Umbrellas

I painted this one for a very close friend of mine, luckily she liked it very much so I can also be happy how it turned out. I wasn't really sure if this will be worth showing while I was in the middle of work, especially when I was constantly short on time. Finally I managed to paint the most of it during one day. Well, I hope something in this drawing might catch your interest and that you will enjoy this tutorial about folds and umbrellas.

And as always: if you have any questions or comments I will be very happy to hear them :)

I start with the sketch, trying to put the whole idea on the screen. As you can see I don't draw all those folds, there is no point in that. It will just take time, I choose to postpone this battle and define them later. You can also see that I left out some elements, like hand print on girl's face. I decided I don't want to destroy her face. Then I pick the color palette. It's a bit dull, mostly blue, with some purples and grays. I also added some red parts to break this monotony but still - saturation is very low and maybe that's why I didn't enjoy this drawing for most of the time. Only in the end, when I saturated all those colors, I came to love it. Well, I should have tried doing that in the beginning...

Umbrellas Umbrellas Umbrellas

I pick face for the first element to paint. Lately I don't paint portraits at all and I somehow started to miss them. Strange, I know. Well, at first I just smudge out all those hard edges below the sketch, I don't want them to show through. Then on the new layer above the sketch I add first colors. I define shadows (with lots of red, since I don't want her to look dirty or dead) and lights (some cold pink tones, I avoid yellow this time, cause it would create a great contrast with all those blue and purple tones). Then I draw eyes with a very dark red and this really helps to see the girl. Ugly edges are taken care of with a help of a smudge tool.

Then I fix the shape of her face, which is troublesome for a moment, because something constantly doesn't feel right. In the end I realize I really need her to have some hair so I paint it on the new layer and get back to the face again. I erase blurry edge, make her lips a bit bigger and fix left part of the nose. Way better now. Hard edges are now smudged out and covered with soft brush with very low opacity. I constantly pick colors from the face, to avoid strange spots later on.

Umbrellas Umbrellas Umbrellas
Umbrellas Umbrellas Umbrellas

I fix face some more, adding more shadows. Her hair was also made more round, since for a moment she looked as if she had a hole in her skull, I don't want that. I remove part of the cheek since it was too big and I don't see anything I would like to fix anymore so I let her be for now. I move to hands, since they should be in the same color range. I pick color from the face when I need them, do not trust your eye! :D Light comes from the left so I put the right side of her arm in a deep shadow. Contrasts will make it look more interesting and less flat. And since the light is already set, I added some white strands to her hair, as if it was very bright from the light. I use smudge tool for that - only few lines and a bit of smudging and it's all done.

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Then I erase edges around her arms (they look ten times better after that) and start painting the dress under them. Slowly I move further, to the more complicated parts, unsure what will come out of my struggles. I use mostly hard brush, but I sometimes make it a tiny bit soft, so that edges aren't so crispy. You can easily adjust that as you paint using the keyboard. When you paint dresses like this, it's good to first see and draw main blocks of folds and only after that move on to details. When I am sure I know how I want particular fold to look like, I add an edge with hard brush and bright color and then a shadow. Smudge tool is helpful here, you just smudge along the strokes of a brush and everything becomes smooth and light. I also added deep shadow behind the girl, so that background would be bit darker.

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I add more folds, first just placing them with light color and after that adding shadows. When I need to place something more defined, I use hard brush and sketch shadows and lights and after that I use smudge tool to create folds. It's important how you actually place all those folds. It's was better to paint while looking at some reference photos or even take some cloth and place it near you, so you can always take a look if you feel lost. It's not so hard to find some reference and it really makes painting this a lot easier ;) Slowly this all starts making some sense when I build contrasts between lights and shadows, adding more and more color. I don't pay much attention to the details, this kind of fabric looks even better when it's not all super smooth. So those micro-folds are completely fine. Please notice how the leg under the fabric is painted, you can see it's shadow under the folds but it's a bit blurry.

Umbrellas Umbrellas Umbrellas
Umbrellas Umbrellas Umbrellas

I add some more light and shadow on the dress, using new layer with overlay blending mode and I think that's it for the lower part of the dress. I move back to her arms, erasing edges again and polishing them with a soft brush and insanely low opacity (around 5%). Notice how those deep shadows make arms look more interesting. Such posture, when they are just stretched out like this, it's not very interesting so I used light to add something to it.

After that I used smudge tool on those fabrics attached to girl's back but I didn't do anything more than that. I move to her neck and hair, also fix upper part of the dress. I add more thin strands and shadow under the hair, to make it look more natural. I don't touch the face anymore, I am quite pleased with it. You can see that there is sometimes a lot of blur in the hair, it's because I used smudge tool to get rid of hard strands of hair. I like them light and floaty, not just hard blocks of black.

Umbrellas Umbrellas Umbrellas
Umbrellas Umbrellas Umbrellas

Finally time comes for those umbrellas. First one was really a mess at first, but when I finally grasped the idea, it went smoothly with all the others. Let's take a close look. It's actually quite simple. We have some dark and light lines for the skeleton of the umbrella and they are merge in the center when you need to put "something". A black, upside-down bowl will do, as you can see.

So we start with a big circle for our main umbrella and on the separate layer you need to draw all the lines. You can use line tool for that and if they look too artificial just add a bit of Gaussian blur. Note that spaces between lines should be around the same. Then I erase partially a bit fragment of those lines, leaving only the ends and some parts in the middle. Then add something in the center, I have no idea what that is but it works :D Then I add light lines, just like the dark ones before, notice that they are always on the same side of the black ones, working as lights on the sticks. I also add some subtle texture on the separate layer, but leave the edges brighter.

Umbrellas Umbrellas Umbrellas
Umbrellas Umbrellas Umbrellas

Then the time comes for those hand prints and I also added a deeper shadow on the bottom part. You can do that easily with multiply layer. I chose dark red for the shadow. All other umbrellas are really just copy pasted! I just changed sizes and colors, changing some details and adding shadows. It was really really quick to build the whole background ;)

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I add new layer in overlay blending mode and put some light on it, in shape of rays. It looks nice on the umbrellas in the back and on the character. That was a good move to make whole picture more interesting. Then I need to finish those hanging fabrics (I almost forgot about them...!). I rearrange them with smudge tool, only occasionally adding something with a brush. On the separate layer in multiply blending mode I add the red part. In the close up you can see that I really didn't try too hard with those :D

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Last thing is giving this picture a bit more saturated look and improving the contrasts. And here you have it, it's finished :)