YCH Cuties Tutorial

This tutorial covers the YCH Cuties series of files I’ve released.

You can download them shortly, watch this space! Make sure you follow at one of the social media pages below to find out when it becomes available!

3… 2… 1… GO

wave1Hi! I’m Zhivago and I’m going to show you how to navigate and recolor one of my YCH templates.

Check out my YouTube channel for this tutorial and more in video form: Zhivago on YouTube

If you enjoy the file, you can get new ones delivered directly to you regularly by subscribing on Patreon!

@ArtByZhivago on TwitterInstagram or Facebook -or- Adopt a CatBird on Telegram


This tutorial will cover the Cuties YCH series files.

Variations include: Canines, Felines & Critters


Adobe-Photoshop-CC-01First thing you need is the appropriate software.

These files are made to use in Adobe Photoshop CC.

There is a 30 day free trial or you can subscribe to it for as little as $10/mo. These instructions are made for photoshop so I highly recommend you CHECK IT OUT.

NOTE: If you don’t have Adobe Photoshop, that’s okay, but I don’t know how to edit these files in anything else so you’ll need to reference tutorials for your particular software and figure out how to use these files via trial by fire.


I offer two types of files. It says in the file name which type you have.

The default option is the Regular file. This is a smaller file with less options and it is for personal use only.

The Deluxe file has more options, more use rights and includes markings. Patreon subscribers receive these files as part of their pledge and they are released to the public for purchase after 90 days.


  • Lineart
  • Brush File, if applicable
  • Shading, if applicable
  • Personal Use Rights
  • Instructions (PDF and online)


  • Lineart
  • Brush File, if applicable
  • Shading, if applicable
  • One-Click Markings and Recolor
  • Color Map
  • Personal and Resale Use Rights
  • Instructions (PDF and online)
  • Individual Personalized Support


Unzip your file in a safe location.

Save yourself a backup so you don’t overwrite the original.


This layer gives you information about the file and what you’re allowed to do with it.

Click the Eye icon to hide it and get started.


Deluxe Files have a variety of preset markings ready for you to edit with one click. This makes editing quick and easy. Deluxe files also include a Color Map to see all marking options.

Regular files do not have these layers and require manual coloring.

  1. Browse the list of layer folders.
  1. BASE COLOR at the bottom of the list is a good place to start.
  1. Either review the color map to locate your desired marking or try various styles by turning layers on and off using the eye icon.
  2. Double click any COLORED SQUARE to edit the color.
  3. Play with the Layer Options in order to get the desired effect. Be aware that some Layer Options may be transparent and may need alteration to look right.


Regular files do not include the additional color layers. They can be colored by hand.

  1. Open the Colors Layer
  2. Double click the white square labeled BASE COLOR to set a main color, if desired
  3. Paint over directly on the layer above BASE COLOR.
  4. Add layers here as desired.colors_exampleofreglayer




  1. Open the Brush Presets Panel 
  2. Top Menu > Window > Brush Presets 
  3. Navigate to the location you unzipped the files to. 
  4. Select the ABR file included with the kit
    For this file it is ‘YCH-CUTIES.ABR’ 
  5. The brush will be added to the end of your list of brushes. 
  6. You may now draw additions over the base.



Chain Brush


CHAINS CAN BE A PAIN TO DRAW. Here’s how I make it easy AF. Follow the directions below using your own art to develop your own brush.


Download includes ZIP file with one 200px Chain Brush with Presets for Photoshop.


Step One

DRAW A ROCKET. It’s two chain links. I put a gap in the bottom because that is where the pieces will link.


Step Two

Rotate it to go left to right. From the Edit menu, Define Brush Preset.

Step Three

Open the Brush Panel and select the new brush (It’s probably at the end). Go to Shape Dynamics and set the Angle Jitter to Direction

Step Four

Set the Size Jitter to Off.


