Making of 'La Mirada'
I took a trip to the NY Society of Illustrators to visit the 2009 Illustration Annual Exhibition. While I was there one piece in particular caught my attention. It was called "Gibson Girl" by Sterling Hundley. Much like Charles Dana Gibson's illustrations, the woman in Hundley's illustration had the famous hairstyle most commonly seen in Gibson's work. So this inspired me to follow in those footsteps and create a portrait of a woman with this hairstyle.
Every one of my illustrations starts out with a very tight drawing on paper, usually from some sort of photo reference or previous sketch. It is at this stage where I plan out the composition, lighting and values of the piece, as seen in Fig.01. This stage usually takes a couple of hours. After this the drawing is scanned at 300DPI and taken into Photoshop for the digital paint process.
In Photoshop, I usually start out by blocking in solid colors in the shapes of the main forms (Fig.02). After this I set the drawing layer to Multiply, at an opacity of anywhere from 50%-75%. This all depends on the overall value range of the piece: if the piece is very dark, like this one, I have to set it at a higher opacity; if the piece has a very light value range then I usually set the drawing layer at anywhere from 25%- 40% (Fig.03).
After the initial colors are blocked in, I begin by painting in the darkest shadows to kind of set the tone; now I know not to go any darker than this anywhere else on the face (Fig.04).
This is the end of the first pass. I've put down the rough forms on the face, hair, scarf and earrings and now the piece is beginning to develop (Fig.05 - Fig.07). I am not satisfied with the color of the skin so I use the Sponge Tool and the Brush Tool in Color Overlay Mode to saturate the color on the overall piece. I also use the Burn and Dodge Tools to create some more contrast in the hair to make it a bit more noticeable (Fig.08).
Now I begin the second stage. I create a new layer and begin refining the roughness of the first pass by smoothing it out and giving the skin a very polished look, especially in the face and shoulder regions (Fig.09 & Fig.10).
And finally, I am now at the last step. It is at this stage where I really begin to refine the areas of the hair. The values of the hair actually had to come down because they were causing my eyes to go straight up into the highlights of the hair. I sometimes get carried away and start adding highlights to everything in a piece, coming to realize when I'm approaching the end that I have to focus the viewer's eyes on one particular part of the piece, which in this case is the face.
I also focused on the design and values of the earrings. The earring on the left looked better when I pushed it back into the darkness and drew more attention to the one the right which was directly under the light source. Another major change was actually the nose. I changed the shape of the nose and the direction it pointed until I was satisfied that the nose looked more human. Prior to the change, I felt it was drawing way too much of the viewer's attention (Fig.11).
Here are two progress charts to show how the piece developed (Fig.12 & Fig.13).
Click on images 12 & 13 to enlarge
I definitely learned quite a bit from this project as it was my first digital illustration that didn't include a scene or multiple characters of some sort. It took a total of 5 days to complete, somewhere around 45 hours to be exact. This was definitely one of my faster projects due to the fact that it's only a portrait. I was glad to have the opportunity to take time to work on a single face and not have to worry about a background, for I have left this one plain and dark.
I'd like to thank 3DTotal for the opportunity to create this tutorial. It's been a pleasure.
To see more by Irvin Rodriguez, check out Beginner's Guide to Digital Painting in Photoshop
and Prime - The Definitive Digital Art Collection