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Gone are the days of drawing a portrait using pencils and brushes. Digital is the new canvas and Photoshop is the new tool. Digital Illustrator, Vivek Nag is fascinated by ‘Sadhus’ and here he takes us through the making of a portrait using Photoshop.

Portrait

Step 01

The first step is to make a rough patchy sketch of the character. It’s best to do this using a chalk brush or special Photoshop brushes which are meant to replicate a traditional look on the digital canvas. The lines mostly trace the shadows and/or contours of the face as seen in the image.

Portrait

Step 02

Taking the rough sketch as the base, the next step is to start making line art. This is made using the pressure sensitive round hard brush to create thin and to the point lines. Detailing is important in this step. Building upon the rough chalky sketch is beneficial. When satisfied, hide the sketch layer to proceed.

Portrait

Step 03

The next step is to start with the colours. Irrespective of the colours being used in the portrait, it’s best to dim down the background. This offers contrast and a better understanding of how bright the colours that are being used in the painting actually are. The next step is to make a palette of colours using the original image. Depending on the intricacy of colors in a photograph, it’s advisable to make a palette of 5 to 8 colors. In this case, a palette of six colours was used. It’s best to select colours in such a way that for any other shade or tint you require, one’s ability to create that using a combination of the set colours in the palette. As seen above, start filling the composition with patchwork. Using flats helps launch into the fray of the painting.

Portrait

Step 04

Taking the previous step forward, it’s now all about concentrating on detailing. Smaller brush strokes are employed as well as the colours being used are more varied. Notice how the freedoms of the strokes have become a little more restricted here. The line art acts as guiding points and this is the stage where it is put to most use.

Portrait

Step 05

Minute details start from here. The eyes are the most important part of a portrait. A lot can be conveyed from the eyes. For the most natural look, one needs to make the eyes detailed and relatable. The blending of the strokes also starts from this step. As is evident in the image, a certain level of ‘rawness’ is maintained with every stroke rather than applying a smooth blend. Keeping hints of patches provides a natural feel, especially on the skin. Also, one needs to keep the sheen of the eye in mind that is executed with a simple brush stroke, keeping minimal blending. The more striking the sheen, the better the eye tends to look.

Depending on the intricacy of colours in a photograph, it’s advisable to make a palette of 5 to 8 colours while performing a digital sketch.

Portrait

Step 06

The next step is replicating the previous steps with the lips and beard. Here, treat lips the same way skin near the eyes was treated. The beard however forms a rather tricky part of the portrait. The beard is mainly just brushed strokes with hardly any blending at all. The direction and the thickness of each stroke matters. For example, the brushes below the lip and at the origin of the beard are thick, whereas the strokes in the beard are rather fine.

Portrait

Step 07

The prior two steps are repeated on the remaining parts of face. The sides of the face are left undone because it will add on to the next steps. There are still many strokes on the face which are strongly patchy and look undone. However, this adds to the composition. The parts of any illustration with the most amount of detail and/or contrast attracts attention first; in this case, the eyes.

Portrait

Step 08

Once the face is done, this is where one needs to start working on the background. Against the already set dull gray background, start putting horizontal strokes with fine art brushes. The colours used are part of the portrait itself – reds, yellows and whites. This enables the background to compliment the main subject of the painting and establishes a flow to the composition. But also remember not to steal the focus from the subject by using colors that are too vibrant.

Portrait

Step 09

This step is called ‘The Haze’. This is where the focal points and edges are merged into the background. For example, the yellow ochre on the forehead is transformed into a form of smoke (haze) which drifts away from the head. This is still done using fine art brushes. Along with that, more horizontal strokes have been pulled around the beard and hair. These strokes are pulled in about 30% opacity and serve to blend the edges till the background looks like a part of the subject itself.

Portrait

Step 10

The last and final step is to add a layer mask. This is where curves are applied to the artwork. This is where contrast is also added to the painting. This helps the shades to pop out and there is a lot more depth than there was before.

Published in Issue 22

This issue is dedicated to the talented design graduates who are not just looking to work but seeking experience in order to realise the greater goal of life. The issue features various designers from India and abroad. Kevin Roodhorst from The Netherlands realised his goal so early in life that propelled him to start his career as a designer as young as 13. To name a few talents we have Vivek Nag from Fine Arts from Rachna Sansad Mumbai, Simran Nanda from Pearl Academy New Delhi, Anisha Raj from MAEER MIT Institute of Design Pune, Giby Joseph from Animation and Art School Goa and many more. This issue gives a fresh perspective of talented graduates and their unique approach to design.

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The enchanting portraits of Anna Dittmann evoke different emotions. It is a right blend of real emotions showcased in a dreamy, whimsical setting using delicate detailing with natural elements. Here, she gives us an insight into her creative process and discusses how one’s passion can be moulded to create striking designs.

