portrait painting help please?
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    portrait painting help please?

    Hello, I'm new to CA and this is my first time painting a person. I'm using PSE and blur's good brush set. I have no idea what colors I should use for what part (I'm using a color swatch from a tutorial.) I wanted to go for a more rough, painterly look, but I ended up taking a lot of time, working in small strokes and blending, which I still don't really get how to do on PSE.

    BG/composition aside, I think the skin tone looks kinda oily, blurry, and bland.. I don't like the eyes either.. I used a very dark brown to outline the darkest parts on the eyes, nose and mouth, but they seem too dark and too crisp but I don't know how to fix that.

    Do I need more contrast? details? I'm totally lost. Crits and suggestions please.

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    Last edited by traumgerine; November 15th, 2012 at 05:44 AM.
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    Is your sketch layer on top of your paint layer? It's far enough along to move the sketch to the back (or biff it -- but you probably want to keep it until you block the hair in). The sketch lines are distracting at this point.

    Well. It's a competent blocking in. The source image is a big unexciting, mostly because of the soft lighting. It's not giving you much form to work with.

    Hm. Things you can try to bring it to life. Ask yourself what the highlights mean about the forms underneath (there are some subtle light touches all along her nose, for example, that say important things about shape). Dark and and light are telling you things about form (except when they're telling you things about color, as when the flesh around her eye is a little darker). Try making the darks of the image into firm shapes (I can't think how to describe that better). Look for details that you find exciting (here's one that gets me -- notice how the hairs of her nearside eyebrow actually turn and change direction as you move toward the nose? That's cool).

    I guess, bottom line...you have to fall in love with your reference a little. If nothing about it excites you, you're probably going to make a boring picture.

    I was once on the receiving end of a critique so savagely nasty, I marched straight out of class to the office and changed my major (sketchbook).
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    You didn't pay any attention to background. Which is a large part of why you can't bring it to life: color is relative to all other color in a picture, not an absolute. You can't match skin tone to a background as an afterthought; and this empty neutral gray background doesn't provide an environment for it to live in.

    You aren't really tracking the light source, either.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stoat View Post
    Hm. Things you can try to bring it to life. Ask yourself what the highlights mean about the forms underneath (there are some subtle light touches all along her nose, for example, that say important things about shape). Dark and and light are telling you things about form (except when they're telling you things about color, as when the flesh around her eye is a little darker). Try making the darks of the image into firm shapes (I can't think how to describe that better). Look for details that you find exciting (here's one that gets me -- notice how the hairs of her nearside eyebrow actually turn and change direction as you move toward the nose? That's cool).

    I guess, bottom line...you have to fall in love with your reference a little. If nothing about it excites you, you're probably going to make a boring picture.
    I see, I'll work without the sketch from now. Thanks for pointing out the subtleties in the color and shapes, although I'm not entirely sure how to express that on a technical level.

    Quote Originally Posted by arenhaus View Post
    You didn't pay any attention to background. Which is a large part of why you can't bring it to life: color is relative to all other color in a picture, not an absolute. You can't match skin tone to a background as an afterthought; and this empty neutral gray background doesn't provide an environment for it to live in.

    You aren't really tracking the light source, either.
    Yes, it was a mistake not to make a background.. I'll take care of that next
    How can I "track the light source" better then? I mean I'm not very good with light but I am more or less following the ref image.

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    Quote Originally Posted by traumgerine View Post
    How can I "track the light source" better then? I mean I'm not very good with light but I am more or less following the ref image.
    That's the point: you are trying to duplicate the color spots in a photo instead of analyzing it and reconstructing the form.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arenhaus View Post
    That's the point: you are trying to duplicate the color spots in a photo instead of analyzing it and reconstructing the form.
    Seconded. Or, to explain that more graphically: when you use photo ref, the natural tendency is to look at it and think, "okay, it gets dark here and it's light over here." What you need to do is look at it and think, "it gets light here because it's sticking out and shiny, but it's dark here because there's an indentation, and it's dark here because there's an object getting in the way and casting a shadow." So you're not just reproducing a pattern of colors, but working out in your mind what's really going on.

    I notice the resemblance to your avatar. Is this a self portrait? If so, the best thing you can do is stare at yourself in the mirror for a while.

    I was once on the receiving end of a critique so savagely nasty, I marched straight out of class to the office and changed my major (sketchbook).
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamsession View Post
    i think this tut could be helpful for the skin tones and blending

    http://i1197.photobucket.com/albums/...g-thoughts.jpg
    Thank you, that's really helpful.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stoat View Post
    Seconded. Or, to explain that more graphically: when you use photo ref, the natural tendency is to look at it and think, "okay, it gets dark here and it's light over here." What you need to do is look at it and think, "it gets light here because it's sticking out and shiny, but it's dark here because there's an indentation, and it's dark here because there's an object getting in the way and casting a shadow." So you're not just reproducing a pattern of colors, but working out in your mind what's really going on.

    I notice the resemblance to your avatar. Is this a self portrait? If so, the best thing you can do is stare at yourself in the mirror for a while.
    Nope, this is a friend.. I guess we look alike or I'm just bad with likenesses. Analyzing/classifying shadows makes sense, I'll keep in mind for next time.. thank you!

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    I tried to take the advice into account and it's something like this now.
    still confused about lighting.. not sure where the BG is going

    Edit- adding update
    any corrections needed/things i can do to make it pop out more or make more interesting?

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    Last edited by traumgerine; November 16th, 2012 at 03:31 AM.
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    If the values are confusing you a lot, maybe you could step back for a while and do a three or four tone study of the face with only flat areas of value. That should help you bring structure to them. I remember I found that exercise very enlightening when values felt confusing.

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    i think this tut could be helpful for the skin tones and blending

    http://i1197.photobucket.com/albums/...g-thoughts.jpg

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