Early in 2017 I was commissioned to paint an 80’s era version of the Bride of Frankenstein, which is a pretty rad request. Below is a short speed paint video of my process and a short blog post. If you want to see a 30-minute video with narration, then head on over to my Patreon.
Typically, my first step in a painting (digital or traditional) is to do a very detailed under drawing. For this piece my drawing is relatively rough, but that’s okay if you you’ll cover it in color and your monstrosity of a sketch will never see the light of day… unless you then decide to feature it in a blog post. Drawing is its own skill apart from painting, and unless you’re some gifted genius you’ll have to get good at that skill too if you want to paint figurative realism or anything close to it. Drawing is a blog post or two on its own but the super quick explanation to get good is: find good reference and practice every day.
After I complete the under drawing, I then create the color flats. Flats are flat shapes of color separating the major elements of the
painting. The reason you make color flats on a digital painting is so you can select a shape, the lips for example, and paint them without worrying about color accidently getting into the areas around the lips that you don’t want to be red or pink or whatever color you’re working with. It’s a tedious and boring process but you should take your time and get it right because the effort you put into this step has a direct relationship with how useful it will be to you as you complete your painting. When I’m done making the flats, I put them in their own layer which I then LOCK so that I can always use it later. If you’re getting hung up on color selection at this stage, just use shades of grey for your flats.
The next step is the fun part, you finally get to paint. I normally like to but in at least a rough background first but do whatever works for you. My advice here is a bit vague, but if you have good reference you can look at that and see how light hits the face, or how certain colors look in shadow versus light. If you can’t find good reference online, then take your own with your camera phone and look at it while you paint. A great many people have this romantic notion that artist sit down at a blank canvas and paint intricate masterpieces from their imaginations. There’s been a few that did exactly that, but most artists, including the great masters, use reference so should you.
When you feel like you’re close to being done show it to some friends or post it online. All they’ll likely say is “cool!” or “looks
good” or “kys noob”, but I find just showing a piece to someone else makes me look more critically at a it. And if you are lucky enough to get some feedback just take it in and decide if you agree with it or not (don’t argue with the person of they probably won’t give you any useful feedback in the future).