Escape

I honestly don't know why I wanted to paint this scene, I guess I just wanted something slightly more complicated and forest seemed to be good enough as a challenge. It's an illustration for a story I wrote (which you can't read, sorry). I am not very happy how it came out but at least I didn't give up on it. I started painting that forest from nothing like 3 times, only after that it started to look acceptable. Let's see what made it easier for me ;)

If you have any questions or comments - write, don't be shy! You don't need to register to comment ;)

First some sketch. The only thing I focused on are the characters. There is no point to draw particular trees, I didn't even know at that point how to start working on this background. I put some basic colors under the sketch, just to see what kind of light I like the most. For the moment I pick green as the main color, later on I switched to blue. At first forest is just a dark rectangle and some light in the back. Then, on the separate layers, I paint first and further planes and arrange trees. Near the front trees are darker and wider, in the back they are thin and they blend into the background.

Escape Escape Escape

Next I grab a brush with some texture (you can really find them in Photoshop, there are brushes there that look like rectangular sponges, those are good for making bark) and with some brighter color I add some lights on the sides of trees, to make them look less like flat poles. Plane after plane I add simple detail with my texture brush. Further you are from the front, contrasts are weaker and colors lighter and more dull. At the top I add some blurry leaves, just to close the composition. I add some fog, which is painted with a very soft brush on the separate layer. Finally I merge everything, make it a bit more blurry and change the color palette since I like blue more. All of this is only a sketch so I don't really need it spread onto several layers anymore.

Escape Escape Escape
Escape Escape Escape

Painting faces of my two character starts with adding a layer with some color base. The hardest thing here was actually picking the right colors. I chose dull-purple shadows and dull-orange lights. Colors in shadow are usually less saturated, that's why dull tones. After that I yet again sketch out main face features for those two and add some turquoise highlight coming from the back. I build eyes, adding more and more details and still using only hard brush and smudge tool for blending. At first I use small lines to add new color, then I squint my eyes to see if it looks alright. I add more and more detail, constantly checking if from far away everything looks acceptable. Painting faces that are small on the drawing is actually harder than painting a big portrait. Also I am not all that good with such things so I make mistakes all the time but I try to fix them as soon as I notice that something looks wrong.

Escape Escape Escape
Escape Escape Escape

Finally I add last details such as small dots (why do I even do that? Nobody will notice...), fix eyebrows and eyelashes to be darker and adjust contrast to be more visible. Hair is almost (almost! you should avoid using pure black) black so it's not really hard to draw and I quickly start blocking colors for clothes on the new layer. Then I use smudge tool to blend all those hard lines into something more pleasant, building folds on the blanket and shaping the jacket. You can see that I use turquoise for highlights as I did on the face before. Slowly I add more and more details, smudge away all ugly transitions and so on. On the blanket I add small fringe with smudge tool, just to make it look more fluffy. On the jacket I placed buttons and small pocket. Last thing is small-dots texture and that's it. Those characters are small anyway, I've done enough. After this I sketch out legs and hands which are missing, blocking colors with hard brush. I try to use same hues as for the faces.

Escape Escape Escape
Escape Escape Escape

Those legs and hands, painted with hard brush, are afterwards of course treated with a lot of smudge tool. I can block colors quicker with hard brush and with a little help from smudge tool I have a decent base. Then I fix edges, making them sharper (eraser!) and add some light, also shape knees a little since they looked strange. On hands I at first need to add some more detail since they looked a bit artificial from far away. Also one with the knife had to be cut off and repositioned since after I made the blanket bigger it didn't work anymore. Sometimes changes like those are unavoidable! Last touch is adding a deeper shadow on the girl, which can be done with a new layer in overlay blending mode.

Escape Escape Escape
Escape Escape Escape

After I quickly add some hair and blood on girl's head (yes, I kind of broke her), I move to bark. At first I just add highlighted edges and those which are very dark. This is all done in a pretty chaotic, random way. It's not possible to paint every single fragment of tree bark and stay sane after drawing the whole forest. It would take ages too. So I add some more scribbling lines and sprinkle it all with many many dots, both light and dark. That way my lines are less prominent. I fix some of those dark lines and also add a bit brighter edges to many of those bark islands, to make them stick out a little. Main thing here is making those islands, as I called them a moment ago, in a right shape - that's why my black lines are a bit wiggly and random. When I have a bit of bark done I just copy that fragment and paste in on the other part of the tree and just change the light (for example with new layer with overlay or multiply blending mode).

Escape Escape Escape

With the use of copy-paste method bark on the main tree is done very quickly ;) The only thing that's left to do is to fix all other trees... I do it mostly with a hard brush, painting a bit brighter spots on the trunks. I also refine all those blurry edges and add more branches, to make this forest a bit more rich than it is now. I add details bit by bit, moving from foreground to background, also separating everything into layers, to make it easy to erase stuff which I don't like (for example when I draw too many additional branches).

Escape Escape Escape
Escape Escape Escape

I am still struggling with trees, adding more random lines on the forest cover but I don't have specific idea for it so I just scribble, hoping it will eventually look acceptable. I also add some more fog with a soft brush, to make further tress blend with the background more. Then I darken trees in the front and add some lines on them too, to make bark look less flat, some more branches in the back and so on. Then I pick up the smudge tool and play around with those characters in the back, but I don't do anything fancy. I guess they still look bad but I didn't want to waste any more time on them. Light is easily added with a new layer with overlay blending mode. Then you can use soft brush and just paint some bright color with low opacity. Rain is very simple. Add new layer (normal one), draw many dots with various sizes and then use motion blur to turn them into raindrops ;)

Escape Escape Escape
Escape Escape Escape

Last element to add is rain on the characters, just some lines in lighter color. And that's it! :)