Snake

Long time has passed since I've posted last portrait and I also realized, that this one, despite being quite an oldie already, hasn't been posted yet! I decided to fix that and so that's why today we will walk through this male portrait with a snake in the background. There will be a lot about drawing bones and spines, something about how to not color skin and what to do when you have anatomy issues on the face of your character :D

I hope that you will enjoy this tutorial and maybe learn something useful from it. If you have any questions or comments - I'll be happy to hear them!

I start with a sketch, trying to make it clean and helpful. When I was painting this portrait I still had some problems with male faces, constantly making stupid mistakes and so on. That's why I promised myself to fix this drawing until it looks good. I loved the concept and didn't want to destroy it with some poor anatomy. After sketching, on the separate layer, I put first color. Whole drawing is rather dark, a bit dull, I wanted that blood to be the brightest element of the whole drawing. After that I slowly start to color face of my character, using soft, round brush. I add darker and darker shadows and lighter and lighter lights, step by step with a low opacity brush, trying to make his nose and brows look good.

Snake Snake Snake

I add some more color, adding more light to the chin and at this moment I realize, that there is certainly something wrong with his face... But for now I decide to leave those slowly emerging anatomy issues and paint his eye. All the time I use only soft round brush and sometimes use smudge tool for mixing and moving lines. I also add some more warm colors (on his nose) since skin looks gray and dead. Then I paint his lips and add light on his jaw. You can clearly see, that there are problems with the lower part of his face. I cut of that part (cut goes through the lips and takes the jaw), I make it smaller, glue it all back together and rearrange a little. Brutal surgery is then hidden with the smudge tool. I also fix his nose and make the chin smaller.

Snake Snake Snake
Snake Snake Snake

Now if you ask me what brush did I use to paint that blood, I will just scratch my head - sorry, it was a standard round brush, both soft and hard. I make opacity lower and add spots with short brush strokes, until the whole thing looks good. Smudge tool also helps a lot, when I need to smear something or remove hard edges from the hard brush. Everything was painted with one color, dark red, but I duplicated the layer and for each of them I switch blending mode to multiply and overlay. That way lips are still visible.

Next I add eyelashes, eyebrows and some hair on the separate layer. In a moment I will also paint his ear, at first you can see me placing it on the head. I sketch it on the separate layer so I can easily hide hair behind it or remove those guidelines when I don't need them anymore. For painting ear I use soft brush, slowly building brighter areas. I use low opacity brush and with each stroke I add more light to certain parts.

Snake Snake Snake

Here you can see great change. Skin was too dead and dull and that made the whole picture rather boring to look at. I added new layer in the overlay blending mode and that way I gave lots of warm color and light to his face, making it the main focus point for the viewer. I also changed his eye, hopefully for the better ;) Finally I added his neck and arms, but at this moment I already knew, that I will ave to repaint them since his determined look doesn't go well with slouching and rounded shoulders.

Snake Snake Snake

And now the time has come to paint the snake skeleton. On the separate layer, under my character's head I start painting the bones. Sketch was essential here, guiding me, since the structure is a bit complicated. I paint mostly with the soft brush, systematically adding shadows and light, at first gently, later adding more contrast and deepening the shadows. I try to use many colors, like adding shades of blue to the shadows. And bit by bit snake's head is starting to look promising. I fix edges, erasing some undesired parts as I paint.

Snake Snake Snake

When the skull is ready I add some texture to the background. You can easily find such brushes in the Internet. Well, I cannot offer them here for download since they are not mine (and I don't really know who made them) but here you go: BRUSHES Pick what you like and use it :) Texture is placed on a new layer with multiply blending mode and that's it, one click. Then I start working on the spine. I won't try to convince that there was no copy-pasting here, actually just the opposite... Slowly and patiently I build the spine from little block I painted. When spine is done I merge it into one layer and add a clipping mask (add new layer on top of the spine, right-click and pick the option form the menu) in a multiply blending mode. This way I can easily add a shadow and make the spine a bit less visible. Then I add missing ribs, just the same way. Last part is adding the tail bones, close to character's head. Those I paint without copying parts. Last thing is adding the shadows and that's it, snake is ready.

Snake Snake Snake
Snake Snake Snake
Snake Snake Snake

At last I erase neck and below and paint everything from the scratch. I take colors from his face, to avoid changing color palette for this drawing which is already decided. Most part of his shoulders is in shadow since I don't want them to be the main focus point. Sadly I need to move the snake a bit now, since it ends too quickly. I also add a bit of light on the guy's hair. Here you need to be careful not to draw a carpet on his head. Hairs need to merge into locks, blocks. So there is a part of hair which is bright and shiny and part where it's dark because hair bends and doesn't reflect light. Last touch is adding some skin texture, but same thing happens with the snake - a bit of spots and dot's to make the whole picture less smooth.

Snake Snake Snake

And that's it! You can see whole process below once again :)