Ladybug

This time a portrait, because I got scared when I realised how long it has been since I've painted human face. I tried drawing from imagination, just to see how much I actually improved when I was studying this subject with sketches (you can find tutorial about that HERE. I am quite pleased with the result, especially when it was such a quick painting :)

If you have any comments or questions - write ahead, I'll try my best to explain everything I'm doing here.

I start with an empty sheet of paper (2000 x 2000 pixels, 300 dpi - seems to be my standard paper lately...) and create new layer for a sketch. Fast dauber with solid (hard) brush will have to be my foundation for this portrait. At this point I wasn't really sure what I am going to paint, an idea for the drawing came to me later and changed over time. On the separate layer I start adding some first colors - I use soft brush for this as it's easier to mix values with it.

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Using various shades of brown, pink and some peach-like-ish color, which I cannot really name well, I try to draw some basic shape of her face. I want to "see" that those points where eyes end are sunken and nose and lips stick out. Until I see that I paint and paint, adding shadows and lights. At this point it's important not to switch to dull tones because we can easily achieve this ugly effect of unhealthy complexion (I just call it zombie). When face has some decent shape, I move on to the eyes. I add edge of upper and lower eyelid - I wanted her eyes to stick out like this :D

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On her green iris I add some small lights with a hard brush. Eyelashes are (as always) painted on the separate layer. I change them too often, adding or removing something, to paint them with everything else. It's funny for I always end up with one layer with a face and one layer with eyelashes only... Well, eye is ready I start adding some skin on one half of her face. On the separate layer I paint many light and dark dots or lines, which are meant to imitate skin pores and little wrinkles. I try to pick colors in a way that will help me add to the shadows on her chick and lighten skin just below the eye. As you can see on the picture below it is still quite brutal, but this will change quickly if you pick correct opacity and blending mode for the layer ;) I don't have any recipe for that, you just have to play around a little bit. For me this time the best solution was to pick Overlay mode and opacity around 50%. Rest is adjusted with soft eraser.

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When skin is more or less done I pay some attention to girl's eyebrows. I paint them with small lines - both lighter and dark, you can see it clearly on the picture below. After that I paint the other eye and add new layer for hair. I kind of changed my mind at that point. At the beginning I wanted to give this girl a curly hair but I wanted to finish this one quickly, which is almost impossible (for me) with curls... I gave her black and slightly bushy hair. Other than this I ditched hairpins and stuff like that since I could really pick anything I liked.

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After painting the rest of her hair I select lower part of it and add some blur filter. This is a simple way for some depth effect and making my life easier ;) On the separate layer I add some individual strands, to make her hair a bit more interesting. I use several colors (can you even tell?) and it's actually very important if you don't want to end up with artificial looking hair. After adding detail to half of her skull I move to her nose since I got really bored ;D I paint it with soft brush, using the layer with the face. The more layers you have - the slower your Photoshop is, sadly. And when it comes to painting nose I just love to use smudge tool. And smudge tool is a bit nasty if your computer can't keep up with huge file. I use this tool to blend colors faster.

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I need to adjust the layer with skin texture after painting nose. I add some more dots to cover nose part. This time it's easy to add them since our layer is already blending nicely with girl's face underneath. At last - lips. I add some lights, fix their shape and edges. Also important part is the shadows under lower lip. I don't like painting lips and I'm not happy with what I achieved here but I was already fed up with those dark lips.

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Her face is almost ready. I fix her chin and paint neck, also adding some dots for the skin texture. When the character is ready I try to add some background for this simple portrait but I wasn't feeling creative at that time. At first I wanted it to be quite light and bright but those greet dots I've added didn't fit well with everything else. From frustration a ladybug was born (since she was looking at something and it wasn't shown at what - that's a serious concept miss!). And that little bug made me imagine all those details I needed to actually finish this drawing ;)

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At first I added freckles to the girl's face. On the separate layer I painted many dots in various sizes and colors. Those dots also went to her forehead and neck - skin is not really smooth and white, right? Everyone has a mole or two or some small freckles... Those freckles made my character a little younger I guess. For the background I chose some dark and strong colors, a lot of green and some light on the bottom, not make it less boring. Now we all try to imagine that there is a forest behind her... :D At last I fix her neck a little bit, because it started to look strange when it lost white background.

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After some really small fixes (adjusting shadows under her eyes) the drawing is ready!