The making of a Princess

Step by step of a Digital Painting

One of my latest commissions was a drawing of the beautiful Princess Daisy. I exported out screenshots of some of the major steps in my digital painting progress and wanted to share them as inspiration to anyone who would find it useful.

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Step 01:

The Mockup

I usually develop several mockups - especially if the artwork was commissioned or if I have a lot of unclear ideas about the direction of the painting. If the artwork was commissioned I ask my customer to pick a mockup for me to continue with. If I'm just making the painting for myself I usually experiment with some thumbnailing before deciding which mockup to continue with.

In few cases I grow too attached to several mockups and I end up developing a little on all of them, turning them into proper sketches, before making a final decision.

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Step 02:

Lineart

It is 50:50 whether I decide to do clean lineart or go straight to shading/coloring on top of the sketch. At the moment I'm not focusing so much on cleaning up my sketch after I started painting on top of it, so if I want to make sure the sketch was properly cleaned up I just do lineart instead. I usually create clean lineart when the artwork was commissioned by a customer.

In reality it is probably the undecisive 'me' that kind of want to let go of lineart but just loves doing it as well.

I use a custom Photoshop brush with transfer to create lineart and I usually pick about 80% black as my tone for lineart. Sometimes I throw in a little hue (fancy word for color) as well.

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Step 03:

The flats

This is probably the least entertaining part of coloring. T H E F L A T S. My latest process is just to have a single layer containing all the flats. I might paint the different colors on each their own layer but once I'm done I merge them together into a single layer named 'flats'.

If I want to later, say, select all the hair, I just place myself on the layer containing the flats and use the 'magic wand tool' to select the hair, then I move onto the layer I want to work on while the selection is still active.

I used to keep the flat layers seperate and then shade each individually using clipping masks. However I often got lost in the amount of layers that piled up so I eliminated the amount by merging the flat layers together.

The lineart layer is on top of my layer of flats.

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Step 04:

Initial shading

I use a standard soft round brush for this step. I select some shades I want to shadows and highlights and make a new layer on top of the flats (still below the lineart layer).

The purpose of soft shading is only to indicate where the shadow and highlight areas are. Imagine that all the flat colors are the "midtones" and on this layer I paint in some highlighted areas with ligther tones and some shadow areas with darker tones.

TIP: When you select shadow and highlight colors, rebember to slightly shift the hue as well to get some variety into your color scheme.

step05.png

Step 05: First render

It is finally time to start working on layers above the lineart layer. This means that everything I paint on these layers are going to replace the lineart underneath. This used to be very frightning to me! I could never imagine wanting to work on top of my lineart and (gasp) replace it?! However once I figured out how cool it looks to use contrast in tones and color instead of lines to define features on the characters I got addicted to it.

In this step I also color the lineart. I simply make a clipping mask on the lineart layer and start coloring the lines.

I use the same brush for shading as lineart, only bigger. It also has a brother-brush which is exactly the same except it doesn't vary in size according to pressure. Those are my main brushes. When I find it hard to blend properly I use a custom brush for the 'smudge tool' to help along.

In this step I also changed one of the hands on Daisy because it looked ridiculous.

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Step 06: Corrections and second render

After shading and inital rendering I'm starting to add a little texture as well (mainly using custom texture brushes). It is also time to take a step back and reconsider my choices of color. I, personally, tend to start out too desaturated (it looks muddy) and turn up the saturation later in the process. I also adjust the overall light setting in this step using adjustment layers in Photoshop.

When I am satisfied I move on to the final corrections.

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Step 07: Final corrections

During final corrections of this piece, I noticed that the left shoulder (Daisy's right) looked weird compared to the other shoulder. It worked on the mockup - perhaps even on the lineart, but once I started throwing in colors it became clear there was something wrong, so I corrected it.

Sometimes we just don't see it because we work on the drawing for too long. Once I tell myself that the painting is finished, I wait until the next morning to post it because in 90% of the cases there is some small adjustments that I want to make. I simply cannot see the small mistakes because I've been staring at the painting for hours.

And finally I add a background!

Princess Daisy_final.png

Final version

As I had predicted, the following morning after I had declared the painting "done", there was some minor adjustments including making her face a little shorter and narrowing the neck.

This was an overview of my painting progress. I hope you find it useful.


