Underwater

First drawing in 2011! :) I sincerely hope that all the others coming I will like as much as this one, I'm really happy how it came out. I am even surprised I dared to draw something underwater themed but I guess I wanted to do that for far too long to ignore that idea any longer. Sometimes you just have to take up the challenge!

This will be a long one, but maybe you will survive till the very end. As always - if you have any questions about that drawing or tutorial itself, feel free to ask!

When I sat in front of the screen with that picture in mind I really had only vague idea about what I am going to paint. I knew I wanted to have lots of fabric here, flowing in the water, nice light and bubbles. Lots of bubbles. As you can see that's nothing specific. A whale in wedding dress also fits that description. And so my sketch doesn't really look like what I ended up with (and I am happy about that). Then I started to pick colors for the painting and I chose mostly blueish and purple hues.

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I changed the way in which head is facing - this was a composition detail. If I didn't do that everything would flow to the left and whole figure would be "trying to escape" from the picture. That's no good! Turning the head made it more static. I also start painting with the head, this will be the center of attention in this picture. Key part in painting it was finding the correct light - it wasn't easy! Finally, by trying and trying, I got something decent and left it like this, tired of repainting it over and over again. Look carefully how light is distributed.

Then comes the hair. I wanted light to highlight most part of it - that's why it's very bright, almost white (but almost!). I also added something on her neck. Well, that was just desperate way to do the neck. I am not some anatomy master and I couldn't get it right so... I covered it with something else. Cheap, I know, I know...

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I slowly start to think about fabric. At first I painted some rugged sheets (at least this is how I saw that thing) but I quickly changed it into something more subtle and elegant. Well, since that fabric covers most part of the painting I'd rather paint it decently. This light and shiny fabric was very quick and easy to paint, specially when flowing water gave me so many folds to play with. When I finished my first battle with the fabric I added some bubbles at the top and darkened the background.

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Still painting fabric. I carefully draw all those folds but I keep in mind that everything may yet change in that part of the picture. I use soft and big brush, this is not the level of detail I plan to have anyway. I just plan the details of the composition.

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After adding some more bubbles I finally move to serious detail. I don't want to overdo it, because the picture might end up looking too stiff and almost frozen. That's why I leave some parts of the fabric a bit blurry, as if it were moving, flowing. When lines on fabric (well detail is mostly about refining edges, I did not add any textures) are smooth and flow neatly without any sudden jumps or breaks I duplicate whole detail layer. I blur it out with some filter and switch its mode to soft light. It will add this delicate shine to the picture.

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Then I do some changes in light to make it all more interesting. Fabric on the right side was darkened, to better merge with background. After that I paint detail on the woman's face. I emphasize facial features, refine lines which define nose, lips and eyes, I add some lighter lines on the sharp edges. I don't want to spend too much time on this - it's not worth it, after resize all this will go to heaven anyway. I pester fabric some more (well there is still a lot of it to play with) - first visually discerning all the folds with dark lines.

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Then I add some small lights and weaker shadows. At the end, when I feel I'm done, I yet again do the trick with blurring duplicated layer. Fabric is not looking bad, but instead of moving on to some other part.... I completely redo the light on the lower part of the picture. It happens. Hopefully that change was for the better!

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And yet again - fabric. Below you can see more than I will even be able to tell you about it. Last phase is refining bubbles (which were blurry or strangely shaped) and the picture is more or less done after that.

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Some magic with contrast and lighting (you can copy-merged everything, put it on top and play with some contrast and hues adjustment, it's sometimes worth trying!), the signature and it's ready!