Wednesday, 30 October 2013

LUTHER Process

I always enjoy seeing artists' processes and, as the process I used for my BBC Luther work was so basic, I thought it would be useful and encouraging to any beginners to digital painting out there to post the step-by-step.  Hope it gives someone help, even just a little bit to one person out there!

Here is one finished portrait used for my Luther#1 poster of the character DCI Ian Reed.

Source Material - this is the photo I based my painting on, at its original size (I know!).  I don't mind smaller images to work from as it simplifies it before I start my own simplistic drawing.  It also allows me to add my own details without getting blinded by the original's.  As you might be able to see, looking at the final, simplifying was partly the colour tones, choosing my own blues, more on the slate side, and keeping from drawing too many lines, particularly from the coat collar. 
Pencil Drawing - on A3 watercolour paper, 4H and 4B pencil.  As I was going for a comic look in the final piece I made all of my lines strong and angular.  The eye on the left was a little off which I could correct in the next stage....

Inking - to mimic comic book art and artists I inked over the top of my now-scanned pencil drawing in Photoshop.  My digital ink was a little paler than solid black (personal preference) and done with my new favourite 'round angle' brush which felt akin to using a brush pen as I would in real life, but with less smudges. 
Base Colour - here you can see my palette, cold blue, very much towards purple end of the colour spectrum.  With each portrait on the poster I used a similar colour palette within the image, to separate them and again to keep it visually as simple as possible.  Simple = bold.

Shading - from here on it's a matter of adding new Photoshop layers per colour I use, only as there are so few.  This stage is the mid-tonal shadow; the tone between the deep dark shadows and the softer lighter shadows.  Note that I used this tone to create the details of wrinkles on the face rather than drawing them in at the 'inking' stage.  To create the look of bigger brushier strokes I used a 'fan' brush.  I also used a layer for a pink shade to add variety and more of a touch of realism, to the lips, nose and around the eyes.

Highlights - here is the other end of the shading!  I prefer to do shading and highlighting to add depths before I get involved in all of the iddy-biddy mid-tones.  Not too iddy-biddy though, keeping it simple remember!  Keep bold whites to a minimum unless your portrait is being blasted by sunlight or is a cartoon geisha.  You need places on the spectrum to go to.  

Light Bounce - after finishing all the shading stemming from the base colour palette I add variance by reflecting the environment's lighting - more blue!  I lower the opacity on this colour to blend in with the skin tones; keeps it a softer, more natural look. In more realistic paintings this detail of environmental light reflecting off your subject creates a sense of realism that can easily be overlooked and makes a HUGE difference.  I easily neglect this after drawing too many cartoons from my head but is important to remember. 

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