Digital Painting “Heiress” – Finished!

"Heiress" by River - watermarked version.

For her seventh birthday, they had her sit for a portrait, that their people might see their future queen.

After weeks of work, “Heiress” is finally finished!  ~(˘▾˘~) (~˘▾˘)~

If you’ve followed along with my progress on “Heiress” from the start, you know that there’s been a lot of changes from the beginning.  From a gray-scale lighting test, to adding color (and adjusting it!), to this polished final image, “Heiress” has been both a struggle and an opportunity to try new techniques.

Here’s the progression:

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The one thing that I think I really improved in the final polish was going over her eye again to make it more sparkly so it would “pop” – it really added a lot of life to the picture. Unfortunately, in hindsight I think I over-rendered the image, and lost some of the depth that’s present in the original colored image.  So, next time I’ll try polishing the eyes first (to give that pop of life) and go from there, and try to retain the bright/dark ratio more.

It is no joke to say that this painting is the one I’ve spent the most time on, ever: over 40 hours total, over half of which were spent just polishing up the picture after I added color.  Whew!  So time intensive – but I do like the result.  (✿´‿`)

How about you?  What projects have you finished lately, or think you’ll finish soon?  And what’s the longest time you’ve spent on a single project?  Let me know in the comments!

Heiress – Progress

Work-in-progress image of "Heiress."

Since I posted the grayscale version of “Heiress” last week, I thought it would be nice to show you how far I’ve come with the colors!

I think I mentioned before what a struggle it is to color over a grayscale layer.  As you might expect, the grays make whatever color you paint over them more muddy-looking and dull.  Luckily, I recieved some advice from zagiir, an artist on deviantART who has painted dragons using this technique.  zagiir suggested I use an overlay layer filled with a warm, saturated color to help bring life and vibrancy back to the painting.  And it worked!  I used a nice apricot color over all the other layers, and now the colors POP.  It does affect how the colors interact and look on the painting, but after some adjustment, I think I’m happy with the basic colors now.  (Even if they aren’t what I originally intended.)  I also added some blue undertones to the shadows to make them more realistic-looking.  That helped a lot too!

After this, there’s still some work that needs to be done before I can say that “Heiress” is finished.  Mostly, I need to blend the colors and adjust the lighting in some places.  There are also a few small details that are bugging me that I didn’t notice when I first painted it.  Luckily the hard part is over, and now it’s the fun part: Polishing until I’m satisfied!

Heiress (Digital Painting WIP)

Work-in-progress digital fantasy portait of an elf lady.

I meant to post this earlier and forgot! Haha.  This piece, “Heiress,” evolved slowly from a warm-up sketch, and I’ve been working on it whenever I want to – instead of for a deadline.  It’s very relaxing. 🙂

This screencap is from the lighting check.  I painted it in black and white first to get a good grasp of the values.  I like using this method because I have trouble with lighting, but placing colors on top of grayscale is a struggle. :’)  Even if the colors look good in the end, they aren’t exactly what I envisioned at the start.  Flatting with colors fixes that problem. . . but then I struggle with getting the lighting right.  A conundrum! LOL

More Landscapes in Watercolor

Watercolor mountains.

I’m still playing around with watercolors – though I think I may be confident enough to start with the illustrations soon. 😀  In the meantime, here are all three landscapes I’ve painted in watercolor (including the first one I shared there on the bottom right).  It’s interesting how, by varying the amount of water amount of washes, one can intensify or dull the paint to create depth.

On the bottom left I tried something new: a mountain sunset.  As the day turns to dusk, often one can only see the silhouette of the mountains against a fiery sky.  Unfortunately, I chose to use flat black for the mountains at first – what a mistake! Though I wiped some away and used some blue for highlights, it still didn’t turn out quite right.  Next time I’ll use a dull, gray-ish blue mix for the mountainous silhouette.


Watercolor Galaxies

The landscape I posted last week isn’t the only watercolor practice I’ve been doing. . . I’ve also enjoyed making these galaxies.  They were originally inspired by this tutorial on Youtube:

Unfortunately, this method didn’t work for me exactly.  My paints are less pigmented and have a smaller variety of color – so, for example, I couldn’t use the deep indigo as shown in the tutorial.  I also don’t have any masking fluid.  Nevertheless, Cloud and I developed a new method that layers colors and creates stars through splattering opaque white watercolor paint.  Though this method cannot achieve the intensity as shown in the tutorial – or many other galaxy paintings seen online – I’m very happy with how these turned out.  (^__^)

By the by: I’m thinking of photographing the next galaxy I paint step-by-step and making a tutorial.  Would you be interested in this?  Let me know! 😀

Experimenting with Watercolor: Mountains and Rivers Landscape

Watercolor painting of mountains and rivers, with birds flying above.

As I mentioned before, I’ve been sketching on watercolor paper with the full intent to paint them traditionally, rather than digitally – but I’m a little nervous to start.  What if I ruin it?!  You know the feeling?  With digital art, you always have CTRL+Z, but with watercolors, you can’t change it once you put down the paint.  So nerve-wracking! 💦 💦 💦

I didn’t want to let that feeling hold me back, so I looked up some tutorials on Youtube and started painting some small pictures to break the ice!  This painting of mountains and rivers was made using simple techniques from this video by Mr. Otter Art Studio:

The idea of a simple landscape using washes sounded easy enough for even a beginner!  And it was a lot of fun. 😀  Though, I think I’ll practice a bit more before I try to paint one of the sketches! (^__^);;

And a close-up of the painting:

Have you tried painting with watercolors?  How did you like it?  Let me know in the comments below!

Cloud Finished Painting a Mermaid!

Today I’m happy to share with y’all that Cloud finished the first of the mermaid paintings!  ~(˘▾˘~) (~˘▾˘)~  This sketch:

Mermaid Chibi Cloud Sketch by River

. . . is now a lovely watercolor!  I’m so happy. (。◕‿◕。)  Please head on over to Cloud’s World Of: and check it out!