Making Of 'Marsh Dweller'

I read a book about marsh dwellers recently. It described their lives so well, that new ideas for illustrations appeared by themselves. With this picture I wanted to represent their life, the beauty of a women's body and her feelings that she had, being unfortunately in love.

I usually don't make such precise sketches. Most of the time I don't use sketches at all, but this time I hat to hand draw my ideas down. I used soft 2B and 3B pencils, because it is easier for me to stress out the lines and to shade. The human anatomy is extremely hard to imitate. Every mistake, every detail affects the final appearance. I knew that I'd fix anatomical irregularities in further process, so I didn't bother with that in the sketch. The composition and general appearance was the main purpose here on this stage.

I scanned the sketch and opened it in Photoshop. I didn't bother with any settings for the sketch, I only used it for reference in the background layer. I helped myself with Poser for anatomy. Then I placed the poser figure in similar position as on my sketch and rendered. I used that render for reference of the body and certain difficult parts (such as hands, feet, face... etc.). I drew each body part on a new layer. That way I had more control over the painting, and if I wasn't satisfied with certain part, I could change it! That method is especially recommended for beginners or if you don't know how you wont the illustration to look like from the beginning. I used the lasso tool to outline the part I wonted to draw and then filled it with skin tone color. To give the body some form, I used dodge and burn tool in all modes, to give it some saturated and bright light and darker shadows. The sun I was to meke in further process was the starting-point of shading. I then smoothed the skin with 30% smudge tool and blur tool.

When I was done with the body, I started painting the hair. I used the medium brown brush and painted the whole hair plane. Than I used the same method of dodging and burning for shading. I didn't bother with the size of the brush, because after shading, I used 80% 3pixel wide smudge tool, to give the hair some form and flow.

Next was the pier. I found some photos of bark and studied the pattern. I used the same method of painting for the trunk as before... Lasso tool, brush, dodge and burn tool and than smudge tool to give it a bark pattern! Once I painted one trunk, I copied that layer as many times as I needed it, resized and rotated it the way it fitted best, to make the hole pier.

I started doing the background. It is a very important component of the picture witch helps giving the impression, atmosphere you wonted. That way, the illustration gains perfection. I helped my self with Terragen to do that! I didn't wont to screw up the picture at this important point, that's why Terragen was the perfect choice. I just rendered hills and lake, and than added the sun and reflection in Photoshop. I had to correct the colors and ad the clouds. They were done quite simple, with large brush and then finalised with smudge tool. I thought it would be hard to do, but if you stick with the light source it's easy.

The illustration was almost done. All I had to do was to add some details like jewellery, flowers, lotus, birds... etc. and make some color corrections.
In total, it took me about 30h to finish this picture. I used Photoshop, Poser and Terragen, and I drew everything with Wacom Intuos2 A4.

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