My Art Journey

My art improvement

If there is something I really love about other artists, it is their journeys. I particularly love December and January since artists like to show off their progress by the end or start of the year. I might as well use the occasion of my re-opened website to present my journey :)

2004 - Magical girls phase - what more can I say?

2004 - Magical girls phase - what more can I say?

2005 - Starting on digital art for the first time. I later redrew this portrait in 2017.

2005 - Starting on digital art for the first time. I later redrew this portrait in 2017.

2006 - The bigger the eyes the better - oh and angel wings were definitely a thing!

2006 - The bigger the eyes the better - oh and angel wings were definitely a thing!

2007 - I discovered Photoshop's cloud brushes during this year. This drawing was of my avatar on GaiaOnline. This website was the first place I ever took commissions.

2007 - I discovered Photoshop's cloud brushes during this year. This drawing was of my avatar on GaiaOnline. This website was the first place I ever took commissions.

2008 - Still going by the pen name "Reegeta" at this point. Inking and later photoediting in Photoshop was a big thing at this time.

2008 - Still going by the pen name "Reegeta" at this point. Inking and later photoediting in Photoshop was a big thing at this time.

2009 - I have this original character, Yobirin, with long pink pigtails and magical powers. Although I never really draw her anymore she was in almost every drawing I made back in 2009. Also this was the last year I used "Reegeta" for my pen name.

2009 - I have this original character, Yobirin, with long pink pigtails and magical powers. Although I never really draw her anymore she was in almost every drawing I made back in 2009. Also this was the last year I used "Reegeta" for my pen name.

2010 - Still in my OC Yobirin-phase and doing a lot of digital-colouring-on-traditional linework. Here I've started to use "Nadia Axel" and "Adlezakuseru" (an alternative spelling of AdlezAxel) as pen names.

2010 - Still in my OC Yobirin-phase and doing a lot of digital-colouring-on-traditional linework. Here I've started to use "Nadia Axel" and "Adlezakuseru" (an alternative spelling of AdlezAxel) as pen names.

2011 - A new pair of OCs surfaced in 2001 - I believe I came up with these two in 2007 but did several redesigns of them before dinally starting to show them off. They didn't get as much love as they deserved and I hope to tell their story some day.

2011 - A new pair of OCs surfaced in 2001 - I believe I came up with these two in 2007 but did several redesigns of them before dinally starting to show them off. They didn't get as much love as they deserved and I hope to tell their story some day.

2012 - During this year I started trying 100% digital drawing with no traditional sketch or linework. As you can see I was not very skilled at the time and I was also scared off initially and went back to traditional art for a short time.

2012 - During this year I started trying 100% digital drawing with no traditional sketch or linework. As you can see I was not very skilled at the time and I was also scared off initially and went back to traditional art for a short time.

2013 - In 2013 I bought a Wacom Cintiq 13HD display tablet. It made me feel comfortable with drawing digitally since I would actually be looking down on the lines as I drew them and this is when I finally really started to do digital art.

2013 - In 2013 I bought a Wacom Cintiq 13HD display tablet. It made me feel comfortable with drawing digitally since I would actually be looking down on the lines as I drew them and this is when I finally really started to do digital art.

2014 - The re-birth of Éloen. I made an original character way back in 2008-2010 who was named Helia. She was later renamed to Éloen and is probably my #1 most drawn character ever. I'm still working hard on her story from time to time - another story I hope to tell one day.

2014 - The re-birth of Éloen. I made an original character way back in 2008-2010 who was named Helia. She was later renamed to Éloen and is probably my #1 most drawn character ever. I'm still working hard on her story from time to time - another story I hope to tell one day.

2015 - A throwback to my original characters you saw back in 2011; Lilith and Ceberus.

2015 - A throwback to my original characters you saw back in 2011; Lilith and Ceberus.

2016 - In the early 2016 I was an active contributor to the Undertale fandom. I had put drawing down for almost a year, only drawing once in a while, but after producing hundreds of Undertale drawings I had bloodthirst for drawing again and the above was one of the first original pieces I had made in.....years(?)

2016 - In the early 2016 I was an active contributor to the Undertale fandom. I had put drawing down for almost a year, only drawing once in a while, but after producing hundreds of Undertale drawings I had bloodthirst for drawing again and the above was one of the first original pieces I had made in.....years(?)

And this is where I am today...

I will do a more throughout presentation of my art journey as 2018 gets closer. But for now, this has been a sneak peak of my art journey up until now.