Coffee portrait

Coffee portrait was a practice piece I made once. Simple picture, in which I wanted to focus on painting the eyes. I wanted to make them look realistic. Inspiration was a picture once seen in the Internet (I don't have it and do not know the author, if you recognize the picture please let me know!).

I'll try to lead you though the process of painting this particular picture (click on the thumbnail to see the bigger picture). If something remains unclear - write comments or emails, I'll try to answer every question.

I start from a black piece of paper (digital paper, that is). This time I chose a paper 2000 x 2000 pixels and 200 dpi. Bigger sheet lets you paint more detail and to achieve realistic look a considerable amount of detail is needed. Well, I don't like to see squares of pixels on faces I paint....

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Right after preparing a place to draw I put some gray color on the top and start to paint. This particular picture was painted in black and white. It's easier for me this way - I don't have to bother with colors and can focus on light and form. This whole picture was painted to learn how to render eyes, so colors wasn't all that important ;)

I choose soft, round brush (from the basic ones) and start planning where all the things should be. Everything is "dirty" and "sketchy" for now, but I just want to know how to compose the picture.

Next, using the same brush, i try to plan lights and shadows. you might think differently, but this is very important stage and you have to make sure of several crucial things: base shape (anatomy!), convincing light (it helps to choose some particular light angle at the beginning and stick to it), composition (well, you can see that I'm not good at it since I cut off part of the head and ears :D).

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Slowly I'm beginning to think about details. Lips, nose and eyes are being painted with more attention, but only to see facial features. Sometimes I tend to lower opacity of my brush to make strokes more smooth and allow lights and shadows to blend nicely. Smudge tool is also helpful to repair several places (but look out, don't use it too much - it will show and it certainly won't look good).

Then I soften lights on the whole face, place eyebrows and add some darker shadow on the chin. I also need to get rid of all those ugly spots on the skin (soft brush and gentle strokes will surely help with that). I also draw some basic outline of the eyes (try to make them look similar...).

Later I change the background a bit, to make the face stick out more. Well, I don;t really care about the background, is good as it is ;) You can see face clearly now, light has been places and the only thing this picture needs now is the detail. That's exactly what I'm going to do now.

I start with the left eye. White of the eye is made white and some small, gentle shadows are placed on it. Then I paint edge of the iris and dark shadow in the top part of it. Last comes the pupil of the eye. I fill iris with concentric, dark lines and on top of that I place some basic, soft lights. At the end I play with highlights and add some strange dots and lines. Then edge of the upper lid is places and some eyelashes. It starts to look like an eye, finally :)

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I focus on the skin near the eye for a moment. I built some texture using small dots - light and dark ones, small lines near the eye and so on. Simple way to paint many small dots quickly is to use brush options (particularly "scattering"). Well, if you like it you can put dots for long hours, but that's not really advised...

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After painting eyelashes on the lower eyelid and light on it's edge I paint dots on the rest of the face. It's good to paint skin texture on the separate layer - it's easier to control it's density. If texture is to thick (picture in the center) I try to blend it a little with skin underneath by copying the layer and blurring it (with some filter, for example Gaussian blur) and lowering the opacity of the original texture layer. Rubber is also helpful.

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Second eye is made similar way. After short or long while our picture starts to stare at us intensely... :D

At last I'll take care of nose and lips. To tell the truth I wasn't very concerned about them, my goal (painting the eyes) has already been achieved. Firstly I get rid of all this skin texture from the nose holes and blurring it away when I feel there's a need to do so. Then I try to fix the shape of the whole nose by light and dark lines (choosing light or dark line depends on the color of the neighbor skin). When it comes to the lips I just add some lines as a texture and simple lights.

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For now I'm going to focus on the forehead, which is again painted with small dots. I also add some eyebrows. They are painted with dark strokes and then I add some light ones, to make them look less thick. It's also goo to make them a little lighter to better fit into the rest of the face.

While painting the hair I firstly make all the place for the hair really dark and on this dark spot I draw some lighter strokes with soft brush. As a finishing touch I add some very light and thin likes to represent single hair. On this picture we don't have much of a hair so I didn't pay much attention to it ;D

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At last we can just smile at the final result (or maybe not? :D) !