Kabuki Mermaid

So my first ever real digital painting is this Kabuki Mermaid concept, which I literally just finished today.

Learned a bunch of things while working on this:

1) At 17.5 hours, it didn’t take significantly longer than any of my previous pieces (I finished a mechanical dragon illustration a couple of weeks back that took about the same amount of time).

2) So far, I’ve only been using the simple round brush tool and the smudge tool to do everything from the folds in the fabric to the facial features to the detailing in her tail fin. I’m not entirely sure what the other brushes are for, to be totally honest.

3) This style of painting forces you to combine your layers, which I find very uncomfortable. If you want to get a good blend between your highlights, midtones, and shadows, you have to have them all on a single layer and then smudge the edges between them in order to get a real smooth gradation. This is the total opposite of how I color all my previous stuff and it felt really weird.

4) One of the consequences to having everything on a single layer is that it makes it a lot harder to cheat your color choices. You can’t just paint an entire shadow layer in blue-gray and then use Blending Modes like “Multiply” or “Overlay” to make it harmonize with the underlying layers. You actually have to pick the correct color, which is another thing I never did much of.

5) The structure of this piece is ok but not great, and I think that I wanted too badly to “learn to paint” and didn’t focus on making the pose more interesting. I guess I’ll save that improvement for next time.

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