Go back to the Brush Tip Shape panel and adjust the spacing until it looks right. In my case, 216% is what worked for me.


You can use it as is, or add Blending Layers to add ‘Lineart’ for a toonier look.

Shown: Chains on separate layer with Blending Layers – Color Overlay set to White, 100% opacity, and Stroke added.

PS Script for Artists: Automatic WIP Maker

Script #1: Automatic WIP Maker

Here is how to create a one-click action that marks and sequentially saves every stage of your project without missing a beat!

The really nice thing about Photoshop is that you can program automatic processes to make your life easier.

Here is a short tutorial on how I make my life a little easier with Actions and Scripts!

These instructions are for Adobe Photoshop CC. If you don’t have it… well, I can’t force you to get it, but scripts like these make me urge you to try it out. You can subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $9.99/mo and that’s a pretty cheap price to pay for the ability to automate things like this. There’s a 30 day free trial as well. I will not be making instructions on how to do this in any other programs because I don’t know how to use them!



Download This Action


Please consider supporting me somehow if you like the pack! Every follow, pledge or subscription helps me make more of these!

For those of you who opted to go the analog route and DIY this sucker, onto the tutorial!



Since this is an automated process, you’ll need to set aside a directory where you will NEVER move these files.

I created a directory in my artwork drive that is dedicated to files that are made specifically for automation. That way they don’t get caught in the fray of any other files. Tucked away in a dark corner where they only speak when spoken to is exactly where you want them. Like enslaved podlings except digital files so there’s no ethical questions.

Automation Directory
Automation Directory


Create a WIP Stamp you’d like to put on your artwork. It will need to be visible on both dark and light backgrounds. I made a black splash and added white text over it with my information. I’ve made this mark nice and big so that it can be used on any size image without a loss in quality. Really big. Like this sucker is 2283×1190 at 150 dpi big. I ain’t kiddin’ around.



Before you create your action, you’ll need your script ready to include in the action.

This script will make a JPG image of your file in the same directory as your working PSD file.

STEP ONE: Open up Notepad/Notepad II and paste the following code into a new document:

#target photoshop


function main(){

if(!documents.length) return;

var Name = app.activeDocument.name.replace(/.[^.]+$/, '');

Name = Name.replace(/d+$/,'');


var savePath = activeDocument.path;


alert("You must save this document first!");


var fileList= savePath.getFiles(Name +"*.jpg").sort().reverse();

var Suffix = 0;


Suffix = Number(fileList[0].name.replace(/.[^.]+$/, '').match(/d+$/));


Suffix= zeroPad(Suffix + 1, 4);

var saveFile = (savePath + "/" + Name + "_" + Suffix + ".jpg").replace("__","_");

SaveJPEG(File(saveFile), 8);


function SaveJPEG(saveFile, jpegQuality){

var doc = activeDocument;

if (doc.bitsPerChannel != BitsPerChannelType.EIGHT) doc.bitsPerChannel = BitsPerChannelType.EIGHT;

jpgSaveOptions = new JPEGSaveOptions();

jpgSaveOptions.embedColorProfile = true;

jpgSaveOptions.formatOptions = FormatOptions.STANDARDBASELINE;

jpgSaveOptions.matte = MatteType.NONE;

jpgSaveOptions.quality = jpegQuality;

activeDocument.saveAs(saveFile, jpgSaveOptions, true,Extension.LOWERCASE);


function zeroPad(n, s) {

n = n.toString();

while (n.length < s) n = '0' + n;

return n;


STEP TWO: Save it to your Scripts folder and call it something you’ll remember. Set the filetype to ‘All Files’ and give it a .jsx extention


Name your Script file and give it the correct extension

If you go into the folder later and realize that your file ends in .jsx.txt – It’s okay. Just edit it and take the .txt off. It won’t work if .txt is on there so just be sure to remove it.

You’re ready to record!


Open up your Actions Panel. You can find it under Window > Actions or press Alt+F9

Actions Panel

Press record and here we go!

