A week ago I was asked by a friend to paint someone that ‘is staring at you’. I tried many times before this picture, and it’s not as easy as I thought. The character design should be fun to look at. It shouldn’t bore myself away. After playing with ArtRage 3 presets and Wacom shortcut settings for about 3 days, I started this picture.
The style was inspired by Caroline Anderson and Morgan Weistling. No model/reference used.
Using ArtRage 3, create a 900*1600 Essential Canvas. The canvas setting can be found in the canvas library default. It has a quite good texture roughness and not-so-white background.
Start to block in big colors using dry oil brush. Keep the brush size as big as possible (do not do any details now)! As this stage your oil sketch should show the basic design of the subject and the light source. No worry about the color. I like to keep the color thin for now- some people use heavy colors right from the start.
A little hair clip indicates the darkest dark.
First create a new layer and move it behind the initial layer, ‘kill’ the background white. This is the good thing about ArtRage: your drawing on the first layer doesn’t merge with the canvas like PS or PT. After doing so, merge the two layers. Turn off the layer pod as we don’t need it anymore.
Now start the annoying part- adding detail features and colors. Why is it hard? Because you are not using the same color in step1 therefore you have to paint over your existing draft again. It is quite possible that you ruin the whole painting with over-confident, however wrong, colors. So let’s keep the color thin. The dry brush that I was using helps blending colors together.
Before we get into painting, there’s one thing to do. Use the transform tool>click the image>hit ‘H’ key to flip it>click outside the picture. This allows you to check the ‘unnatural’ feeling of your picture. My character in this pose always has an asymmetrical face- correct it first. Flip it back when you’re done.
The painting bit actually gets lots easier compared to step2. All we have to do is to add more details with a smaller brush. Now the features of the character should ‘make sense’.
This is an important step to boost your work to a higher level. Remember I was using large, dry square brushes all the time? Now let’s use a small, thick round brush for adding details. You can just add random details as you wish, with darker/lighter colors. It does make a big difference.
Another thing to notice is that when we use thick paint (glossy/impasto), do not fake the brushworks. If you use it everywhere just because it’s cool, the picture will look fake as a painting.
I would call it the final step. There is really nothing more to say… I used palette knife to hide some of my brushworks. I also added a yellow star to balance the composition (kinda top-heavy).
This step is not really necessary. Using ctrl+J in ArtRage 3 I am able to adjust the contrast of the picture. Step 6 only looks good on a light background- on a dark background it feels too dark. Step 5 looks good on a dark background (my AR working area) but in Windows preview it looks too pale.
So the color of the working area/background plays an important role in our painting process as well. To change the BG color in ArtRage, simply choose the color you want, hold ‘alt’ key and click outside the canvas (the working area background).