Enchanting Natural Portraits
Oil
Enchanting Natural Portraits
Chalice

CG: Your illustrations are mystical portraits with delicate detailing which is heavily influenced by natural elements. What fascinates you to utilise these elements in your illustrations?

AD: I love the beauty and unpredictability of nature – it perfectly complements the human face. Most of my work consists of portraits because I enjoy depicting characters and emotions. I often draw inspiration from movement and organic shapes by fusing abstract natural elements. Environment evokes a sense of mystery which is very appealing. Therefore, I tend to create soft pieces with a combination of graphics and realistic elements.

Enchanting Natural Portraits
Spore
Enchanting Natural Portraits
Ink

CG: As a digital artist, what aspects of the tool attract you the most? Do you like to work in the traditional mediums as well?

AD: Digital art gives you the freedom to make as many studies/mistakes/finished pieces without wasting materials. When it comes to working with traditional mediums, I have recently enjoyed using pastels, watercolours, and oils for personal studies and I try to incorporate the textures of these to bring a spontaneous effect in my art created digitally too.

Enchanting Natural Portraits
Petal
Enchanting Natural Portraits
Camouflage

CG: What are the key points that you take into consideration when developing an idea into a design?

AD: With the portrait as the central aspect of my work, rendering and detailing facial features is the key. I love observing unique features and painting beauty that might not be traditional, but still striking. Through my art, I hope to inspire a sense of otherworldly beauty and mystery. The balance of a realistic figure within decorative surroundings is an aesthetic that I love and often try to apply to my work.

Enchanting Natural Portraits
Myriad
Enchanting Natural Portraits
Orb

CG: Your portraits illustrations are realistic and evoke emotions. How do you manage to do so? Are there any specific tools/ elements that you incorporate?

AD: Many of my portraits deal with liberation, release, and the search for a dream state. Perhaps because that’s what art is to me. Painting is therapeutic. I create my works digitally using Adobe Photoshop CS6 and my trusty Wacom Intuos 3 tablet. Mainly use a chalky brush throughout my process, as well as various watercolour textures that I’ve found and made for a traditional feel. Normally, I start with a vague concept in mind and sketch out my idea in black and white. After tweaking the composition, values, and being generally nitpicky, I start seeking out references and refining my sketch. Next, I start throwing in textures and add colour using layer modes. Toward the end, I detail the piece and call it a day.

Enchanting Natural Portraits
Dawn
Enchanting Natural Portraits
Bauhinia

CG: How has formal education in Art and Design helped your process or creations?

AD: I attended the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia and received my Illustration BFA in 2015. I loved being surrounded by creative people with a similar passion for art, who pushed, taught, and inspired me on a daily basis. I think the greatest benefit was learning more about the business side of illustration through my professors who had practical experience and making connections with other artists. However, I find that art school is really what you make of it and not entirely necessary for an artistic career (aside from those majors that require a degree). In the end, I feel that most growth occurs by the time and effort you’re willing to put in for improvement, as well as being driven by self-initiated projects.

Enchanting Natural Portraits
Tigress
Enchanting Natural Portraits
Duo

CG: How important is a colour palette in design?

AD: Over the years, my style has become more muted and monochromatic. I’m drawn to works that have colour restraints and which emphasises the atmosphere. Muted hues can often lead to greater balance and provide cohesion throughout a piece. There’s a delicate vintage quality that can result in limiting a colour palette. The colours I choose are inspired by flora, fauna (particularly insects), and other artworks. Even though I tend to start in black and white and prefer limited palettes, adding hue is my favourite step. After seeing an inspiring colour scheme, there’s nothing I want to do more than paint.

Enchanting Natural Portraits
The-Forgotten-Tale-of-Larsa
Enchanting Natural Portraits
Felis

CG: What aspect of illustrating excites you the most?

AD: I love everything about art and get very excited about every project I undertake. I love all the emotions that art evokes in me; it could be the rush when something is going well or the frustration of working for hours with no fruitful outcome. It is the thrill when I find a beautiful artwork, the overwhelming feeling that turns my frustration into inspiration. I consider myself so lucky that people have given me opportunities to create art both personally and professionally.

Enchanting Natural Portraits
Flood
Enchanting Natural Portraits
Fragment

CG: What is your advice to budding artists?

AD: When you love what you do, the process involved and the experience, it will definitely show in your work! Be disciplined; draw every day even if it is just a little sketch. Introspect and understand the elements that attracts you the most and what you personally enjoy creating. By doing so, your own voice will emerge. Look for possibilities and gain an online presence to showcase your work; never stop making lots of wonderful things (whatever that may mean to you).

Enchanting Natural Portraits
Soul Breather
Enchanting Natural Portraits
Beverley

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