Some time ago we have been celebrating my 600 watchers milestone with three free mentorship trials. I asked for few pictures to do redlines, one picture to paintover, and some information about the things you wish to improve.LucyMacrae
got a January's spot and wanted to improve skin colours and overall impression of the picture. Here are some of my tips and ideas and I hope you'll find them useful.How to choose skin colours?
I know that it's very tempting to take a photo reference and just use pipette tool and eyedrop the colour from a skin area, but in this way we learn nothing. Really. First of all photos are made of pixels in various colours, so we may end up eyedropping a really unnatural colour. Second, even if we pick a really good colour we probably won't remember what was the RGB ratio.
So how to find a right colour? I strongly recommend doing photo studies or master studies (hard brush, without eyedropping original picture!) and just practise a lot. Yeah blah blah, nothing original, I know. But this studies are really helpful, a doing them helps you remember what colours you had been using.
The most common mistake is changing only the value of the colour (so lighter or darker) and not changing the colour.
The general rules are when it comes to painting skin in natural light is:
- skin colour: some kind of warm pink mid-tone
- shadow: darker (duh!), more saturated, cooler (more violet)
- light: brighter, less saturated, warmer (more yellow)
Below you can see the basic colours with 4 coloured layers over it:
- shadow done with violet "multiply" set to 45% opacity
- light done with light yellow "soft light" 100% opacity
- bounced light done with desaturated light violet "overlay" set to 50% opacity
- hard light done with very light yellow "colour dodge" set to 50% opacity
PSD avaiable for free in my Gumroad store!
This is just a general idea but it opens you a way to upgrade your skills. And for example if your light source is green then, the light layer and bounced light layer should be green instead of yellow. And that's it. Simple, right?
And at the end, if you really, like REALLY, REALLY want to use a skin colour from the photo I suggest to use "Gaussian blur" filter to blend pixels on the skin together to the point where facial features are blurred but still easy to recognise.
How to make a picture more interesting?
This is a vast topic, but if I would sum it up in a one word it would be the contrast. So in order to make a picture more interesting you need to play around the contrast, both value (light-dark) and colour (warm-cool).
The easiest way to create a good, interesting composition is to create thumbnails. Thumbnail is a small canvas where you can paint a very general idea of your picture in grayscale
. The reason for the grayscale is that our colour perception can deceive us - for example we associate red colour with fire and light, but in grayscale red is really dark, and that's why in many pictures fire doesn't seem so bright as it should be. So basically grayscale let us focus on one thing at the time. First values, then colour. It's a good start, later you'll do both at the same time, I'm sure
So the reason I'm talking about the problem with the red colour is the picture below.
- The rose doesn't really feel like glowing, because it's value was almost as dark as a shadowy background. I had to brighten it to a lot.
- The light on the face shouldn't be brighter than the light source.
- Added secondary light source at the background is good for defining shapes.
- Hair was too blended together for my taste. I've added some loose hair and divided it into smaller sections.
- There was an anatomy problem with eye socket and iris. A little bit of red light on eyelashes did a great job in my opinion.
- Some magical flames and sparkles to make the background a little bit more interesting
Original picture and repaint:
Backlight is an easy way to add some drama to your picture. You just need to darken the central area of the figure.
I have noticed some specific anatomy of the face, and I'm not sure if it's the way you want to paint faces or just a shading problem. So a really dark shade under the cheekbone and very narrow jaw feels like the cheeks are sinking into the face or that the person is extremely skinny. And as I said, it can be your style, but in order to paint more realistic faces try not to emphases cheekbones so much
To fix the last picture
I had to separate the characters. It's a really hard perspective and to be honest I would't go for it without few really good reference photos. The frames show the final "free transform" frame shapes. As you can see the perspective of the girl is pretty good, but the perspective of the boy was really flat, and because of that his anatomy become incorrect. There is only one thing I would like to point out: the connection between nose and forehead will always be above the eyes. The ear was placed correctly, but when I moved the eye lower, I had to move ear as well.
Don't mind her hand - it become super weird during free transforming.
At the end I would like to say that you have picked really difficult pictures, and that I absolutely love two works in progress from your gallery, so let me feature it
I would love to paint over the first one if you don't mind
Hope you find this tips and paintovers useful.
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