Step 1: Save

This is important because we will be using the revert command to undo everything at the end and we don’t want to accidentally revert to a phase where we lose work.

Flatten Image
Flatten Image

Step 2: Flatten Image

This makes the image easier for the computer to process during the action because the file size is smaller.

This is located in the Layer dropdown at the bottom.

Place Embedded

Step 3: Place Image, Press Enter to place.

This adds your watermark. I use ‘Place Embeded’ because it doesn’t matter and we’ll revert all our changes anyway.

Navigate to your watermark file. If you made it nice and big, it should appear as large as it can fit on the canvas in the current orientation, right in the center.


Press enter to accept the mark’s position. Do not move it or resize it yet.


Step 4: Rasterize Layer

Pretty self explanatory. Right click the watermark layer to open the menu and select Rasterize Layer.

Now the mark has a new 100% size and we can resize it in proportion to the piece.


Step 5: Transform Layer

From the top menu, go to Edit > Free Transform or press Ctrl+T.

DO NOT resize using the corners of the selection box. You’ll want to use the percentages box up here so that the action can record it properly.

I set mine to 70%. I want my mark to be big in order to compensate for my shortcomings, like my height.

Step 6: Select All

Get the dancing ants! You should still be on the watermarks layer. From the top menu, click Select > Select All or press Ctrl+A to select the entire canvas.

Step 7: Align the Layer

Layer > Align Layers to Selection > Your Choice – I want it on the bottom.


Lather, rinse, repeat to move it to on side. My marks usually go on the right.

Step 8: Layer > Align Layers to Selection > Your Choice



Step 9: Nudge it

Using the arrow keys, put it in the exact spot you want it in. DO NOT CLICK AND DRAG. This will not record correctly. This command won’t appear in the list until you move to the next step so don’t worry when it doesn’t show up immediately.




If you like your mark as it is, then skip this part. I like to add an effect because I’m a tryhard.

OPTIONAL STEP: STOP RECORDING FIRST. Play with the layer effects to find one you like. When you make your choice, set the layer back to Normal before you click record again. I like Difference in this case because it applies my Black splash only when the background is light.


Step 10: Revert

This resets the canvas back to whence you came.


That’s it! You now have an action that instantly saved a marked WIP for you!

If you’re having trouble, go through these instructions again with a fine toothed comb. Actions can be VERY picky and one wrong click can botch the whole thing so I’ve tried my best to make this as simple as possible.

Hope you were able to get it working! Now all of your WIP’s can be safely marked before you share them! Enjoy!

~Your friendly neighborhood cat-bird, Z

The Commission Process

Order Form Offers and Pricing

Printing & Shipping Terms of service

Schedule & Openings Current Commission Queue (Trello)

How to Order A Commission

Step One: Decide What you Want

You can view my offerings and pricing below. If you have something special in mind, ask and I can probably do it!

Offers and Pricing

Step Two: Place your Order

You can do one of the following:

  1. Book a timeslot
  2. Fill out the Commission Form

Schedule & Openings

Order Form

Step Three: I’ll get in contact!

I’ll handle the rest from there! Talk to you soon!

The Commission Process


A Guide for Clients on How to Navigate to the Commission Artist’s Work Process

This is how you should expect the commission process to work, what I need feedback on, what you can give feed back on, when I can use that feedback, and when payments are expected.

Feel free to leave any questions in the comments – This is just my personal workflow but feel free to use this as a reference!

  1. Quote Phase
  2. Invoicing (Payment Due)
  3. Thumbnail Phase – Thumbnail Approval Required
  4. Detail Phase (Payment Due, if not paid in full)
  5. Detail Phase – Round of Edits
  6. Final Illustration
  7. Final Round of Edits

1. Quote Phase:

You tell me what kind of project you want. You may select from my list of offerings or request something new.

