Friday, 5 April 2013


 Naytiri Portrait

So the past couple of days I've been entertaining myself with this little portrait from one of my favorite movies, Avatar. My goal with this painting was to try to capture the character without doing a straight copy of a photo or still. The painting took about 5 hours and was completed digitally on CS3. Without a doubt the thing that took the longest was working with the pink and blue light sources hitting blue skin... Not a combination you have to worry about very ofter!

Below, for your viewing pleasure are a few work in progress shots to show how I achieved the painting.

 Before doing anything else I roughed out a greyscale sketch to give me an idea of where the shadows would fall. I do this with most of my paintings as it helps to map things out and catch errors before I get too far into the painting. In this case I found it a bit of a mixed blessing as because of the secondary blue light source places where I thought shadow should be were actually florescent blue.

I also drew in one of the pink willow like trees in the background. I don't normally touch the background yet but I found it helped a lot later when I tried to work out the pinks on Nytiri's skin. I may make a mental note to work out the background first going forward.
 Once I had the greyscale image to work with I could start working on the skin tone and roughing in all the elements, lights and shadows in colour. At this point I realized that Nytiri's right eye wasn't quite right. I also noticed that her face was too rounded and her nose too thin, so I spent some time correcting the proportions by flipping the image to get a different perspective and "re-set my brain".
 At this pint I had corrected all of the obvious floors, Finished the right eye and added more definition to the rest of the face. I also painted in Nytiri's stripes and roughed in the light points under her skin so that I could get a feel for the finished painting.
When I first started painting digitally I would paint each element on it's own layer and then stitch it together with a blending layer, but while that made it easy to alter elements without needing to repaint the surrounding area I always found that the painting felt a little disjointed. Now I tend to create a new layer for every sitting. That way I can easily undo anything that I've altered recently but don't like, but I'm always working in the same way I would if I was working in traditional media (in other words, laying down colour, waiting for it to dry and then laying down another glaze on top of it) This works much better for me but I still use the odd additional layer for working on something complicated like hair or working out how something works within the painting like Nytiri's spots and stripes.

To get to the final painting I continued refining and adding detail, I tweaked Nytiri's nose and mouth a little more and drew in the lips. I spent some time adding more florescent blue to the shadows and doing my favorite part of any painting, working on the hair :-/ Finally I blended Nytiri's stripes and re-drew her spots.

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