Monday, March 27, 2017

Alissa White-Gluz Digital Painting (Tutorial)

Hello everyone!
I forgot to post this. Took about 3 hours and personally it's one I am very satisfied with. The georgeous and most appreciated Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy).
I should have documented the steps again like last time or record a video. Gotta do that more often, I'll try to remember things. Anyway I try with words...

The Reference

I picked it because of the expression and the motion there is to this picture. Because it is a screenshot from a music video, I don't really like most of the photo studio shots, especially for reference and always prefer more natural moment-shots.
In the beginning I rather thought of making it a greyscale painting. For less distraction anyway, I turned the reference greyscale as well. But in general that's always a helpful method and makes drawing from the reference easier because there are no colors that distract you or can be misread as values.

The Sketch

This too started with a linedrawing. The canvas was not white, but a midtone grey. But I left the details aside. On a seperate layer I mainly outlined the darks and the lights and got everything in proportion. For example though I didn't draw in every hair strain, the shadow of the lashes, the writing on her arm or every single tooth. But I outlined where they'd be, outlined the mouth itself as far as I could see what's going on (sine the reference is very contrasty and too dark to see anything in some regions). Same with the eyes, I drew in the black shape I saw with the eyebrows above.

Tipp: Don't merge anything with the background layer until the end. You may want to shange the background later without messing with the drawing/painting itself.

This is somewhat how my outlines looked like (reconstructed sample)

Painting In Blacks

I'm not gonna lie, the drawing looked a bit confusing and messy with all the lines where I couldn't actually make out any details. But this got much better with the first step of painting in the values. I painted in all the blacks first, on a seperate layer. Like everything that was clearly too dark for any details. Like the eyes, the big shadow under her chin, the sleeves, the stripes on the shirt of course, the shadows on her left hand fingers, the shadow on the right side of her face and the ones coming from her hair as well as the hair itself in most regions, except where I drew in some bigger hair strains. Merged the two layers.

Reconstructed sample

Painting In Values

In Greyscales, new layer. First I started with the background (on the background layer) and lit up the one side behind her to start with. That made me realise that the light on her hand would be pretty much the same tone as the light behind her. So that's what I did next. I continued with that tone on areas where I thought would be just as light as that, for example on the other hand and parts of the shirt. In the face I was much more cautious. There I built up the lights and shadows slowly. Also the hair had to be much darker, the midgrey I used as a background was by far too light. There were also some other parts in shadow that had to be darker, especially on the right side of the face, the palm of the left hand and the right arm.
The chest area and the left side of her face had to be lighter, but that is what I built up carefully, wich means I didn't go in with the lightest tone in my palette. Here I didn't like the background being dark on one side anymore, it split up the image into two parts, especially because I was planning on turning it into a vertical portrait format. So I lit up the whole background into that almost white tone. Merged the two layers.

Tipp: Spare the lightest tone (let's say it's white) until the very end and use another light tone instead (like a very light grey). You wouldn't want to veruse it. Instead use it to highlight focal points. Like reflection in the eyes for example.

Adding Details

So far I didn't zoom in at all. I was mostly painting on a 25% canvas view. And that didn't change. No, I never zoomed to 100% on this one. But at this point I zoomed to 50% when adding some details to the teeth, the piercing and the eyelashes shadows. Then I added the writing on her arm, some of those thin hairs.
Again, that happened on an extra layer.

This is zoomed to the full size

Changing The Orientation

Got rid of the reference and rotated the canvas to 90 degrees. On the same layer as the details I painted in the rest of her head and overpainted the hair partly to make it match. Also extended the lower half of the painting a bit by guessing her shirt (really I didn't put much into that) and just making a dirty mess out of the blacks, using her hair for that too. I also extended the white background to the top and bottom of the image and then decided it had to be more narrow and overpainted the almost-white with the grey a bit. When I was okay with the whole image I merged all the layers.


Somehow I got into the mood to have it colored and thought I'd try something new. I tried with different photos that I liked the colors of and put them on an extra layer above that I set to "color" mode. To keep myself limited and in context (since there are a lot of photos on my drive and even more out there on the internet) I used only photos of Alissa or Arch Enemy concerts (nice colors in there!). I ended up with using this one:

Yes, I had to scale it up a lot. Then I added the cutout filter with some random setting (but I think it was with high level number and high edge simplicity). On the color layer I color picked and corrected the coloring to my needs a bit so her skin isn't blue an and also took out some tones that I thought were out of place. Merged the layers.


Decided it is not quite there yet and I blamed it on too much white (or almost-white). So I color picked the lightest skin tone in the image and filled a new layer with it completely, set it to multiply, merged. Then I created just another layer again, where I painted in a few lighter spots on the face and hands that got lost in the multiply layer (I didn't even have to choose a new color, I just kept the one from color picking).
Then finally the highlighting step. I always do like this:

  1. Open the color wheel or whatever you use
  2. Slide or wheel to the complementary color (or somewhere near it) of what your lightest color up to this point was. Slide that color to almost white and on its highest satuation.
  3. Pick a few spots to highlight. Usually I'd go for whatever are the lightest parts in the reference and/or to put something more into focus.

The picture I used as a reference was very overlit so basically half of the image is the highlight area. Don't go with that, ever.
I used my highlights on the eyes, between the shadows of the eyelashes, on the piercing and on a few spots on the teeth.

Tipp: Choose no more than 3 areas to highlight and let them be small spots.

The rest was just me having fun with making the pic look even dirtier. Added more color splatters and painterly strokes.

The End, I hope you enjoyed my little tutorial! If you have any more questions or suggestions for another tutorial, let me know in the coments or where ever you prefer.