Halloween Portrait

Around Halloween, it was time again for a new five-day portrait challenge from Paintable. Last time, this spring, was my first time trying it, and also my first time painting a portrait. At least in a serious way. Would I get a better result this time? Only one way to find out: I had to do it!

The task was like last time, except for one twist. Since Halloween was approaching fast, the final portrait should be of a monster; zombie, vampire, witch, whatever. Either make the monster from the start or take the finished painting and make it into a monster. I decided to make a vampire. A female one.

Start sketching

So I got my model, placed some lights where I wanted them to create the mood, and then I was ready to take the steps as usual.

Starting out with a clean sketch
And block in colours

Light, medium and dark skin tones. That’s how it’s usually done at this step. And I started that way, but … this time the lighting was more complicated. I had used both red and blue lights, and the shadows, were bluer. I had to fix that, so in my next step, the blue shadows were added in addition to the smoothing the colours.

OK, this is more like it!

With the colours I wanted in place, and smoothed out for a natural result, things are looking good. I still have to do something about that hair, and there are details that need to be taken care of.

Got her some jewellery and coloured contact lenses …

Hair straightened out and made look more like hair. Earrings were added, in the shape of bats, of course. She’s a vampire, after all. Should the eyes stay blue, or should they be more mysterious? Red or yellow were too common for monsters – I made them purple. The teeth were still too white, so I changed those, too, slightly.

I also added the lighting to the background, and some other details, slightly out of focus. It’s already a lot better than the one I did in spring, but I want a final touch-up.

Finished. My own Vampirella.

I wanted the hair to look even more like hair, so I spent some time brushing it. Digitally, at least. She got some slightly lighter irises, and some cute freckles were added. And a slight trickle of blood from the side of her mouth, after the free lovebites she’s been giving.

Am I happy with the result? Indeed I am!

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Sketching exercise

Exercise: Find a picture. Make a sketch of it, or rather three sketches, in 20, 15 and 10 minutes. Well, I did. The question is: How well did I do?

I do see that while I concentrated on different parts each time, I also got more secure in my lines. Even if I didn’t get all the measures correct each time … but if I did this exercise several more times, I’m sure the difference between the sketches would be larger.

Shipwreck, original, 20, 15 and 10 minutes
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My First Portrait

When I took the challenge of painting my first portrait ever in five days, problems arose. Did I overcome them, or not?

My digital painting of an apple started a new era, I said. Or wrote. To follow up on that claim, I need to show it, right? Show that I’m doing some digital painting now. I guess it’s time to rejoice just a little bit now then because the week after the “apple boot camp” the “one week portrait”-challenge started.

The same steps used in the previous boot camp were used now. Day one: Make a rough sketch/line art of the portrait. Get the proportions correct, but the details weren’t that important just now. So I did that.

Day two: Add the main colours; skin colour, including light and shadow versions. Same for lips, eyes, hair, clothes and whatever else is needed. Just add them in the main areas, leaving hard edges between the colours. I did that. It looked kinda weird, but I trusted the process.

Day three: I left for Easter, bringing my laptop and drawing tablet with me. The task was to blend the colours together to make it look nice. A little bit more focus on details. When I was ready to do it – my laptop failed me. Or rather, Photoshop failed me. When I opened the file I was working on, all that was showing was a white canvas. All the layers were there, but they didn’t show.

I could turn the different layers “visible” and “invisible” and save the ones I wanted as a flattened image, just one layer. A one-layer file would show, and I could edit it. Doing everything in just one layer.

Ouch!

That complicated things.

I would have to do things differently from how I normally would do stuff. More like painting with acrylics on canvas: I couldn’t just undo mistakes easily, and had to be a lot more careful. I did the best I could.

Day four: Take care of the details and textures. Again, I did what I could. My drawing tabled acted up, too, giving me a hard time.

Day five: Make the finishing touch to make it pop, and make it my style. I fought Photoshop, which I had made partly working, and my tablet. Was I victorious? At least I managed to post a result on the last day.

My finished portrait

Am I happy with the result? Actually, yes, I am. It’s not that I don’t see weaknesses and things that can be better, because I certainly do. But not only did I struggle with the software and hardware this time, but it’s also my first portrait ever. I don’t think I should be ashamed of this painting.

I like it.

Will I try to redo it later? Maybe. Or maybe I’ll just try painting a completely different portrait. Or something completely different. I do know I will continue with digital painting, but also with acrylics.

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A new era

OK, so it’s been a while since the last update. I must’ve made good use of all those tubes of acrylic paint by now then, right? Well, not right. Unfortunately. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to, quite the opposite, but for various reasons, it didn’t happen.

One reason is my limited space, having to sit by the kitchen table to paint. Slightly inconvenient.

I do have a balcony though, that should be a nice place when the temperature permits it, so when the temperature did rise and made it pleasant to sit there, I was quick to set up a nice place to paint there. My painting studio.

Alas, when I had done that – the temperature went down again. Making it too cold for me to sit down and paint.

Sigh.

So, when I saw there was a challenge to digitally paint the best portrait I’ve ever done, I couldn’t resist. I wanted to join that. While I’ve done various things with graphics, digitally, I haven’t really done any digital painting. So, I prepared myself with a crash course on painting an apple.

My version of the apple.

For my first real try at digital painting, I’m quite happy with it. Actually, I think I’d be quite happy with it with lots of experience, too.

So, what about the portrait challenge? I’ll write about it later – the challenge starts tomorrow. But the claim made, that it’ll be my best portrait ever so far, is given. It’ll be going to be my first portrait ever.

But I titled this “A new era” – will I stop painting with acrylics, going fully digital instead? Certainly not! It’s just going to be one more addition to things I’m interested in doing. And, maybe easier to sit down with for a little time than anything else?

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In the World Of Dragons

So, a fantasy motive, right? With a castle, and a flying dragon. Bathing in the moonlight. That should be my next painting. And as previously mentioned, I’ve started on it.

Of course, I can’t just pop outside and take a photo with my camera to have something to paint after. After all, there’s not exactly plentiful of castles around here …

But I don’t paint it completely freehand, either. I made a quick little mashup in Photoshop so that I have a motive to paint after. So while I don’t have a painting to show yet, I can at least show the photoshopped version. It will be exciting to see how close I get it. (It certainly won’t be identical.)

Dragon on the way home from a barbeque party …
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