Strelitzia

After this long break, which mostly happened because of my exams and travels, I wish to present you a new drawing. I think it took me month to finally finish it (half of it was painted during one single day so you can imagine how much time I had for drawing in the past month). Well I no longer plan to say that "it will be better from now on and I will have more time for painting" since I stopped believing in this myself, to be honest. But for now let's enjoy new painting and this freakishly long tutorial I've prepared for you.

If you have any questions or comments - I would be very happy to hear and answer them :)

Maybe it's strange, but I've started painting this one once before, long time ago. I've never finished it, I didn't like the result of my work. I started completely from the beginning, planning the composition and light differently this time, just the general idea remained the same as half year ago. So I sketched out the main idea and after that prepared some anatomical guide for the character. After that I finally drew a proper, detailed sketch for this drawing. Placing every detail on the sketch helps me imagine how it might look after I finish painting and it makes me more motivated to paint. Also thinking about the anatomy this early makes drawing too long leg or too small hand less likely.

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Then, on the separate layers, I place first colors with a hard brush. I plan lights and color palette this way, hoping it will be possible to make this look interesting and also make Agata and her cat the main focus point of the drawing. I move to her face right away and on the new layer above the sketch I start placing some colors. I use hard brush for now, as starting from the soft one made skin on my drawings look strangely smooth. For now I don't mind those hard and ugly transitions between colors, I just want to see basic shape and shadows. After playing around for a moment I add hair on the next layer (yes, there were many many layers) and also add some softer tones to her face. As you can see her hair is purple for now. It happened because I didn't want to use black in this color palette but I clearly overreacted here, I will fix this later on ;)

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Neck and below is painted both with hard and soft brush, sometimes I also use smudge tool for help. That part is not finished yet (as you can see sketch is still showing through) but I quickly move on to the dress, painting it on another layer. I was just placing elements at that time, without thinking about the details. Next I place coach and some random pillows on the right side. There is one pillow that didn't appear on the sketch - I added it since that empty space was bugging me. As you can see this is still planning and adjusting palette, nothing more.

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After painting those green bushes (by the way - see how magnificently they close this composition) I finally start painting background. I can't draw detail on Agata until it's done since I need to see contrasts and colors in the back. Otherwise her face will end up buried in the details of the wickerwork. So I want to paint this wicker in full detail and avoid adjusting it later on. I lower opacity of the sketch and on the separate layer (again) I start drawing wickerwork. Of course you could ask "why won't you do that with a line?". Answer is very simple - because wickerwork is not made of perfectly straight lines. It's crooked and messy, just like my hand-painted lines. It would look very artificial and strange otherwise.

At first I paint all main shadows and lights with a hard brush, then add some texture to the thick, upper part. Texture consists only of small dots, painted with low opacity, so that they are not very visible. I check how it looks from far away all the time since I am not sure how it should be done, I am just experimenting, testing. As you can probably imagine painting this wicker was the most boring part of this drawing. I guess there is no surprise here :D Also it's a bit messy but with it being so small and all, those hard transitions between lights and shadows do not bother anyone. It's completely ok to leave them like this.

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I add last elements of this wickerwork and move on to the face again. At first I smudge away all those hard transitions between colors, I don't want sharp edges in the middle of her cheek and so on. Slowly it's starting to look like a regular face and it seems I managed to avoid making her skin look artificially smooth. Worst thing about plastic skin is that there are large parts of the face where skin has exactly the same color when in reality such thing is not possible. Finally I add some skin texture with small dots, but it's barely visible - with face this small it's easy to overdo the texture. As a small experiment I add highlight on her cheek and shadow from the wickerwork. I painted it on the separate layer (just in case) and change that layer's blending mode to "overlay".

I place similar lights on her hair and also add some detail. As you can see her head is no longer purple, I added more dark brown shadows to kill that magenta. Simple hairstyle makes it easy to paint detail - it's just a bunch of almost-straight lines, painted with small, hard brush. Just don't paint them completely parallel and completely vertical as this will obviously look very strange. Random messy, bright hair also helps to make it look natural. Then comes the dress. As you can see there is no philosophy in this pattern, I didn't really try to make it look better and more convincing. I painted it with hard brush, first adding main lines and them filling in the gaps with random scribbles. Last thing is making some parts of the dress lighter as we need to show that it follows the curves of her body.

