Near the beginning of 2015 I wanted to practice using traditional painting techniques in Manga Studio 5, so I made this series of fifteen paintings based on stills from season two of 'Mr Selfridge'. I've added notes for each one, detailing techniques I learned while painting them. Overall, I came to enjoy the process despite the struggle. For a detailed breakdown of how I painted the 'Agnes Towler' piece, you can see my post 'Using Traditional Painting Techniques Digitally'. Also, clicking on a painting will open a larger version on my DeviantArt gallery.
I also struggled with what to do with the line drawing. I like to keep it above the paint layers since I paint faster while it's visible. After this painting I resign myself to selectively lightening and erasing lines while I paint, by using a layer mask. The remaining lines become a part of the painting.
In addition to working on my painting process I also tried to develop my caricature skills. Some of the faces in this series become quite exaggerated, especially toward the end.
I also learned that I need to mark out compositional cues before I start exaggerating or else the face and anatomical proportions get too out of whack, usually shrinking like they did in the last one (Valerie Maurel).
The text in the upper-left is just notes that were on the same layer as the first color comp. I make notes whenever I paint now to remind myself and/or clarify my thoughts.
This is probably the first contre jour (strongly backlit) painting I have done from reference, which was fun. I ended up exaggerating the contrast in the figure to bring out details.
If you'd like to see a detailed breakdown of how I painted this piece, you can see my post 'Using Traditional Painting Techniques Digitally'.
My general procedure now: Imprimatura/Ground/Stain, Underpainting/Ebauche, Overpainting, Glazing (on 'soft light' layers), Varnish (adjustments to contrast), Corrections
Of course, color-blocking is nice to fall back on as it's simple to do digitally, especially for cartoony/comic book work. I think an underpainting yields a more unified, harmonious look however.
I feel like this might have turned out a bit too 'tight', probably because I changed the pressure settings on my brushes. I'd like to try a more painterly approach with bolder brushstrokes, kinda like the flowers in the background.
(If you'd like some tips on using a Cintiq, you can read my post 'Wacom Cintiq Tips and Suggestions'.)
As for the painting, it went pretty smoothly. I utilized the same underpainting technique that I used on the last painting, trying to be a bit bolder with my strokes. I ended up toning/glazing with Payne's Grey again toward the end to deepen the shadows (by cooling them down a bit). I've been struggling with how much to exaggerate the color and contrast. I always want to pump up the contrast a bit, especially since my paintings tend to turn out dark, but I also want to stay true to the reference. And it doesn't help that I'm trying to avoid Photoshop; Manga Studio is a bit more limited when it comes to image adjustments. For the next painting I use Payne's Grey ahead of time in the underpainting.
I'm still not entirely happy with the brushwork. I feel like I'm being too timid at times, particularly with faces. I think I need to define shadow shapes and core shadows more.
Thanks for looking!