visualize the shape in 3D. I also tilt my pencil to get to the broader tip of the lead of my virtual 6b pencil.


Step 5

Next, I smudge the value lines with the Nikko Rull brush. Once this is done, I go back with the hatching and do the highlights. I go back and forth between highlights and shadows. I use the exact same process for the clothing and hair. Don’t see the hair as individual strands, but as solid shapes at first. After that, you can add strands of hair.

General lights and darks

Steve Arthur Christmas movei Drawing

After I finish smudging everything I add the bigger overall values. In hindsight, I should’ve done this at the start of the process. I make my brush very big and, on a different layer, I add general brush strokes to deepen the values of the eyes, but the whites of the eye should stay light.

Arthur Christmas Movie Drawing

Next, I add darker values to the neck right below the chin. I add some lighter values to the cheeks to give it a lifting effect.


Steve Christmas Arthur christmas movie

That’s it! With the use of the same old Nikko Rull brush I added some value to the background

I was Torn between making a super smooth finished drawing, or leaving it as a sketch, so I decided to leave it in the middle. As I suspected, I had a lot of fun doing this. I might do the same drawing but with coloured pencils!

Hope you enjoyed this breakdown. I’ll post more about Christmas movies in the future :)

♡ Laura

P.S You can see a process video on my Instagram page!

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