Final version of the painting in the how-to I posted earlier.
Fan art of Kai Opaka from Star Trek: Deep Space 9. Ref: http://startreksansfrontiere.org/pages/echo/personnages/autres/bajoran/opaka.html
At some point, I will learn to paint drapery correctly. Today is not that day.
How I paint:
Most of this is worked in a single layer (after the initial few steps), with a hard round brush that links opacity and diameter to pen pressure, and shape dynamics to pen angle (basically a virtual round sable brush). Generally I start with an A4 sized canvas at 300 dpi. I use Adobe Photoshop CS5 and a Wacom Intuos4 tablet. The critter I’ve depicted is copyrighted to me.
I start with a sketch using a small hard round brush, then add linework over the top in a second layer. I delete the sketch and, after selecting a palette of skin tones to work with and placing them on their own layer, add a flat base color with a big opaque brush under the linework. Once that’s in place, I merge the color and line layers and start shading with a 100-200px hard round brush at 100% opacity (remember—pen pressure modifies this). I usually add a background color at some point, mostly to set the tone and give my light and dark values something to compare against besides blank white.
As I progress, I generally go down in size to a 50px hard round brush at 50% opacity, then at 20% opacity to blend (blending=selecting nearby colors with the eyedropper tool, then using a low-opacity brush to gradually blend the colors together). A 25px brush is good for details. I’ll go down to a 10px if I’m doing individual hairs or something on a portrait, but the smallest I used for this example was a 25px brush.
I continue blending and shading, making sure to use a variety of colors—here I used seafoamy greens and slate blues in addition to the lavender-grey and grey-violet base tones.
For the background, I used a 300px brush with dynamics that mimic palette-knife work or dry-brush work on rough gesso. This adds some nice contrast and texture. It’s amazing how much more legit a digital painting looks with just a touch of texture.
After I’ve done most of my blending and shading, I add a “soft light” layer over my working layer, and add highlights where appropriate. I’ll also add a “darken” layer and refine the shadows.
Once that’s done, I futz around with the background until it makes the piece pop, tie the piece into the background with a base shadow, delete the palette layer, crop everything down to size, and add in my artist’s mark.
If you’ve got any questions, feel free to ask.
Critter sugar skulls (Boa constrictor and domestic cat).
“Not Going According To Plan”
Fanart of Loki from the Avengers movie. Reference photo: http://www.worldofsuperheroes.com/film-tv/tom-hiddleston-loki-talks-briefly-about-thor-the-dark-world/
“Portrait of the Artist as a Young Transman.” Self-portrait speedpaint.
“I Don’t Brood.”
Fanart of Fenris from Dragon Age 2