Painting light on portrait with clip studio


1. Using References

Let me start by saying.. It's hard to talk about light without a subject. In this tutorial, I decide to take a piece I did recently and walk you thru the tools, steps I took to create this portrait. Hopefully by the end of it, we can pick up some tips here and there.
This is a portrait/ light study, so In this painting.. I have a picture reference right beside my painting.. so I create grid and color pick color. I constantly check the proportion and color pick . Capturing the mood, understanding how the light behaves, , the asthetics, may be 90% of the likeness, these are the objectives of the piece.

2. Finding the "right" brush

1. 主線も水彩も厚塗りも一本でやる怠けものブラシ
This brush comes in a triangular shape. Onw side is sharp and the other side is soft and is great for blending. I will cover more on this later

2. オイルパステル
It paints solid color. The edge is sharp. The start and end of the stroke give a painterly look.

Brushes r very personal and really depend on which style of art work u r going for. Having said that, it totally worth the time trying out different brushes and understand why it (doesn't) works for u.

3. Blocking shapes

In this stage.. we are just focusing on the general shape of the subject.. shape of the hair.. the whole face and the body: For example, how they sit relative to each other.. Squint on the subject so you would see values mostly . In my case. I put a blur filter on top so I don't tie down with the details.

I also set up grid on the piece so I can constantly check if the feature is too high or the hair is too thick. Turn the grid on and off as you see fit.

4. Defining / scrupting the form

The are 2 main lights in this piece: the key light is on the right and the fill light is on the left. After establishing that, we build up the form with shadow, mid tone and high light. On each of the form( hair, face, and body.. etc) I would keep referring to reference and color pick.
Blending color is important for portrait. Skin , hair, eyes, nose, lips, hair strain reacts to light differently . Pay attention to where the light is (on the right and the left. Started roughing in the shadow on the hair. The cheek and the cast shadow at the back of the head / neck
blocking in color to define the form

Brush 1 (主線も水彩も厚塗りも一本でやる怠けものブラシ) is a very versatile brush. It gives me sharp edge and angle. So the rough in above are mostly accomplish with this brush. But on the other side of the brush it would leave a soft edge so it would blend well with adjacent color.

Brush 2 (オイルパステル) is a sold color. Whenever I found out color pick doesn't give me the color from the reference, I 'd use this brush. I still leave a soft painterly edge

5. Blending/ Smudging/ Transitioning

In this piece while it is realistic, I still want to keep a painterly feel to it so in the blend, I used the painterly blend (4) . However there are also times I found the strokes have overtaken the smooth surface, I would just go with the blend too.. (1)..
I used airbrush (2)sparingly, may only the her shoulder and neck. The reason is I don't want the strokes to take over the form .

Not very often we would talk about blending in the topic of light, however it plays an important role in realism. What I mean is light creates highlight, mid-tone and the absence of it creates shadow.. How the object surface react to light(how we blend the color) would give us clue what that object may be.

So at this stage I constantly get color pick.. blend it in with the existing color. pay attention to when you need to leave an edge tho.. (1) shows the brush gives you a solid color and no. 2 is the painterly blend used for the hair. (2) is to show the effect of the painterly blender I used for the highlighted hair on the right.. (3) is to show how I created the effect of light hitting on the forhead. while doing that, keep in mind the underlying structure/ form of the subject. (the hair mass, the nostrol, shoulder, collar bone.. etc) 'cause it's easy to lose track of that when we try to blend and make things smooth.

6. Tweaking and refining

There is a cool feature in clip studio paint, it's under navigation,(3) It allows you to flip, rotate, canvas on the fly. This often expose weired thing that I usually won't see after staring at my own painting for couple hours. The right eye and eye brow is too high in this case. so I cut it out and adjust accordingly. The right shoulder, after careful examination on the reference, I found out the the right shoulder is actually NOT entirely covered by the hair. so I cut out the hair on the right and define the shoulder area so when the hair is back on, you can still see the shoulder on the right and it lay down a solid foundation for the cast shadow of the hair to cast shadow on.

Area1: Neck middle tone, a lot of the anatomy, form changes took place subtly. This area took me some time to get it right . Just needs to be patient. Constantly go back and forth with checking the reference, painting and blending . Sometime it helps to leave the area and do other parts then come back to see it with a pair of fresh eyes.
Area 2: where the hair touches her shoulder: This is an interesting place to paint. The golden hair touches the skin and casted a shadow. However the area is bright so the shadow immediately transition back to mid tone. That's why it leaves a sharp edge under the golden hair
Area3: The blonde hair is so thin and low density so even its behind the light, lots of light still comes through. Thats why it still appears to be the lightest.

7. Adding Details

Here are some highlights of the snapshot above:
Hair: Bonde hair is reflective. I am tempted to draw the individual strain of hair but in the end I am glad I didn't. This is meant to be suggested and the viewers can complete the rest. Also I used hard eraser to erase from the golden hair mass on the right so the background would come through naturally. And then I used the G pen to draw the remaining of the hair strain

At this stage, constantly tweaked the proportion of the various feature like eye brow, eye sockets pupils , the nose using the mighty liquidfy tool. I really like how the eye brow/ socket area turned out. I used the no. 1 brush in one pass : It achieves the sharp edge with the skin created a great shape, it then blends naturally towards the end. I applied a charco brush on the brow.

8. Final Touches

After a few nights. the piece got to a point where I am happy with how this turn out. However. I found that the piece needs some punch.. what I mean is the color range is a bit toned down. At this point.. I use the windows> filter> tonal Curve and adjust the range. Notice the color is more saturated and the dark/ shadow area is more saturated. the hair on the right has a nice orange tone. The above image seems to go overboard a bit.. so I tune it back down a bit and here is the final image

Thanks for swinging by. Feel free to comment and like. Any feedback and comment are more than welcome!

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