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Making of Be My Valentine by Omar Díaz, Spain



Hello, my name is Omar Díaz and I´m a Spanish Graphic Designer and Digital Painter. I´m currently studying the concept of art for the movies and videogames, working at the same time with freelance.

In this tutorial I will explain how I have done one of my latest work, ”Be my Valentine” , I really hope you find it easy to follow even though this is not a strict step by step walkthrough, because I usually work on all elements of the image at a time, and then increasing the quality and detail gradually.

I rather prefer to work this way, and I never lose sight of the work as a unit, in this way, I ensure that there is no major difference in quality or detail between elements, and allows me much more freedom to improvise in the early stages, experiment or fixing problems without redoing a lot of work.

I will focus on the technical side, sharing some tricks and resources, as well as in theory, because most of the success of an image depends on finding the right solution in every situation.

Preparing the Image

referencesAs a personal work with entire freedom, I didn´t need planning as much as in a commissioned work, but I recommend to spend some time preparing the image, you ´ll save many headaches later.

When a subject is chosen, gather references is a must, do not be ashamed to use them, but, don’t only limit yourself to copy or tracing images, use them for inspiration to create something totally new.

For this work I had it quite clear: I wanted one of my dollie-like girls in a Valentine’s Day aesthetic, very simple concept.

The preparation of this image focused on the choice of pose, color palette and gathered symbolism or history.

The main colors will be a deep red for the girl and a desaturated blue for the background, to increase the contrast, the main light will be a very cold blue-cyan and shadows will be very warm reddish-brown. One of my references used was a speed painting that I wanted to rework from some time ago.

Getting Started

I always start my work with a very simple sketch, with blobs of colors instead a line art sketch or something like that, in this case I used Corel Painter and a circular brush with both size and opacity set to pressure (you can create it starting from the basic round on Tinting category).Of course, you can also start with a hard brush in Photoshop with the same features, it´s a matter of personal choice, I find Painter more pleasant than Photoshop in these early steps, with greater pressure sensitive and nicer blending.

I worked with a huge brush size, at first is difficult to handle, but practicing and applying a very low pressure, you´ll get very good results, being able to work on large and small details without changing the size of the brush every second.

I worked on basic shapes, with full opacity, no worrying about the detail or the anatomy at the moment. The key now is to put all in place, get a more or less defined pose, a nice composition and an attractive color scheme.

I wanted a beautiful and innocent face with features similar to those of a porcelain doll. This unrealistic stylization allows me be free of references, while I keep my own distinct style.

first step

The expression should be very delicate, so I avoid her to look directly at the viewer; it gives a thoughtful look, perhaps thinking of her lover…

I decided the placement of the light too, the main source will come from the top right. Later I will add more subtle sources of light.

In this early step be sure to flip the image horizontally from time to time to prevent any disproportions or anatomy mistakes and be free to use liquify or/and the transform tool.


When the main features are in good shape it´s time to move into Photoshop and start detailing. Here I used these brushes:


- Airbrush. Used at low flow for adding bold lights and smoothest areas. opacity & flow settled to pressure.

- Hard edged brush. Used for 80% of the process at high opacity (80-40%), opacity & flow settled to pressure, shape dynamics at 60%

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