Tried to make an animated GIF of this but it was way too big and the quality was horrible. So I decided to just post the images and figured I might as well do a write up and put some thoughts I've been having within. Hope it's not too wordy and boring.
1. I did this whole demonstration with a 100% soft round. The flow was usually around 80% but on occassion it was at 10% for a very smooth gradation. I came to a sort of obvious realization the other day about how the easiest way to ensure that you are going to learn something with each painting is to try something new. Here besides subject matter as well as a few changes in process I decided to use the brush I mentioned previously Honestly I don't recommend using an "airbrush" for your entire painting but the lighting in this piece allowed for it. I do think however it is fantastic for a general block in and that is what I am doing here. Working general to specific in each stage of this painting made things go a lot smoother.
2. Keeping with the general to specific guideline I've begun to be a little more specific in shape form and value - yet I am still keeping the values very limited until I work the accuracy of the drawing further.
3. Becoming more specific yet again, the whole process is like carving a statue out of stone - a sculptor has no choice but to block in the large shapes and work down carefully chiseling out the nuances and detail. I am still only working in basically 3 values - my ground (what I toned my canvas), black and a mixture in between.
4. I've started to add more values where they are needed. Note that I painted right over the preliminary nipples in order to work on the overall form it rests upon. I think you have to be able to destroy and rebuild any detail in order to get things how you'd like them.
5. Once again, general to specific. I found working with such a soft brush kept me very general to begin with and all I needed to do to attain harder edges was shrink the brush down. I'm check the negative and positive shapes and whittling down my "sculpture".
6. I tend to avoid the face after I get an intial and hopefully accurate block in. I find that I can't stop working on the face until I am happy with it, such a hard thing to get to look right - so many shapes and details.
7. I think I skipped quite a few steps here, you might check the PSD for dozens more throughout if you are interested. Again, general to specific. I worked the face up the same way as I did the body, block in and limited values until accurate enough.
8. Getting pretty specific now, really paying as close attention as I can to references nuances. I haven't yet decided if I want to work on the references very complex scarf pattern, I eventually settle for a less strenuous compromise.
9. I've used an overlay layer once or twice to punch the values closer to where they need to be. Purists be damned :P The day they make a tablet that affords as much control as a real brush I will give in :P I didn't spend much time on the scarf but I think the little bit of texture offsetting the smooth gradations all throughout really helps the painting.
10. Color! On a whim I decided to see if I could "colorize" this. I think it's very important not to be too invested in what you are painting and just have fun with it. Every time I think to myself I have to have something done soon, something to post or something that I can show off and be proud of - I end up with a horrible painting. Everytime I sit down and have fun and aim to learn something new - I end up with something I am happy with. This is a color layer with litteraly just two colors. It works so well because of the lighting scheme not only features complements but is rather warm to cool. I'm not sure how I would handle colorizing a cool to warm scheme.
11. Several color editting tools since the last step, you can see the PSD for more detail if you'd like. A little bloom added with an airbrush as well as a soft light layer I believe.
12. I've taken a decorative metal and concrete plate I found on http://www.cgtextures.com (fantastic site!) and mixed it with itself on a darken layer to come up with the background pattern. Again, just on a whim I decided to play even further with my original idea. I find you learn the most from wild experimentation, after all it's all new to you right?
13. A few compositional edits, several color edits and some bloom added. I felt the cooler green dominance had a better mood than the previous warmer scheme.
14. Don't tell anyone I used the plastic wrap filter on this ... I erased out the bits I didn't want and kept just a little bit on the tops of some of the decoration in order to fake some lighting. Added some procedural bloom and a few tweaks and called it quits.
Hope that wasn't too boring :P