Been meaning to sign up to this site for some time, and there's no time like the present, eh? I'm currently going back to the basics with human anatomy studies. I've found myself fudging the details so it's time to get down and study.
Now let's figure out this attachment thing... Uh, should the pictures be this big?
The hell? How do you get your paintings to look that realistic and solid? Amazing stuff man.
First, I go in with hard-edged textured brush. I'm a drawer at heart so I need linework to get me started. In between doing lines, I use a blending brush (of which I have a few) to soften the edges a bit. If you've seen an artist work with charcoal and a brush it's a bit like that but with less coal dust up your nose. Once I'm satisfied with the linework I lay the base skin tone and block in the highlights and shadows. From here on out I switch between hard brushes, soft brushes and blending brushes and continually refine the form. I don't follow any particular gameplan and play things by ear, although I do have tendencies. I like to start on the nose, for example, and save the eyes for last.
And... I suppose that's it. Not a particularly insightful post looking back on it. I don't think my techniques are noteworthy. I will say this, though: I pay special attention to two things: reflected light and edges. Proper use of edges, specifically, can help a form really pop.
That gif makes everything looks so simple and easy! But I am sure if I try it out it will be anything but xD. Show us more progress gifs when you can, they're very enlightening. I love seeing how people go making a painting.