Wings

I was really troubled while thinking about this image, I didn't know what I actually want to paint. I knew that I need to draw a portrait, probably of a beautiful girl, or maybe "interesting" girl. Why I was struggling so much? I wanted to draw something for upcoming Exotique book from Ballistic Publishing and I felt that nothing I've painted lately is acceptable. That's why I needed a portrait for this occasion!

I just needed something entertaining for me in this picture - so lot's of detail! That's why curly hair, wing in the background and embroidery oh her clothes.

On the beginning I just sketch out the idea, as you can see, background is kind of messy but everything else is already pretty much defined in my head. Same thing with colors, although you can see that they are dull and much lighter than in the resulting image. Well, some things change during the process ;) What is most important stayed though - girl has a bright red hair and everything else is more blue than anything else, which gives a nice contrast. Also that bird were supposed to be blue and stayed that way, same with girl's eyes. On the new layer above the sketch I start painting her face, at first just some basic colors.

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I outline her eyes, nose and lips, because I would loose them later on, under a new layer of skin color, covering my sketch. I add many colors here, trying to make the face more lively and interesting. You can see that I even managed to place some dark oranges from here near her eyes. I use mostly solid, hard brush to add small areas with new color but also soft one for larger areas. Hard edges are then smudged out if I don't need them. On the last picture you can see me working on her eye, first defining main colors, lights and shadows with a hard brush and then adding even more colors and refining edges with a soft brush and a bit of additional texture. You can add some texture to your brush in brush settings window.

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Face is slowly starting to look like a face, what I don't like is that it's not actually very pretty. I fix some parts of it, trying to first guess what went wrong. To do that, I flip it horizontally, rotate and so on. Just to somehow notice my mistakes. Finally I decide to give her a smile, make one iris smaller since it was too big and - what was the biggest change - change her jaw, making it less prominent. All better now! And just to make sure that it looks good, I add missing eyebrows and hair on the new layer and make white of the eye a bit brighter. That's it for now, face looks good, time to fix that hair.

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On the separate layers I add all remaining elements of the drawing, just trying to fill the composition, put everything there. Now you can at least see what I plan to put in the background, I also added some more hair because it looked weird to have only one single spot of warm color on the whole drawing. Drawing is way darker than I originally planned but no harm done, I think it's look better like this. Then I try to start painting those mad curls, also fixing her eyebrows and adding eyelashes. I am really afraid of this hair so I give it a slow start, painting it bit by bit, hair by hair. I try to use many colors and also care for contrast, that way I can achieve some variety and also whole mess of hair won't look flat. Don't forget that you need to have locks of hair, not just one big afro-like thing, we want to see curls here.

I add some small dots on her hair, making it less sterile and in the same time I give my girl some freckles. Because why not, she is way cuter with them on <3 back of her hair is first painted with hard brush and dark color, just some random scribbles. then i blur everything out a filter. < />>
Wings Wings Wings
Wings Wings Wings

I add more lighter colors on the back of her hairstyle and finally move to the real detail, adding more strands of hair, smoothing out ugly parts, making the front sharper and adding more colors. There are no tricks involved, just hard work, drawing lines, constantly checking if it looks good from far away, adjusting contrasts and wondering if it doesn't look to stiff. I also change the color of her eyelashes. On the middle picture you can see that part of the hair closest to the face is sharp while rest is a bit blurry with sharp line popping out from time to time.

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I start painting her clothes with designing base pattern layout. That shirt was really painful for me... Especially the detail here. I painted it two times, starting from nothing and the effect wasn't even close to "acceptable". Third time I just focused on painting one single braid, succeeded and then copied it many many times, just adding details and making it smaller or bigger and so on. Hard lights are added on the separate layer with a hard brush. Let it shine!

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As you can probably notice, large part of her shirt was copied, flipped and merged with the previous part. I don't copy the highlights layer though, since I don't want this shirt to look too artificial. I paint lights on the second part of the shirt too and spend some time on this metal element on her neck too. I don't really care for it, I just smudge some shapes from it and add dots as a texture. Then sharpen, to make it look more metallic. Bit after bit this drawing starts to look promising :)

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Time to draw her hand. On the separate layer I define shape once again, place lights and shadows, picking colors from girl's face. All of those ugly transitions between colors are then fixed with a smudge tool and soft brush. I often check how this hand looks from far away. Until I am satisfied I don't attempt to draw details since this would be just a waste of time. First it has to look generally good. Only after I am satisfied with colors, shadows and light, I move to painting detail. I add fingernails, make bones more visible under the skin. Last thing is adding freckles, making the skin look similar to the one on the face. I also had to make it a bit smaller since it started to look too big.

Wings Wings Wings
Wings Wings Wings

Next thing is our blue and angry bird. I suggest to search for some photos before painting something like this. I myself wasn't really sure how insides of a bird's beak look like so I searched for some materials in the net before I started drawing. Also wings I sketched before had to be redrawn since they looked very unnatural, artificial even. They were not convincing at all.

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Detail on the bird is painted with a hard brush, I only sometimes use smudge tool to fix some parts. I avoid using soft brush since the bird is small and it would look blurry. Also when it's this size, it doesn't really matter if some small feather will look a bit strange. Nobody will notice. I also fix arm in the back. Freckles really help here, I draw dots and everything starts to look ten times better, because I have skin detail for free this way. After that I spend some time painting hair again, but this time it's much simpler. I blur out what I has sketched before and just add some details on top. I use same colors I used for the curly part and also add shadow.

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Final element is the background. At first I just outline all those feathers, slowly adding more detail and defining their structure. Color palette is very small here, as I don't want this background to catch too much attention. I also add some subtle texture from dots and lines, making it less smooth. Even those dark areas are painted on with lines.

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On the separate layer on the top I add some lights. Well they don't look all great at first but when I change layer blending mode to "overlay" magic happens and we get a whole new set of light beams. One last thing to do is adding more detail on the winds since many edges are blurry or messy and they clearly need a fix. I take smudge tool and brush and slowly adjust all those edges, trying to make them look better.

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And finally, after long battle with all this details, drawing is finished! :) I hope it was worth the wait!