advanced photoshop
Dec
26

Paint neon colour portraits: Part One

Posted in:
General, by Adam Smith

Learn how to create vibrant and luminous colours in your portraits, using Adobe Photoshop

The idea

The painting starts with an idea of a girl with blue hair and bright eyes. The dominant colour is sky blue and the secondary colour is a dusty pinkish flesh with a variation of a darker value of each colour. With a big chalk brush, lay down the general shape of the figure with her pink flesh and blue hair against a dark background.

Paint neon colour portraits: Part One

Two to three colours

Start with a couple to three colours as a base to build on. It minimises the thinking process and shifts the focus to the anatomy and shape of the figure as it relates to the background.

Paint neon colour portraits: Part One

Colour outside the “line”

Loosely indicate the eye sockets, the shadow under the nose, and the lips. Think of them not as features, but shapes on a curved plane. Let the brushstrokes move into each other to create mid-range colours to pick from.

Paint neon colour portraits: Part One

hape breakdown

Break down the larger shapes to form the structure of her face. Pick colours that have been laid down and use them to add shadows. Brushstrokes are put in wildly, but intentionally varies from distinct shapes to very soft gradation.

Paint neon colour portraits: Part One

Composition strength

Use the hair to frame the figure and to add movement to the image. The face is tilted up to indicate it’s on a higher plane to add to the perspective of the image. A soft round brush is used to quickly and broadly indicate soft shadows on the face.

Paint neon colour portraits: Part One

Add warmth

The figure has so far been painted with the three colours that were put down at the beginning. To add more warmth to the face, use a medium saturated pink and faintly add touches to the cheeks, nose, and lips.

Paint neon colour portraits: Part One

Juxtapose light and dark

Play with the juxtaposition of light against dark. Contrast her pale skin against the dark upper background and her dark dress against the brightly lit lower background. This brings the figure out from the background and adds depth to the image.

Paint neon colour portraits: Part One

Be a designer

Have a little fun with the costume by using odd shapes and breaking it up into flying pieces. Use it to add visual interest and create a lifting motion in the figure and the image.

Paint neon colour portraits: Part One

Introduce the complement

Experiment by adding a complement to the painting. Red is replaced by yellow using Image>Adjustments>Selective Colour. The dress and the design is further explored using the complementary colour.

Paint neon colour portraits: Part One

Refine anatomy

Make simple changes to the anatomy of the figure by first making a selection of the area that needs to be moved, then use Ctrl+Shift+C to copy all parts of every layer. Paste the compiled image using Ctrl+Shift+V and move it where it needs to go.

Paint neon colour portraits: Part One

Double checking

Continue work on the anatomy and design, while keeping the image zoomed out to prevent the addition of unnecessary details. Make sure all the features are aligned on the same perspective. Move the body back to extend the neck and add tension to the figure.

Paint neon colour portraits: Part One

Use shadows

Darken the edges of the image by creating a new Overlay layer and adding a soft gradient of dark blue. This sets the lower part of the body back and moves the focus to the face. It is the same as setting the figure in shadow and it should take on some of the blue of the background.

Paint neon colour portraits: Part One

Liquify

To move the features around on a small scale, use Filter>Liquify. Use the Move tool to move the eyes into alignment. Before doing this, make sure all the layers are combined and duplicated using Ctrl+Shift+C/Cmd+Shift+C and Ctrl+Shift+V/Cmd+Shift+C.

Paint neon colour portraits: Part One

Soften the features

Zoom into the face and use a medium sized chalk brush to refine and soften the features. Lift the brow and part the lips slightly to add some sensuality to the face. The lower lip is brightened with a slightly more saturated colour, while staying close to its value.

Paint neon colour portraits: Part One

Paint neon colour portraits: Part One

Going back

The yellow wasn’t adding much warmth to the painting, so it is shifted back to the pink in the original sketch by using Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Selective Colour. This keeps the adjustment on a different layer and the original can be brought back again using the mask created with it.

…follow more in part two of this tutorial, released 29th December.