Step 1: Create a new canvas
Open the source file from the resource pack and create a new canvas, ensuring the dpi is set to 300. The actual canvas size should be reasonably large too, as the bigger it is the more detail you will be able to pack in. Fill in the background; an offset of blue gives a better result then 100% black. Try C: 75%, M: 68%, Y: 65%, K: 88%.
Step 2: Work on the lighting
Lower the Opacity to around 17% and the Flow to 75% and choose a rough-edged brush, like the one chosen in this picture. Select a mid-light blue, and on a new layer, start brushing in some blue lighting to form a circle that will sit behind the subject’s head. Try overlaying the blue occasionally to create a ‘smokey’ look.
Step 3: Sketch in a basic outline
Open the Brushes palette. Start by changing your brush to a basic brush with a hard edge at 100% Opacity, then turn on Shape Dynamics and ensure the Minimum Diameter is set to 0% and the Control is set to Pen Pressure. Then start sketching the outline of the subject’s face, and finish by colour blocking it in.
Step 4: Sketch in some rough details
Start by sketching in some of the rough outlines of the face. By choosing a low opacity, soft brush with Shape Dynamics switched on (with a 0% Minimum Diameter), you can start softly sketching in details, which can be changed later if needed. We started with the nose in this example, and then started mapping out some of the shadows shown in the source image. Even if you later change the harshness of the shadows, it’s important to map them out initially so you understand the composition of the face.
Step 5: Basic shading
Select a large, soft brush and start by shading in some of the shadows. Ensure the Opacity of the brush is set very low – in this example we used a brush at 8% Opacity. Start by shading around the eyes without removing your pen, then when you want to create a more intense shadow, remove the pen and work over the darker part. There will be a ‘stepped’ effect of shadows, which you will work on in the next step.
Step 6: Smooth the colour
Now you have a harshly ‘stepped’ appearance in the shadow, you obviously want to smooth this to create more of a realistic shadow. By using the Eyedropper tool (I) and the Brush tool (B) in coordination with one another, you can smooth the shadow out. Select the lighter area of the shadow with the Eyedropper tool, then using a soft brush at low opacity, start overlapping the edge of the line of shadow, then repeat until the colour blends into the base colour. Finish by filling some colour to the face.
Step 7: Intensify the colour and tones
As you work on the shadows and composition of the face, you will then want to add a bit more colour to your work. Start by blocking in the eyes and adding highlights and more shadow. This is still basic at this stage, but by adding some colour, you can start to feel how the image is progressing. By using a low-opacity, large, soft brush, you can work with shadows and tones. If the large brush strokes mute the appearance of image details, this can be reworked with a finer brush on a new layer.
Step 8: Refine the outlines
When working with shadows, you may notice everything looking a little ‘blurry’. To enhance and define shadows more, work with a higher opacity, smaller brush in the more intense areas of shadow, ensuring Shape Dynamics is on, with a mid-soft brush. To soften the shadows around it, use a low-opacity, larger brush as in step 6. This will take some work, but helps refine the details. Then use a harder brush, with Shape Dynamics on and an Opacity of 30%, and start to sketch in some harder and sharper details to the eyes to give definition.
Step 9: Block in colour
Paint in the lip colour and shadows around the face, working on intensifying them as per the instructions in step 6. The lips will need a base colour before you work on the details, and you can then work on colour, tone and detail later on. You can rework parts of the image in new layers should anything look out of place.
Step 10: Work on details
Shade the basic colours onto the lips – both shadows and highlights. Then you will go on to create more detail. Select a hard, small brush and a low opacity. Then select a darker tone similar to the lip colour and work in the lines of the lips. Check the direction of the light source, then next to the darker line add a lighter tone of the lip colour to create the sense that there are grooves in the lips. Ensure the highlights and the dark tones are not too extreme, as the idea is subtlety.
Step 11: Smooth skin tone
To create a smooth skin tone, you can start by using a soft, basic brush at a low opacity, adding in highlights, shadows and tones. Use the Eyedropper tool to select colours next to added highlights and shadows, working over any obvious ‘joins’ in the painting by picking colours close to where the joins are appearing. This will take a lot of time, but is worth taking the time over, as it will help to create a more realistic outcome.
Step 12: Work in the hair
Use a hard, basic brush at 100% Opacity, blocking in a base colour for the hair. Once the outline has taken shape, select a high-opacity, small brush (around 75%) and turn on Shape Dynamics in the Brushes palette. Ensure that Minimum Diameter is set to 0% and Pen Pressure is selected. The colour should be darker than that of the block colour you have just painted in. Start painting in individual strands in the shape of the hairstyle.