Making of 'Spanish Girl'
This image was created as a request by my Grandmother; she wanted something for her dining room wall. I had plenty of things to choose from, but I thought it would be nice to paint something that she could identify with. Instead of aiming to create a photo-realistic or a cartoon-like image, I made something in between, which I believe is a better style to have on a wall.
The first thing I did was to have a look for some fine-art references, to gain inspiration for this kind of painting. I did a few tests, specifically thinking about the face (Fig.01 - 04) and how I wanted it to be the focal point of the picture (Fig.05 - 06). After trying several times, I decided to give it a bit more of a uniform look, so that the picture was still powerful from a distance, as well as close-up. This was the most difficult decision for me. I'm so used to thinking about how a picture would look from a closer view, such a screen or small prints, whereas this artwork has been originally created for a DIN A3 print.
The very first idea was to create a completely monochromatic picture. My first attempt was black and white, but then I thought that an older-looking picture (Fig.07) would be nice. My Grandmother loves colour, so I converted to practice with colours to try and make it more interesting. This image had monochromatic lighting, which was a little flat, so that I didn't overload the picture. I still kept in the heavy shadows, but this was a personal choice for this particular piece of work. I wanted white clothes so that they contrasted well with the rest of the image. I chose a warm palette to work with because it simply looks more relaxing, and the references that I had used as inspiration didn't display any cooler colours at all in the clothing details. It is a very basic palette, and I didn't use any colour variation for the semi-darkness or the shadows.
For this particular work I have basically used a standard soft brush (Fig.08), which is very good to work with to cover large areas and to blend colours to make them look soft, and also to keep the gradients very fluid. Another brush that I used a lot was the hard-edged brush (Fig.09). The hard-edged brush gives a lot of texture, and a natural look and feel to the painting. (Fig.08 and Fig.09 show the exact settings that I used for pretty much everything.)
I always like to use some textures to give irregularity and detail to some parts that would be too complex to paint. (Fig.10) shows those textures that I have used to give the clothing its detail. These textures are overlaid, or multi-layered, in almost all cases. There is a very handy feature in 2D programs that allows you to duplicate your windows (Fig.11), which can be used to work from a closer view, whilst the other views update the changes - remaining at your desired zoom-level (Fig.12). The detail work has been done with the same tools used for the rest of the picture, but using the window instance tool for a closer view.
Another trick that is very often used in digital art, is to play with the canvas position. Most 2D packages have an option that allows you to flip the canvas horizontally - this option is very good, and almost essential whilst working. The fact is that when I use this option, and I flip the canvas, then the picture is like a new, very different version from what I was used to, and all the flaws in the artwork instantly appear. It is then perfectly easy to critique your own work, and decide what has to be fixed.
This work has been done in my spare time, and I believe this way has allowed me to see things that I wanted to change, and gave me enough courage to redo anything that I personally wanted. For example, I did many more changes on the character's face than I originally expected to. Now, I am more inclined to change a major part of my artwork - even if it's in an advanced or almost at the final stage. This means that I'm now more of a non-conformist with the result, and this helps me to push my knowledge a little further. From working on this picture, the most important thing that I have taken from the whole experience, is working with colour. The fact that colours give a picture a lot more feeling, helps to better explain the overall concept. After looking at the picture many times, and having read comments and critiques from other artists, there are a few things I would now do differently, looking back. I feel that a less saturated and lighter background would greatly enhance the work. I would also experiment with a less decorated skirt, on a white colour, and try out different cloth textures. I believe this would make the torso look shorter, and would give more wrinkles to the skirt. The white head cloth I would also to be covering her a little more.
To see more by David Munoz Velazquez, check out Digital Painting Techniques: Volume 5
Digital Painting Techniques: Volume 6
Sketching from the Imagination: Fantasy
Digital Art Masters: Volume 7
and Prime - The Definitive Digital Art Collection