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

Digital Painting: Falling (finished!) + Thoughts on Improvement

"Falling" - An Alice in Wonderland-inspired digital painting by Studio Luminessa's River. Postcard size version.

Last night I had a strange dream. Wearing my favorite dress, I was falling through the air. Was it to Wonderland or. . . ?

Today I am happy to share with you the final version of “Falling”!  It took a bit of work, but I think I finally managed to get the dream-like atmosphere I was aiming for.  \(^o^)/

Stats

  • Time: ~20 hours
  • Materials: GIMP 2.8, Wacom Intuos 3

“Falling” is definitely inspired by Alice in Wonderland, but personally, I don’t think the girl in the picture is Alice herself.  Perhaps Alice in Wonderland was one of her favorite childhood books. Perhaps she’s always longed to go to Wonderland.  Perhaps that’s why she looks so calm. What do you think?

If you asked me if I’m happy with “Falling,” I would have to say yes – and no.  In many ways, “Falling” represents the current level of my digital painting abilities.  It was also an experiment and a challenge: Different style, focus on shading, and the sheer number of objects to paint gave room to explore and hone my skills.  I’m quite proud of how much I progressed just in the painting of this piece.  Yet at the same time, I felt myself bumping up against the upper limit of my skills.  It was a delight to paint, and yet frustrating at the same time.

At some point, though, you just have to say: “It’s done now.”  No, it isn’t perfect.  Yes, I’m sure with more time/energy/practice it would be more polished.  But I feel that right now, this is the best I can do with this piece.  So rather than going over it again and again and again, or putting it away where it will be forgotten, I’d like to share it with you. 🙂

So, yes, I’m happy with “Falling.” Happy and proud both. And no, I’m not.   But I will take everything that I’ve learned in the hours that made this piece and use them on the next piece, and the next.  No painting, no matter how dissatisfied I am with it, is useless.  Each one takes me closer to my dream.  Hopefully I can just remember that. . . 😛

How about you? Are you a perfectionist?  How do you decide when a piece is “done”?  Let me know in the comments below!

Header for Cloud’s Blog WIP

cloud-header-sketch-watermarkedLast Thursday I shared a sketch for my new header design.  Today I’m happy to show you a sketch for Cloud’s new header design!  \(^o^)/  And again we have a nice gradient background, so the sketch isn’t so monochrome; I think even a splash of color helps bring an image to life.

Just like Strike A Spark’s design features comic!River, the new header for Cloud’s World Of: features comic!Cloud!  I think her design turned out very cute, and somehow more elegant than River.  Maybe because her hands look a little better. . . ?

By the by, Cloud helped me with the concept for both our headers.  That’s why they match, which I am ridiculously happy about!  \(^o^)/

I’m hoping to finish up the coloring on both pieces within the next week or so.  It largely depends on whether I can continue working around that bug.  For now, plugging in an external keyboard seems to have fixed it, so we’ll see~ !

Art from the Archives: Great Fire Dragon

Happy Friday!  Are you looking forward to the weekend?  I know I am! =^w^=

Welcome back to the third installment of Art from the Archives!  Today’s picture is the companion to last week’s post.  It’s the Great Fire Dragon!

Great Fire Dragon by RiverJust like Blue Mountain Dragon, Great Fire Dragon looks better in print than on my monitor.  It’s a mystery~

The process was much the same for this photo.  I started from a sketch, but skipped clean inks and went straight to blocking out colors and layering complementary shades.  The glowing blue light from the orb was a little more difficult to do – deciding where the light would probably be reflected took a while.  I should have added more lighting from the fires surrounding him, too.

Great Fire Dragon is the second and currently the last in the Elemental Dragons series.  I also planned to do an Earth dragon, a Water dragon, and a Air/Wind dragon, and maybe one day soon I’ll get back into it. Goodness knows that these two were among the most fun I’ve ever painted. 😀

Don’t forget, next Friday is the last Art from the Archives installment for now!  Check back then to see what else I found!  Though I can give you a hint – it’s not a dragon, unfortunately. 😉

Art from the Archives: Blue Mountain Dragon

Hello and welcome back to Art from the Archives!  Today I’m sharing with you one of my favorite pieces that I made, oh, about five years ago, I think?  Simply titled Blue Mountain Dragon, it took about 8-10 hours to complete and was the first in a planned series of elemental/nature dragons:

Blue Mountain Dragon by RiverThis picture (and the one I’ll post next week) actually looks better in print than on my monitor.  I don’t know why?  I feel like it’s usually the other way around, but eh!  I’ll take it. XD

The process for Blue Mountain Dragon was the complete opposite of structured.  I was really only just getting into digital painting and used it as an opportunity to try whatever I wanted.  I blocked in the dragon first, then used complementary blues, purples, and greens on various opacity settings to get that translucent, flowy look.  The setting, sky, and moon were all done afterwards.  As solid objects, it was hard to achieve that same layered look and still make them relatively realistic.

I’m really happy with how it turned out, considering my skill level at the time. So if I ever re-do this picture, it will probably be more of a touch-up than a from-scratch deal.  I’m actually looking forward to it, but gotta finish the Gemstone series first~!

Don’t forget to check back next Friday for the third Art from the Archives post!