Okay, so as promised, I’m going to talk about how I made my most recent piece. It’s a method that’s still in a bit of flux, so this might not even be accurate in a week or two, but for now, this is how I’m making pieces. This is all done in Adobe Photoshop CS 5.5, on a Wacom Cintiq 24HD.
First, I start with a very general thumbnail on a 50% grey background, with about an 80% grey to draw with. This is my chance to play with a bunch of different compositions that I like, though I usually go into a painting with a pretty good idea of what I want.
From here I start blocking in some of the darkest darks, and I also start painting the main characters. I guess it would suit me better to get the whole thing laid out first, but I get insanely bored with that, so instead I start working towards the money shot. I do pull up vague reference for each of the characters. The women are generally mix and match of features of people that I know, and I’ll sometimes grab a bunch of different pictures of different people from Facebook and kind of put it all together to be a unique, yet realistic individual.
I finish out the painting in black and white, and start thinking about texture and little details that make the scene more natural. As I stated in a previous post, I hate the tedium of doing stupid architectural/geometric features, like the brick wall. So, instead of dicking around with that all day, I opted to go outside with my smart phone and just take a picture of a brick wall. I feel no remorse. One thing I have noticed about working with photos, is that they’re generally too sharp, so I have to blur them by a considerable degree so they don’t clash with the actual painting.
Next, I tone the whole thing using a “Hue/Saturation” adjustment layer. The idea is to have a unifying colored light source. In this case I imagined an orange street light illuminating the scene. I try not to go too overboard with the saturation of the layer, but in this case I later bumped up the saturation for a little more drama.
After that I make a new layer and give it a “Soft Light” blending mode. From here I start coloring the under painting on this layer. I only choose hue and saturation. The brightness needs to stay at 50% to preserve the values of the under painting.
This is what the painting on just the Soft Light layer looks like without the underpainting. It looks kind of splotchy from here, but it really doesn’t bother me much.
Next, I add small details, and paint opaquely on a layer above the Soft Light layer to fill in parts that don’t look quite right.
Finally, I play with some Exposure adjustment layers with layer masks to add a little more drama and direct the viewer’s eye to where I want them to spend the most time. I both use exposure layers that decrease and increase the exposure as I see fit.
So, yeah, that’s my dumb process. Again, I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be painting like this, but it’s working for me so far, so I guess I’ll stick with it. If you’re still reading this, you’re a champ, but you will never get that time back… I want you to know that. If you would like to waste some more time, you can hit me up with questions, I guess.