If pricing is not available, I will prepare an estimate for you of how long the work will take, what material costs will be and what kind of deadline to expect.

Quotes are valid for 30 days. Pricing will vary.

2. Invoicing

I will generate an invoice for you. This invoice has estimated work dates.

Payment plans/financing can be negotiated for pieces over $250 USD.

This invoice will provide you a list of WIP deadlines for each step in the process.

These dates are estimated under the condition that payment will be received within 72 hours of the invoice.

Every day after 72 hours without payment will extend each deadline listed by 1.5 days.

*Payment Due*

Your first deposit will be due before work can be officially started – Max work done without payment will be thumbnails.

Payment Made

Your invoice will be applied. This can be one lump sum or payments can be negotiated.

3. Thumbnail Phase

I present a selection of thumbnails for your approval. Thumbnails are small sketches that are used to help plan posing and composition before moving onto a larger amount of detail. I will provide at least three, but no more than 5, thumbnail sketches for your consideration.

You may provide any and all feedback you may have. Props will be presented as blocks or blobs with no definition during this phase.

You must confirm your thumbnail selection before I can move forward.

If you do not like any options presented, I can do one additional set of thumbnails at no cost. Additional thumbnails after this will be $20/set of 5.

Thumbnail Selection Required

Select a thumbnail from the offering in order for me to proceed. Minor adjustments, such as moving an arm or hand, can be applied during a detail phase and a revised thumbnail will not be provided prior.

I can edit the following at this stage:

Pose Positioning
Prop Positioning

4. Detail Phase


I will prepare a sketch that acts as a more defined ‘framework’ for your piece. It will be messy, but it will determine the final position and sizes of various shapes. It contains more detail than the thumbnail phase, but still not complete detail.

5. Detail Phase – Round of Edits


You must provide any and all feedback you may have. You may submit edits via our original medium of contact or by e-mail to zhi@cat-bird.com.

You will be provided a maximum of two rounds of edits. Please review your piece entirely and submit all corrections at once. I am unable to work effectively if edits ‘trickle’ in.

Additional edits after two rounds may be requested at the standard rate, charged in 30 minute increments.
Edits will be made and the billable amount will be added to the next invoice based on the time taken to apply them.

I can edit the following at this stage:

Character Features
Character Pose
Facial Expressions
Character Clothing

Please be sure the placement of all items on this list are satisfactory to you. Some high detail items may not be fully fleshed out at this stage.

EXAMPLE: If your character is wearing lace, the lace will be shown as a detail-less band for placement. The individual decorative fibers of the lace are not defined until the full detail phase.

*Payment Due*

If you did not pay in full, the second half of your payment is now due. Any additional charges have been discussed with you prior to adding them into this invoice.

6. Final Illustration


After all edits are received and applied, the final construction begins. In this phase, I paint based off the detailed sketch.

Please note: I do not do lineart first. I do lineart last. Due to this, the phase between color and lineart is unable to effectively translate to others who do not understand the process, so I do not submit the artwork for review during this process. I may post WIPs to social media to share progress, but you may not request edits during this phase due to the nature of my work flow.

7. Final Illustration – Round of Edits and Final Approval


When I am satisfied with the piece, I will submit it to you for review. Since this is the proposed final, you will have one round of edits.

Additional edits after one round may be requested at the standard rate, charged in 30 minute increments.
Edits will be made and the billable amount will be added to the final invoice based on the time taken to apply them.

I can edit the following at this stage:

Minor adjustments
Add Small Details
Remove Small Details
Change colors

*Payment Due*

If any additional edits have exceeded the limits of the edit specifications, you will be invoiced for the additional time spent.

Final Artwork Approved

Your artwork is finished! If you ordered a print – I would add on the following step:

OPTIONAL: Printing & Shipping

If you have ordered a print or hard copy of your artwork, I print it and ship it!

PLEASE NOTE: Printing and shipping costs are not included with any project unless requested or specifically stated.