Making Of 'Beautiful'
In this piece, I used a greyscale colourization technique. 'Colourization technique' is a computer-assisted process of adding colour to a monochrome image or movie. The process typically involves segmenting images into regions and tracking these regions across image sequences. Neither of these tasks can be performed reliably in practice; consequently, colourization requires considerable user intervention and remains a tedious, time-consuming, and expensive task (reference: http://www.cs.huji.ac.il/~alevin/papers/colorization-siggraph04.pdf). This technique is very useful because it saves time and is a very easy technique since we're only focusing on the shape, not the colours. Firstly,Â I always begin by filling in the background layers with a colour. For this piece, I started with this dark grey (Fig.01).
Later, I then start blocking and refining the sketch until it reaches the quality of Fig.02. In certain areas, like the hair and the eyes, I simply painted in a very dark grey.
For the brush strokes, I used the settings detailed in Fig.03, but constantly changed the opacity and flow depending on how I wanted it to look. In the brush tab, the other dynamic, both flow and opacity were set to pen pressure and both were given "jitter" settings of 0.
By the way, you can also use the modes to add highlights by using screen mode, or to add shadows simply use multiply mode with a soft-edge brush. (Fig.04).
In the early stages, I usually start with higher opacity and flow, blocking the shadows and the highlights. After I get everything looking just right, I reduce the opacity and flow to a lower value to achieve smoother grey colours. At this point, I refine the cheeks, nose and neck area a little, and I also add the eyelids and the hair. It's all about refining at this stage (Fig.05).
I then smoothed out the areas on her cheek and forehead. So now, her face looks less tense, especially in those areas around the cheek and the nose (Fig.06).
Please always remember: always flip the canvas to ensure that there is nothing wrong with the proportion, or simply take some rest - perhaps looking at something to relax your eyes - and then continue again. Always do this so that your eyes will take the image as a new one, and I bet you will be able to see what's wrong with your artwork!
I spotted a strong highlight on her cheek, so I painted it over with a darker grey, so that the highlight didn't look too bright. For me, smooth transitions between colours are more important than anything, because we can always add the brightness/contrast layer later to get a better contrast. The truth is that the hardest part in digital painting is to get the right form of shape that you want and I believe that this requires lots of practice and patience (Fig 7).
Satisfied with the greyscale, I then colourized it using a hue/saturation layer. I lowered the saturation a little so that the green wouldn't stand out too much (Fig.08).
Fig.09 :Â After Colourization, I painted in the skin tone colours in separate layers and I set the blending option for both to "Colour".
Fig.10 shows the first layer of the "Colour" layer. The colours look pale, so the second layer is used to saturate the pale colours.
Fig.11 is the combination of both "colour" layers. The first layer's opacity is 100% but the second layer was set to 30% because the colours were too unnatural. Both layers were painted using a soft-edge brush with the same setting as the previous brush.
(Fig.12) I added to the shoulder and the hair around the ears so that it filled the left side of the canvas more, then added more strokes around the right corner of the canvas - so now there are no more empty spaces. (Fig.13).
I added more red and purple colours to the lips on the "Colour" layer and I also added highlight to her iris/eyes. And now, it's texturing time! I add another new layer, and using a texture photo I got from the 3DTotal textures (Fig.14).
I found that using textures on digital painted pieces can add extra strength to the works. Usually, I used this texturing technique for photo manipulation but, doing a lot of experiments with textures and painted works, I think it suits this piece well also. After blending the texture image, I set the blending option to soft light. Now everything looks richer with textures and grain (Fig.15).
By the way, the texture image was re-sized to the size of the canvas and I also fixed up a few cracked spots with the Clone Stamp tool and also erased the details of the texture a bit with a soft-edge eraser, with the same settings as the airbrush. Then I added another new layer for the second texture, also from 3DTotal (Fig.16).
I re-sized it to the canvas size and set the blending option to soft light. The process of texturing is still the same; fixing the cracks and erasing some details from the textures -Â all because I don't want the textures to stand out too much. After all these hours of work, "The Beautiful" is finally complete. The greyscale colourization techniques are quite new to me, and this is the first piece that I have painted using this technique. I was initially inspired by Steven Stahlberg's technique, who happens to be one of the greatest digital artists in the world!
For a final touch, I added another layer for my signature.