To define the lips, first work on their shape with shades of red and pale pink using curved strokes. Using a dark reddish brown, define the line where the lips meet. Not making the line continuous or of an even thickness aids the realism, as does adding some vertical light and dark lines across the lips.
Just like the nose, the ear is usually redder in colour. Choose the same orange/pink as before and define the shape. Using browns and darker reds, work on the recesses to bring out the definitive form. Adding some bright highlights, especially on the antihelix and antitragus, adds realism, as these areas usually are a bit more shiny.
With everything perfectly recognisable, you can now concentrate on refining everything and bringing it to a level of detail that is appealing, paying close attention to the eyes and lips. Even out skin tones by first painting over it with a textured brush at a low Opacity value, then blending with the Smudge tool. Also, fix any mistakes now.
Grabbing a rectangular brush, with Opacity Jitter set to Pen Pressure, Spacing at 5% and Angle Jitter set to Direction, paint in the loops the braids will form, already paying attention to the braid pattern. Using this brush for this helps keep things loose, but still retains the illusion of detail even at this early stage.
Keeping the brush but making it smaller, start to add some shadows with an even darker shade of brown, bearing the light source in mind. Once that’s done, you can pick a lighter brown and add the highlights. For some very strong highlights, you can use the same light blue and yellow that are present in the face.
Switching to a speckled brush, with Opacity at Pen Pressure and Spacing at 5%, add some more detail to certain areas. To detail even more in one or two focal parts, use a rough-edged round brush with Opacity and Size Jitter set to Pen Pressure. Using the Smudge tool, blend some parts following the direction of the strands.
Adding a new layer, choose a dark brown and, using the round Paintbrush with Opacity set to Pen Pressure, paint the design. Changing the layer mode often helps make it appear more like part of the skin. If necessary, you can duplicate the layer and adjust the Opacity or layer mode to get the desired result. Slightly blurring the edges may also help.
Adding another layer and using the rectangular brush with the same settings as before, paint the basic shape of the headscarf in deep pink. Using orange, yellow and dark red, add basic highlights and shadows where appropriate and blend everything slightly – not too much – with the Smudge tool, keeping some of the roughness intact.
You can now erase those bits that don’t fit in, evening out the edges, and then refine the highlight and shadows, keeping some areas loose. Once happy, you can have some fun with various brushes painting a pattern on a new layer. And it’s never too late to change colours, so let’s do that using Variations (Image>Adjust>Variations) and overpainting the background.
Let’s move onto the grasses in the hair. For these, you can use both the round brush – Opacity and Size Jitter set to Pen Pressure – and the rectangular brush with the same settings as before. In keeping with the rest of the painting, we want to just hint at the grasses, focusing only on one or two in more detail.
This is best achieved with photo texture brushes from marble or stone and speckled brushes. Add a new layer, choose your brush and stamp it over the skin, then set the layer to Overlay or Soft Light and reduce its Opacity as necessary. Erase where needed. You can do this with light and dark colours for more variation.
You may want to add some Motion Blur to the image, namely on the grasses and the ends of the scarf. Using the Lasso tool (adjusting its feathering as needed to get less harsh breaks), select the area you want to blur and apply Filter>Blur>Motion Blur. Play with it until it looks right to you.
Almost done now. You may feel that there isn’t enough texture yet, so adding a new layer (or several), you can do what you did with the skin. Both photo and hand-painted textures work great. You can also add accent or ambient light in the same manner, using a soft round brush.
Flatten the painting and look at adjusting its levels or colour intensity. You can do this with Image>Adjustments>Levels or Image>Adjustments>Variations. You can also duplicate the layer, set it to Overlay or Soft Light and reduce its Opacity until you are happy. And there you have it – a simple but effective portrait.