A few weeks ago I started working on my spare time on a new digital painting that would later be called Delicate. For the whole time I was completing my Bachelor’s Degree in university, I was very busy with work, school projects and extracurricular activities, leaving me almost no time to paint. I started really getting back into it more actively since I graduated and dedicated my time to Veodesign. But even then, I must admit I still don’t paint half as much as I wish I did.
What I would like to share with you today is the step by step process of Delicate. You can see here as well as in the picture posted right below this paragraph the snapshots of my work. Several people wonder how digital painting happens and although there are many ways to go about it, here’s my technique, using Photoshop and my Intuos4 tablet.
I usually start with an idea in my mind or a concept. Sometimes it is very precise, sometimes it’s a blur. For Delicate, I knew I wanted to have the portrait of a tall woman and a flower within a circular canvas. The next step is to dig in my files and on the internet to find proper references: a slender woman and a gorgeous pansy. I do not draw realistic portraits from scratch; I could, but the prospect of making anatomical mistakes is enough to send chills down my spine. Perhaps someday I will. Finding the right images that portrait well my vision can take a few minutes to whole hours. Often, I get discouraged and let go of an idea if I don’t find what I’m looking for which is really a pity. This is another thing that I’m working on changing for the next few months/years.
Once I find all my references, I make a montage and roughly adjust the colors. Since I usually change the colors a lot, it doesn’t bother me. I read once one one fellow artist’s tutorial that using black and white references was best as you wouldn’t be tempted to copy the colors on the original photos. It’s not a bad idea at all.
Using the photomontage as a guide, I create a brand new canvas and start sketching, black on white. On occasion, I paste the montage under my lines in Photoshop to see that I’m not doing anatomical mistakes, if necessary. The next step once the sketch is done and reduced to 30% opacity is to start painting the flat colors and the simple shadows under, as you can see on the first image. I make a sketch of the background right away to make sure the colors will fit with the rest. The rest is really just working on the shadows and highlights, enhancing the contrast and depth of the painting.
Delicate took me around 20-25 hours I believe and I painted it while devouring a BBC’s Merlin on the side, an activity that can be inspiring but also attention and time consuming by itself, increasing the hour count in my case.