Wednesday, March 11, 2015

My Painting Process: A Digital Painting and Photo Manipulation Tutorial

This digital painting and photo manipulation tutorial is a glimpse into my creation process when coming up with my surreal medieval fantasy portraits.

Although I do use a lot of my own photography, this painting was based on a photo provided by model and photographer Lora Palmer (LonelyPierot) 

After resizing the photo to 9000 x 6000 resolution, I start off in Corel Painter 2015 by blocking in and smearing the background and parts of her face with the "Real Clumpy Broad Bristle" brush.

Most of the painting is actually done with this brush, with only parts of it done with "Smeary Round" and "Glazing Round" brushes.

Although Painter has hundreds of brushes, I find it more effective to only use a few.

The drawing tablet I use is a Wacom Intuos Pro.

Next I add in some detail to the necklace and eyes.

Using the "Smeary Round" brush, I begin to add in strands of hair. I pretty much only use this brush for hair. 

For painting hair I will usually paint many layers, adjusting the opacity of each of them differently to give dimension and variety.

Next I add in her armor.

Then a sword, and more detail to the shoulder guards. 

This is when I start messing around with the lighting. I add many layers of both black and white, turning the opacity in each of the lighting layers to almost zero. This adds a realistic softness to everything around the face, allowing the viewer's eye to be drawn to the crisper details of the face itself.

I add in red war paint using multiple multiply layers, again adjusting the opacity for each of the layers.

I then scratch away some of the color in a mask layer, and add some white and black detail over the red.

I flip the painting horizontally to look for flaws, and end up liking it better flipped.

(When I was a traditional oil painter, I would often try and pick out flaws in a similar way by looking at my paintings through a mirror.) 

I add in highlights in the hair, again in many layers.

And then more darker strands.

I make the hair thicker, and fuller.

More detail to the hair.

After I'm pretty much happy with the final product, I open it up in Photoshop CS6 to tweak the lighting. Overall I find Photoshop easier and more efficient for this.

And there you have it, my digital painting and photo manipulation process. To see more of my artwork, check out my website: