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Digital fantasy portraits

A guide to making a fantasy-themed portrait that resembles the reference model.

This tutorial requires basic painting skills, along with a little know-how of a program such as Adobe Photoshop. You’ll also need a drawing tablet, like my good ol’ Wacom Intuos.

I’ll explain my methods step-by-step, from the taking of reference pictures, via the preparations for making the first sketch, all the way through to the painting process itself.

Firstly, when making a realistic-looking portrait, the most important thing is to sort out the personal features of the character you’re painting, and to keep the proportions correct. This is why using reference pictures is crucial: the better the quality of reference pictures, the easier it is to find the most important features and recreate them in your painting.
You can easily improvise a basic photo studio in your own living room, by using some bright lamps, or even better, one of those 150 or 500 Watt floodlights that may or may not be lying about in your garage! Lighting the reference model from one side, or from other interesting angles, makes everything a lot more believable. I love playing around with light sources, to see what kind of shapes the shadows can conjure up.

My personal opinion is that there are things the mind simply can’t come up with on its own, and this is why I value having reference pictures to look at while painting. This goes for anything from people to objects, and especially things like drapes and fabric folds.

In this tutorial, I’ll also show you how to make a hard-edged brush, which is the brush I use almost exclusively when creating this kind of painting.

Click here to download the full workshop for free (PDF)
Click here to download the support files (10.39Mb)
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