A gift piece for a longtime friend of her character, done up in the Halloween spirit~ painted from scratch in Photoshop CS2, using a Wacom tablet, and a much abused stylus.
Start out with a blank page. The actual file is ~3000x5000px, but here it is resized for internet purposes. I always use photoshop for my paintings, but you're welcome to use any image painting program, as well as any digital tablet or mouse (I use an old old wacom tablet).
Step 2: Main Sketch
First is the rough sketch, just blocking in where everything should be. Don't get too wedded to any of these lines, because half will be ignored/redone/moved/painted over by the end.
Step 3: Basic Background
Now to block in a basic background. Since I'm using a purple/blue background, I just throw some yellow/orange (complementary color) over the main figure, so hopefully that will come through. This works better in oil paintings than in digital, but the principle is the same.
Block in basic shapes and colors. It's good to pull from the background for shadows, so that the background colors get incorporated into the skin/hair/etc, the way they would be reflected if you were actually standing next to a purple wall or whatnot. Remember that the skin isn't just pink - it has greens and blues and reds, and it's good to work those in as well.
Step 5: Facial Reconstruction
Corrections to face anatomy/lighting, both of which were appalling in the initial rough painting. Since it's a character I've done before, I also stop to check my old pieces to see if I'm being (semi) accurate to how I've painted her before.
Step 6: Eye Surgery
Now I work more on details (such as fixing the eyes x.x), still mostly focusing on the face. I tend to overwork the face, and then underwork the rest of the body, so this isn't necessarily a good idea.
The main points I try to remember are that there is very little that is 'pure' black in a person. When you do add black, it should be for emphasis, and to draw the eye. So I'm trying to soften the eyes and the rest of the face, adding in red to areas where there is a lot of blood near the surface (nose, eyes, lips).
Step 7: Background and Face Fix
I decided I didn't like the lighter background, and painted over it with a darker purple. I still continue to work on the face, adding in highlights and shadows (I haven't been using peach/tan for a while - here,to contrast the reds, I'm using a pale turquoise for the highlights, and greens and purples for the shadows)
Step 8: Body Block In
Now (finally ._.) I go back to blocking in more details in the rest of the body area. Ye god those hands...I look at my own a lot to try and get an idea of lighting/shadow/structure, but it doesn't always help much. Basically, just keep practicing over and over. It does help. Trust me, mine were even worse than this before.
I'm still touching up on the face as I go. I'm terrible at just letting things be.
Step 9: Finishing/details
Since I'm not doing a full bodied figure, and the emphasis is more on her face/neck area, I didn't spend too much time on the clothes. Especially when using dark clothing, it's easy to hint at highlights by dotting lighter colors reflected off the other surfaces, but not having to paint in the majority of the body. Obviously, this is different for a full sized/full detailed piece, but this is still rather a rough painting on the whole, so I let that slide.
I'm not doing any major changes anymore. Now it's just touchups, fixing little details, adjusting colors, and the like. Then fling a signature on it, and call it done~
Step 10: Finished Piece
Not much done here. Just cropped it down to a more suitable size for web uploading. But now I wash my hands clean of it~ for now...