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Hi everyone !
As I can't really draw much these days, I propose you a series of journals detailing my process when painting "Into the Woods" :) (Smile)

[Morgan le Fay] Into the Woods by Aliciane

Summary

I - Composition
II - Preparation
III - Execution

II - Preparation


1. Sketch


Into the Woods - Sketch by Aliciane

This was done mostly from imagination. I wasn't really concerned with the details and the realism at this point. My main goal was to refine the main shapes of my thumbnail. For instance, I tried to make sure that my rocks were of varying sizes, and that everything was flowing in a pleasant way. I also started to establish some very rough indications of light, as seen on the rocks. At this point, my layer stack looked like that :
  • Sketch
  • Greyscale
Basically, that greyscale layer was originally my thumbnail that I enlarged and put at 50% opacity. After that, I painted over it in parallel with drawing the sketch on top.

2. Underpainting


Into the Woods - Underpainting by Aliciane

Before starting to actually paint, I toned my greyscale layer and boosted its contrast. It was done with a combination of levels, colorize and color balance filters. I wanted the value contrast to be strong enough because it actually helps me when I paint in colors. I have a tendency to pick colors that are not light nor dark enough, so when I apply them on an already rather light or dark surface, it makes me realize how shy I've been when picking this color. Hope that makes sense =p

As for the coloring, I've chosen an earthy/sepia main tone because it's a color that will naturally occur in many of that painting's elements such as trunks, dirt, water, rocks... So if some of that color remains visible, it's will actually be a good thing because it won't seem out of place and it will help tie everything together. My current layer stack was :
  • Sketch [50% opacity]
  • Sepia underpainting

3. Rough colors


Let's just address a couple of technical details first. This is a single page illustration for a children's book that will be printed in A4 format, which is 21x29.7 cm. Since I want the painting to be printable at 300 dpi, the full size of my illustration is 2480x3508 px. For every single step in this part, I was working at a 25% zoom, which allowed me to efficiently work on the painting as a whole without getting tempted to add any details too soon.

Into the Woods - Rough colors by Aliciane

So, with my sketch still on top as a guide, I started applying some colors. I took inspiration from the color key I had made for a previous version, which I still liked. Please note how, despite my precautions, I lost a lot of contrast especially in the sky area :XD: that said, I don't think you should use your full value range at this stage because you want to keep some of your lightest lights for small highlights and some of your darkest darks for dark accents and occlusion shadows. My current layer stack was :
  • Sketch [50% opacity]
  • Rough colors
  • Sepia underpainting

4. Cleaning

For the next step, I deactivated my sketch layer and merged my rough colors with my underpainting. I then duplicated it, only to keep a backup in case I messed up everything. And this will basically be my layer strategy from now on : painting on a single layer, but regularly duplicating it before attempting anything major, complicated or that I would be unsure of. So the layer stack would be something like :
  • Sketch [Invisible]
  • Current painting layer
  • Previous painting layer
  • Previous painting layer
  • Rough colors + Underpainting
Also, I would like to add that each of those steps (thumbnail, sketch, underpainting...) are actually saved under different names and are different .kra files (the equivalent of a .psd for Krita :) ). So each time I progress to a different stage, I save my working file under a new name.

Into the Woods - Prerendering by Aliciane

So at this stage, I am still working at 25% zoom, without my sketch layer this time, and my goal is to refine and correct the whole thing before going any further into the details. That includes correcting those contrast issues in the sky, cleaning all the edges that looked ragged and dirty without the sketch, and adding a bit more light and dark areas here and there. If the painting looks good at this stage, I honestly think that 90% of the work is already done, even if nothing is at its finished stage yet :)

Next time I'll talk about the detailing part, with some explanations on the references I took to take several areas to the next level !
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Submitted on
April 18
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