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Tired of drawing laces on the left side of her body, I switch to the hand. I needed some kind of change ;) I hide layer with bushes (it was disturbing me) and I paint some basic shape of the arm. Well, huge part of it won't be visible anyway so I don't care much for the details. I am constantly checking colors, so that I won't accidentally move out from the palette. I take my time with the hand though. I slowly add colors (mostly with a hard brush) and use smudge tool when I need to move some shadows or bones. I made a photo reference of my own hand for this - sometimes you just need some help and that's it, it's not like I can paint anything from my head ;D Below you can see progress shots for the hand.

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Time for some more wickerwork. Obvious sign of masochism, really... On the dark, flat color I constructed something that roughly resembles dense wickerwork. I'm not sure it worked the way I wanted it to and after many failed attempts I just decided I will settle with what I have and that's it. After painting this part of the couch I started drawing pillow, since it was closeby. It's easy to paint it with a hard brush, placing all main lights and shadows and then soften color transitions with a smudge tool. All those small folds can be done quickly that way, when you just place light and dark line and then smudge them together. Additional highlights are painted on the same layer I used before, when I added lights on Agata's face.

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Pillow looks ready so I go back to my couch and its terrible wickerwork. I copy-pasted a lot of this texture since I was already fed up with it. It worked well, I just had to adjust parts where my copy-pasted textures merged. That way I was quickly done with the furniture and didn't waste another hour on painting wickerwork, good for me. Next I painted very simple fabric on the rest of the couch, finishing its back part.

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I liked copying and pasting so much, that I decided to save myself some work and duplicate so parts of the drawing. I quickly made the mirror part of the wickerwork in the back, some more bushes and fragment of the couch. I added cat-toy in my character's hand and with a heavy heart I started to fill in that hole in the wickerwork. With a hard brush I added simple lines at first and then filled them up with some details, to make them look less flat. Then I added new layer with a "overlay" blending mode on the top and painted it with dark orange. This gave a nice, warm glow to the whole picture. Then I made wickerwork more interesting - I added vertical pole to break the pattern and put something in the most boring place of the whole picture. That way backstage is finished and started painting pillows on the couch as there were 3 more left to do. I painted them in a similar fashion like the one before, with a hard brush and smudge tool.

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I finish up the details on the pillows with a hard brush and finally add the main plant, which is mentioned in the title of this drawing ;) For now it's just a sketchy-something, which I will fix and adjust in a moment, but I need to get the idea about the light first. Also after I came back home and saw this on a better screen (don't trust laptop screens) I realized that everything is too damn orange and I added some blue hues to the shadows.

Then the marble pot. I wasn't sure if I am able to paint marble but it turned out not to be very difficult. On the new layer I added some dark lines with a standard brush and then distorted them a little with the smudge tool. Then some light, small dots were added and here you have it, marble texture. Plant leaves were smudged out of that sketch from before. Amazing how much you can achieve just with a smudge tool :D If it works too slow for you, you can try switching it strength to something around 95% (not 100% and no less than 90%, it tends to slow down then). Flowers were painted with a hard brush on the separate layer. As you can see they are not very detailed but it's not really important since they are small.

On the last drawing from the ones below you can see me adding light spots on the leaves, adjusting the lower part of the couch and the wickerwork on the right side since I didn't like it. I also start working on Agata's legs. It was a quick work since colors I placed on them before worked really well and I only needed to smudge those tones together and add some edges. I mostly used soft brush here to speed this up a little.

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Kitten, as it was white and super fluffy, wasn't a lot of work. I just drew his head and after that just used smudge tool to paint fur. Shadows were painted on the separate layer, so I could quickly adjust them or even erase them if they were too strong. I used layer in a "multiply" blending mode and layer with "overlay" blending mode, just to add some warmth to that shadow. Strong light makes edges look almost white and nicely cuts the kitten from its surroundings.

Lower part of her dress is done exactly like the upper part. I just paint the simple pattern and fill the empty holes with scribbles. Then on the separate layer I add more light with pink color, to make dress less flat. Near the edge I add some delicate shadow to show that dress is indeed lying on the leg, not just painted on it. Last element is adding highlights with wickerwork pattern, on her leg and couch.

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Drawing is ready, hopefully it was worth waiting for :)