The making of ‘111’
Alejandro Arévalo demonstrates how he used the Photoshop Mixer brush to create a traditional style dark portrait.
In this tutorial I will show you how I created a dark portrait by emulating a traditional painting style and demonstrate how to give your work a dark twist and with a history.
Step 1: Play with brushmarks
It's a good practice to start a painting with shapes, brushmarks and silhouettes, it's like finding animals and things in the clouds, but in this case you can control the amount of mess you want to create with the brushes. You have to keep in mind that you aren't able make a masterpiece with the first brushmark; you probably will have to do a lot until you find one brushmark you like.
I recommend using a textured brush and different shades as this will improve the complexity of the piece.
Step 2: Sketch over the brush shape
Once you have the brushmark that you like, you will be able to draw on it, try not to make too many details in the drawing, since at this stage only need to know that you going to do with it.
Step 3: Sketch of the sketch
Now you know what you're going to do, but maybe the sketch you make on the base silhouette is not dynamic or is just a generic character, this step is crucial because it is the opportunity to think about your piece and add your personal touch and details. Try to clean your sketch at this stage as a mess of lines can obstruct the next steps in the process.
Step 4: Use references
Always is good have a reference of the real world, a skull for example is very complex, has a lot of details that go unnoticed and the color of the bones have beautiful shades that you can use to add realism.
Create a workspace that provides an area to view your photo references in the first stages of your work, as it will help you stay focused and evade continuously stopping your work to search for references on the internet.
Step 5: Emulating traditional painting
There are a lot of ways to simulate a traditional painting, specifically oil paint. In this case we are going to use the Mixer brush, this tool has a lot of options, and I suggest you play with the configuration and find what configuration adapts more to you. Also keep in mind that your tablet configuration and the shape of the brush will affect this tool.
Step 6: Enjoy painting
Work with the Mixer brush requires patience; you need to experiment with color and shades to create textures. Is not a technique for all, but using it in the right way gives the work a very characteristic style depending on how much detail you want to do in the piece.
Step 7: Attention points
At this point the piece is almost finished, but it is important to guide the viewer through the image, and highlighting the important parts helps the narrative of the portrait- in this case the cup of tea and the skulls.
Step 8: Play with layer effects
The piece is finished, but lacks atmosphere, so in this case you need to play with the tools of the software- filters, saturation, color balance, etc... One easy way is to play with layer effects. It is very simple and with the correct combination of these configurations gives the piece the dark tone we need.
Top tip 1:Painting a skull
Bone has incredible shades of color, all depending on factors like age and lighting. As you can see in the image a bone is rich in colors- even with frontal light- that gives realism and strength to the picture.
Top tip 2: Use vectors
You need to guide the viewer to the focal points. Even if the light is focused on the areas of interest, you must give them importance by using other parts of the image to point to area you wish to draw attention to.