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Nirvana - Tutorial

Written by Bala Subramanian - edited by ASC | Posted on Saturday, September 13, 2009

I created this portrait using CS2 and Wacom-Intuos tablet. It took approx 60 hours to paint the image from the scratch to final. This tutorial was published in the digital showcase book called "Art Squared" from rage publications, UK. If you are using a fast speed internet such as o2 you will be in a good position if you need to quickly cross refer to this site. There is nothing worse than when you are trying to do something and the internet is being really slow, especially with something as time consuming as this. I hope you all like it.

Stage 1: Basic construction

I just started with a basic construction sketch of the character. Here I used two layers, one for the construction and form and another for adding details.

Stage 2: Detailing the lines

Based on the construction I added more details and refined lines. At this stage, I corrected lot of proportions and compositions. In my method, I don’t go for a clear, clean line for painting. The lines and outline are fine tuned during the painting stages.

Stage 3: Blocking the basic colors

Here I blocked all the local colors with a little bit of contour details and shadows (just to check the initial look and feel). I also painted the background layer with an out of focus (to get a realistic depth). It is always better to have a blurred BG for portraits since it will not disturb the details of the character.

Stage 4: Eye details

Once we are ok with the fill details, it is time to start rendering the image. I started with the eye details keeping the light source in mind. The brows are painted with a normal hard brush (opacity = 67%, flow = 55%) When painting hair it is always good to start with dark colors then to the lighter colors (this is a common method used by artists) as you proceed towards the top layer of the strands. I also mixed a little bit of red and orange as reflective colors.

Stage 4A: Closeup of eyes

Here is the close up of the finished eye details. Note that every color is a mixture of the neighbor colors.

Stage 5: Facial details and texture

Here I added more details and textures to the face. Since the character is wearing ashes on the face, more detailing is needed to show the bumps and wrinkles. I created a few customized brushes to achieve this texture effect. Before achieving any texture effects, try to do some experiments with different brushes and opacity values.

Stage 6: Detailing the red spots & turban

Add details to the red spots and the turban. Here I used a noise filter for the texture of the cloth.

Stage7: hairs on Forehead

Detailing of the hairs on the forehead.

Stage 8: Hairs on the sides

Detailing of the hairs on the sides.

Stage 9: Dread locks

The dread locks are similar to the hair painting. Use lock transparency for the shading.

Stage 10: Detailing of the beards

Stage 11, 12: Detailing of the beards

More details are added to the beard. Use smaller brushes for painting the final detail of the hair strands. Here I didn’t use any custom brushes since it will give a solid look to the beard. I want the beard to be more loose and weightless. So I painted the beard as individual strands.

Stage 13, 14: Hands

Use more reflective colors and bouncing lights for the hand to give a realistic look. Define more shadows and highlights for the wrinkles.

Stage 15: Beads

Here I have explained the different stages of how I painted the beads.

Stage 16: Final details and fine tuning

When you are working with photo-realism always its better to make your details more minute and sharp (note the fine details on the circled areas). In this work I have avoided the brush strokes to the maximum extent to get a more realistic look.

Well, these are not the rules of painting. It is just my method of painting images. Many things on this tutorial are not new but it’s a great pleasure to share my methodology. Hope my tutorial will help you guys. If my tutorial is useful please feel free to contact me by visiting my blog.

To read about Bala or to see more of his amazing digital paintings, visit his blog at balajunkworks.wordpress.com
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