Skull

Believe me or not, it's very hard to find time for writing and making tutorials while I'm in Japan (after all strolling around is more entertaining than sitting in front of computer), but I don't want to abandon the website for so long so here is the next on from the Daily Sketches series. Maybe not very optimistic drawing, but surely a great exercise ;)

As usual I recommend downloading the video since the quality is much much better, resolution higher and there is no speed up so you can follow y every stroke.

..:: DOWNLOAD VIDEO-TUTORIAL ::..

Of course at the beginning I just sketch the base shape of the skull. Without jaw part it's a bit harder to get the proportions right, it appears to be too wide. You can see on the video that I struggle with the shape a little bit before I finally accept what I've drawn and move forward. Later, on the separate layer, I add some background with a soft brush. Plain single-color background would be a bit too flat so I add light to make it more believable. Last thing - shadows. For now they look a bit random and strange but they will nicely fit the skull when it will be finally painted.

Skull Skull Skull

At first I paint base shape with some light color, following the sketch. Drawing is not placed on the layer on top of everything else and it's opacity is lowered so it doesn't bug me too much while I paint. Then I create new layer and with a right click I change it into clipping mask for the base color layer. It seems this drawing won't have many layers... :D On my clipping mask I start painting first shadows and light, trying to see the three dimensional shape in those spots. Right now contrasts are rather week, I will make them stronger later on.

Skull Skull Skull

You can see some deeper shadows already present here. I slowly add more colors to the palette too, mixing some blue with the shadows and adding red to the lights. Blue is for the color contrast with the already very warm (red) drawing, red hues in lights come from light reflecting from the surface on which the skull is lying. On the video you can also see me moving into detail, merging some colors with the smudge tool and fixing some edges. Smudge tool should be set to a soft brush and rather high strength, that way you can make your changes quickly.

Skull Skull Skull

I add more details with a dark color, drawing shades in cracks in skull. Sometimes it's a good idea to draw additional light line near the edges, since they like catching light and will appear more realistic that way. Skull starts to look good! The more texture and small spots I add, the less it looks like a plastic model. But it's easy to overdo it so I take a look from far away and wonder if detail didn't destroy anything. In the end I decided to make it less visible and added some light colors with low opacity, to cover part of the dark detail. Dark lines were too prominent, now they don't catch the eye that much.

Skull Skull Skull

When I am more or less pleased with how the details look like, I fix the edges of my base layer, making them less sharp. For that you can use various tools, smudge tool with low strength is my favorite, but blurring tool and soft eraser are fine choices as well. Next stage is just polishing the details, smudging away all those ugly transitions and adding some smaller lights and shadows near the edges. I refine eye sockets, hole where nose should be and part with the teeth.

Skull Skull Skull

For some additional texture I recommend small dots on the separate layer. I decided to blur them out with "Motion blur" filter too, so that they are not too sharp. You can also copy all layers merged and use sharpening filters - they help bring out the details. Last final touch is adding some saturation to the drawing. Those little tricks are not necessary but most of times they do help to make the drawing better. So don't be afraid to spend additional 5 minutes on experiments, even if they won't be fruitful ;) Play around with filters and sliders!

Skull Skull Skull

And this is how it looks finished. Have fun with your painting!