Paint a Steampunk-inspired portrait: Part 2
Tips & Tutorials, by Anna-lisa Saywell
Illustrator Ashley Walters reveals how to use light, shadow, colour, and texture to create a captivating portrait
Follow Part 1 of this tutorial by Ashley Walters
Step 8 – Create the Background
Create the illusion of a light source just off canvas using a hard round brush in a pale yellow hue. Sweep the brush downward to emulate the glowing effect of light on a wall. Picking a dark green, sweep the same brush along the edges of the canvas to push the corners into darkness. Blend the colours with a soft round brush as necessary. Note that the light will be brighter and the change between values will be more drastic near the top where the light is closest to the wall.
Step 9 – Start painting
On a layer beneath the sketch, paint the skin using a default round brush. Keep your Opacity and Flow at 100%, and rely on the sensitivity of your tablet to blend the colours. Make a clear delineation between light and shadow. As you continue to refine, add the transitions between the two values using a soft brush when needed. Use your highlights sparingly for the greatest effect. Merge your Sketch layer and your painting layer (select both layers and press Cmd/Ctrl+E) and gently paint out the sketch until all the lines are gone.
Step 10 – Shiny versus dull
A surface looks shiny or dull based on how light and shadows interact with different materials. When painting matte surfaces like the cotton vest, do not paint highlights. Only two values are needed for matte surfaces – mid-tone and shadow – with gradual transitions between the two on occasion. When painting reflective surfaces like silk or brass, however, exaggerate the drastic change in value by using sharp specular highlights in strategic areas where the light would logically fall and by using more contrasting strokes in general. Remember to incorporate surrounding colours, as metal is highly reflective.
Step 11 – Painting skin and hair
When painting skin, find a balance between matte and shiny. The skin will have sharper and brighter highlights if the face is wet (like around the eyes) or where oils of the skin reflect light (like on the nose and inner tear duct). If you haven’t already, add these specular highlights to create luminescence. When painting hair, start by putting in the darkest values first, and then add the midtones using a chunky round brush. Gradually reduce the size of the brush as you refine the hair until you are painting individual strands.
Step 12 – Add texture and pattern
Texture and pattern add realism to your work when done correctly. To create the illusion of wallpaper, paste a damask pattern on a new layer and set the layer Blend Mode to Overlay from the drop-down menu on the Layers palette. Reduce the opacity of the layer so that the pattern is not overbearing but still present. You don’t want your image to be too busy or distract from the figure in the foreground.
Step 13 – Add atmospheric effects
The last step is to add subtle atmospheric effects like glares, smoke, and blurs. Add a glare on the highlight of the goggles using a soft round brush in a pale yellow colour on low opacity. For the blur on the dragon wings, copy the wings onto a new layer underneath and use the Motion Blur filter (Filter>Blur>Motion Blur). Set the angle to 40 degrees and the distance to 200px. Use a smoke brush for the dragon steam. To make it glow, on a new layer use a soft green brush set to Hard Light.