Medium: Painter IX, Photoshop CS + Wacom Intuos 2 Graphics tablet. Tools: Soft Oil Pastel, Smear blender brush, Airbrush. Photoshop was used to reposition layers.
Lately I've been crazy with the holidays, but I have been slowly working on a digital piece that was commissioned back in the summer. When I start a digital piece, I do it one of two ways. I draw out the image on actual paper and then refine and finally scan it, or I just start drawing directly on the computer. With this piece, you can see that the latter method is the one that I chose for this particular piece. I made a gradient background to tentatively mark out where the light will be coming from, and to get the mood for the image started from step one.
I made some significant changes here since the original sketch was done. I changed the angle on the dragon to the far right, as well as the one on the bottom. Something about the sketch didn't look quite right to me so I made the adjustments while I was still early on in the process. I also blocked in the basic colors and shading that will be refined further into the painting process. I also changed the format of the painting to a more horizontal layout. At this point, I need to define where my lighting is going to be coming from, in this case is is going to be from the lower right corner.
I made some further adjustments to the pose of the dragon in the lower left, I didn't like the way the wings were positioned, and repainted it to sit behind him like shown. I also messed with the dragon on the top left, changing the position of the wings after looking at references for bats and how they look when they fly.
I have also roughed in the background, and done some detailing to the sky, and added in the tops of trees/bushes in the lower right hand to give it a sense of space/perspective.
I took a break from this piece for about a month due to the holiday rush at my other job, and after coming back to it I did some more refining work on the red dragon specifically, adding in the stronger shading to start the detailing that will eventually lead to the finished product.
There are arrows originating from the lower right corner, marking where my light source is coming from, and aiding me in keeping the lighting and shadows consistent throughout the piece. This will help when trying to figure out where shadows will be thrown and where they will end up. I also do not work on any one specific part of the painting at any one time, but more around with where I'm concentrating on. This helps to keep the painting together, avoiding having one section be "more finished" than the rest. At this point in the painting, you should have your anatomy and position more or less finalized, because the next step is starting to add in all the small details and fixing things at that point becomes a real chore.
And that brings me to where I have left off as of yesterday.
I used Photoshop to set my lighting guides layer to screen, so it would not interfere with my work but was still visible over the painting itself.
The red dragon and the blue dragon got some detailing and refining, I painted in the spines on the backs, and started to be nit-picky about detailing at this point. The next step after this is adding in the scale details, and adding the final highlights and shadows. I do not use black when I paint, but I try more to use a dark version of the complementary colors in the subject, ie. red/green, blue/orange, and purple/yellow. Warm light casts cool shadows, cool light tends to cast warmer shadows. In this piece we have more of a warm lighting mood, due to the oranges in the sky from the sunset. Therefore my shadows have more of a purple/bluish tone to them than they would at say dawn or mid-day.
Cool colors include, blue, green, violet, blue-violet.
Warm colors are reds, oranges, orange-yellows, and red-violet. Purple is a fun color to shade with as it can be either a warm or a cool color.
We will cover highlights in a future entry.