These are the steps I took while painting “Portrait of Nathan”. The sketch was drawn with a ball point pen in a toned sketchbook. I used Photoshop CS and a Wacom Cintiq for the painting. The size of the painting is 8.6” w x 10” h, at 300 resolution.
Step 1. After scanning my sketch of Nathan, I choose Select All, copy that layer and paste another copy of the Nathan sketch above the background layer, one above the other. Then I switch to my background layer, Select All again and delete the Nathan sketch from the background layer. Now I select Layer Two which now has my Nathan sketch on it and set that layer to Multiply. Next I create a new layer above the Nathan Sketch layer and fill it with a flesh tone. The flesh color I choose to use in RGB Mode was R: 189, G: 127, B: 101. Then I bring the opacity level down to 58%. I adjust the levels until they feel right.
I do this to soften and lighten my sketch lines, this adds a nice mid tone color and value. I do not always start with this color, in fact, I hardly ever start with the same colors because each subject I paint presents a new mood or feeling that I want to capture. My photo reference felt cool and looked too green, I wanted a warm painting so that is why I choose a red flesh tone to start with. I tend to paint from dark to light, so the background here is used as a foundation to build from.
Step 2. In step 1 I set the layer with my Nathan sketch to Multiply. The reason is because now I can go to the background layer directly under the sketch layer and block in rough color and values without loosing my sketch lines. The brush I start with is a 13 round. I make sure that Other Dynamics is clicked on and that the Opacity Jitter is at 0%, Control is set to Pen Pressure, the Flow Jitter set to 0% and the Control below the Flow Jitter is set to Off. These settings give me the control that I prefer. I usually paint with my Opacity set to 85%-90% and my Flow set to 100%, although this sometimes differs depending on effect. Make sure that Shape Dynamics is clicked off.
What I typically do in this stage is use my eye drop tool to select the color I’ve created for the background and then use that color to begin my block in. Remember, the top layer, has been completely filled with a color (opacity brought down to 58%), so this means that when I block in my painting in the background layer, I cannot get too dark because the top layer will not allow it (you will need to experiment with this a bit to get a feel for it). I do this so that I can roughly build up my values in a controlled manner. At this stage of the painting, I am mostly concerned about painting the correct values. It is also important to know that in the block in stage I never zoom in too close. I paint from a distance and use only large brushes. This way I can focus on capturing shape and values, I merely suggest detail.