Hey all, over the past couple years a few people have asked me to kind of go over my process in taking a piece from start to finish. ive put it off and put it off until recently i decided to share how i take scribbles and turn them into scribbles that sorta look like something. Im in no way a teacher but hopefully someone can check this out and maybe pick up something that they can use to improve their own work. anyway here it goes.
Ok, first of all i'll start with letting you know who the subject of our little project here is. im sure a lot of people are familiar with this guy by now, but for those who dont know im working on Atlanta based rapper Trinidad James. i start off looking through various images of Mr James until i find a few things i like. Once something sticks out to me i start in on a really REALLY loose sketch of the subject. at this point the details mean absolutely nothing to me, as you can probably tell by the quality. at this point i like to use a really messy scattered brush because it forces me to pay more attention to the overall form and not look at the details
Once i scribble around a bit and find the right exaggerations and forms that i feel will work well with the piece, i move in with a more standard brush and start sketching. This particular sketch was done in Photoshop with the #24 brush with shape dynamics and transfer turned on, but im sure any brush you choose would work fine to draw with. its really about what works for you. Once i really get into the drawing i start trying to achieve a good likeness and get some shadows involved in the form of cross hatching as you can see below. at this point im still not too overly focused on the details of the piece but more of the placement of everything. at this point i move into what is more like a final drawing stage
Once I am comfortable with the final sketch of the piece, i move on to color. in this stage i just add a couple layers and add a general flat color for each set of objects that will be based on a different color. In this case i had a layer of brown for the skin tone, a gold layer for jewelry, and a green layer for clothing.
Next is the block in stage. i grab a couple of colors that i will use in the image and i pop them in the Painter12 mixer pad. when i use Photoshop i make my own mixer somewhere off to the side on the image, but i find the mixer pad in painter 12 works way better. I basically try to achieve the same thing i did in the sketch when it comes to shadow and form, only now im incorporating color and most importantly VALUE. Jason Seiler always told me you can paint things whatever color you want as long as the values work, so i try to keep that in mind. this is also the stage where i start to pay a little more attention to the details but not too much. my main focus at this point is building up my colors and keeping the values looking somewhat decent.
Now im basically just building more and more on the block in phase of things. i got the face to a point where i was happy with it and started moving into the camo and some of the jewelry. I decided i wanted to paint this entire piece in Painter12 and limit myself to just a handful of brushes. for the most part this whole piece will be colored in nothing but the taperd bristle oil brush, the fine detail oil brush, the oil pastel crayon, the grainy water blender, and the almighty scratchboard tool. for anyone new to painter, the scratchboard tool is good for basically everything
still at a more refined block in stage here. ive moved into nailing down a lot of the important parts of the hand and the jewelry and have started to get a feel for the camo.
Now i really start into the details, right now focusing mainly on the face. this is probably the most time consuming part of the painting but the most fun too. i try and focus on getting the important little details i can see that make the face work. what ive found that works for me is to not try and get every single little detail in the face but only the things that really stick out. Here im really trying to make sure i get that crazy grill of his right because its a big part of the likeness.
Here is where things get super crazy as far as details go. This is where im zooming way in and breaking out 1px brushes in order to get chin hairs and little reflections off the glasses and the hat. now im focusing on the teeny tiny things like lights on the teeth and the little notches in the hat. At this point ive also gotten the hat and all the jewelry to a point im happy with them. From here i am basically at the final stages with just a few minor adjustments left before the finish.
Now for the final stages. normally i do the background of an image way earlier in the process, but i got so focused on the painting itself the background slipped my mind so i decided to save it for the very end lol. In the case of the background i just tried to keep it simple and chose colors that already existed in the painting and just tried to do something interesting with them. sometimes i add in a texture here or there, but for this i wanted nothing but paint.
AAAAANNDDD THATS IT!! i of course added all my logo's and personal info and i decded to add the frame at the end because honestly there just wasnt enough gold in a painting of Trinidad James. Again, i hope maybe someone got something useful out of all my rambling and i hope to do a few more of these in the future. PEACE