Dance

I hope you will like this drawing, it was a big jump for me! The hardest part was building up my courage to actually paint something this complicated (yeah, for me it is complicated). Later, as you will see for yourself, I just painted one detail after another and it somehow went smoothly. I hope I will manage to show you some interesting details in this tutorial and maybe motivate you a little ;)

If you have any questions - I am listening. Comments and critique is welcome too!

At first I plan the whole composition. I wanted faces of both my characters to be visible so I drew them like this and to make this pose less static I made girl's dress flow. In the background I wanted to put many other characters but I wanted them to be less visible, I didn't want them to attract too much attention. Composition was supposed to be closed by some lanterns which you can see on the left side. Then, on the separate layer, I added my first try in colors for this picture. I decided how the light will go in this scene and which colors I want to use - I wanted it to be rather warm, with orange tones in lights and purple shadows. Actual painting starts with main heroine face which I sketch once again. Why? Because before I didn't really care about anatomy and just sketched whatever I wanted to place on the picture. Now I am more careful.

Dance Dance Dance

Right under my new sketch layer I put some colors. As you can see I am using hard brush for that. Sometimes it's easier this way, especially when face is small and soft brush would destroy all edges. Hard transitions between colors will be later softened with the smudge tool. As for now I just pick colors for the skin, arrange shadows and lights. Outer edge of her face will be very bright because of the lights in the background. This will also help to "cut out" those two characters from the crowd in the background. With the help of smudge tool I get rid of those hard transitions between colors and then add some more colors with soft brush. Soon whole face is fully detailed. Ah, one more thing - at some point I realized that colors are a bit too dull so I added new layer in the overlay blending mode and painted some warm colors on it. That way I added warm glow to her face.

Dance Dance Dance

I paint her hair just like I always do. At first, with a very dark color, I paint base shape of the whole hairstyle and sketch out the flow of strands. Then I add more and more colors and brighter tones, making my lines thin. Smudge tool helps me fix the edges on her fringe and dodge tool becomes useful to add more light so some parts (like at the top). All those ribbons and such are painted with the hard brush, to make the edges clear. And, I say this every time I paint hair but oh well..., you should really use many colors and not be afraid to make the hair a little bit messy. It helps to make it look more natural.

Dance Dance Dance

Finally I sketch the second face and color it just like the one before - at first I add shadows and lights, then with smudge tool and soft brush I make the transitions softer and add details. Well his face really didn't want to look good from far away (what you look at is the 100% size) so it took few plastic surgeries to finally make me happy with his head. I also need to erase this underlaying light to some extent as it was making edges on the face harder to see. After this long battle, second face is finally on it's place.

Dance Dance Dance

Faces and hard to paint and very important but hands certainly take the second place... ;D Once again I carefully sketch girl's arm and slowly add colors on the same layer, covering the sketch. I try to use the same palette as in the face. On the images below you can see how I build the shape with stronger and stronger shadows and lights. One again I need to paint over my background layer. You can't paint with the white background but this method also has it's cons as I constantly need to go back and get rid of some annoying lights. Hand remains unfinished, I will leave it for the dessert. I move to the dress now!

Dance Dance Dance

First I sketch the general shape of the dress since I have no idea what I want to paint in fact. I wanted to put the lace on her back so for a long while I was slowly drawing those small flowers and such. The only thing worth pointing out here is that you need to paint a shadow under it to make it look convincing. Also do not paint it in one color, as you can see the part on the edge of girl's back is much brighter than the rest. After laces I put corset on her, accidentally almost killing my heroine. I realized my mistake later on and fixed it ;) Then comes the lower part of the dress and those folds. That was a challenge! I used hard brush to paint some messy folds and plan them and then smudge tool to make some transitions soft (not all of them, we need some edges). It looked pretty convincing so I added more color and contrast to my dress and those white feather-like stuff, just to make it more interesting.

Dance Dance Dance
Dance Dance Dance

His suit wasn't that problematic, I didn't really want to play with fabric anymore so I just added this dark spot in place of his clothes, left outline for the arm and moved on. I added two missing hands of my characters and I suppose that was a good move - they look more involved with each other now. I really wanted to show some emotions here. Then I started painting background. I finally got rid of this first-colors layer and added some simple gradient with the soft brush. All those experimental textures are not really important (I will paint over them later on). On the separate layer I drew the dancing crowd and with my hands shaking I started to fill it with color.

I tried to paint this colorful crowd as a whole, to avoid making one character stand out from the others. I painted this illustration over two weeks or so, sometimes I had only half of an hour in the whole day to play with it so difference in style between two characters could be big if I painted them one after another. And some trick you might have not noticed - no one from the crowd is looking at the viewer. Well this is so they do not attract attention. This way my special pair won't disappear and blend with the crowd.

Dance Dance Dance
Dance Dance Dance

Time comes for the special effects. Apart from changing the light a bit I add some floating petals on the separate layer and blur them out with a filter. Some of them are behind my main couple and some of them are in the front. All those messy trees vanished too as I didn't like the idea too much. Dancing in the forest would be too uncomfortable. On the other hand I added some lame grass and turned light into a very orange and bright cloud just above the crowd's head. And in a moment it changes into lines of colorful lights. How to do that? If you look closely those are just round soft brush stamps - separated and in different colors and sizes. Making them glow like that is very simple if you add new layer in overlay blending more and paint some spots in a bright colors. Some of them were blurred too. Basically - you don't need to over think it. Just add as many as you want, in different colors and sizes. Last thing is that ugly tree on the front, just to close the composition.

Dance Dance Dance

When everything is already on the right place I go back to my couple and fix some details. There are edges to be corrected, hands to be painted and some detail to be added. Folds on the dress become more visible as I increased contrast and deepened the shadows. I also add more detail on the feathers since it was impossible to say what that white smudge actually is. Guy gets his missing hand, I also fixed some edges on other hands. I fix his jacket and add some subtle texture with small, orange dots.

Dance Dance Dance

I add some more warm colors and sharpen the whole picture a little but. One last thing is adding the signature and it's done! I hope it was worth the time... :)