Painting Tutorial: I Do Mean Impassible

I'm going to give a tutorial today of how to digitally paint something like my "You Mean Impassible" painting. I did a scene from my favorite story, Alice in Wonderland, but you can apply these techniques to any painting you do.

"Why it's simply impassible!" 
"Why, don't you mean impossible?" 
"No, I do mean impassible. Nothing's impossible!”

First of all, with any digital painting, you must have a drawing tablet. It makes things so much easier. You can find a whole range of tablet prices, but I use a Cintiq, which is a screen you draw directly on. I recommend looking for used ones on Ebay if it's something you're interested in!

I like to paint in Photoshop, but you can use any drawing software you prefer. If you do have Photoshop, my favorite brushes are by Kyle Webster. I highly recommend purchasing his megapack, as it includes a variety of style of brushes.

Okay, that said, let's get started! I used Gouache brushes for the majority of this painting.

I started with a rough sketch. I decided to do a black background as a lot of this painting is going to be in shadow. Make sure you pick your light source before you start. Mine will be in the keyhole/mouth of the doorknob.

Fill in a base color for the face. I chose a dark blue/purple, as I want to push some of it into black shadow and highlight other places.

Block in the eye with a dark gray.

I used the Dodge tool to highlight the part of the eye closet to the light source (keyhole in doorknob) and the Burn tool to darken the other side of the eye.

I painted in an iris and pupil. A few things to note here: add a white highlight to the pupil of the eye, add a black shadow to the darker part of the eye (along the edge) and at the bottom of the eye. Then, add another white highlight line above the dark edge on the bottom. It helps to make the eyes look wet and more alive.

Block in the basic light and shadow of the face. I wanted most of the highlight to have a blue tone (as that is what my light source will be). I just streaked it in while creating defining shadows around the nose, lips, and ear. (Zoom in to see more closely).

I turned off my Sketch layer so I could see the face more clearly. Here I switched to a more "rough" gouache brush so that it'll look a bit more painterly. I continued to push tones. Don't forget your light source! I added more highlights to the nose and forehead and chin, as they are closest to the keyhole. I added a highlight on the cheek, but darkened the back of the nose. I also use the Smudge tool occasionally to smooth out some of the texture.  As you go, put harder shadows against the nose, ears, and other defined parts of the face. I added in the eyebrow and put more of a highlight on the lip. Something to think about: don't just draw an eye or the nose, draw the space around these things also. 

Turn your sketch layer back on. Now I just color in the hair shape with a dark blue.

Streak in a few strands of hair. I used just a slightly lighter blue of the main body of the hair, and I used lighter and lighter colors for the parts closest to the keyhole (light source).

I made the brush a little smaller and added very light blue and white highlights to the hair. Again, put these closest to the light source. I then switched to the Smudge tool to smooth out some pieces' texture.

Now I went to black and added in shadows. Smudge as you go. Remember to think about the way the hair falls. I am consistent in the same shapes. If you were to use vertical lines, for example, it would totally flatten the image out. 

Even more shadows with a bigger brush size. Add more shadows to the back (left side) of the hair because this is away from our light source. 

Now I made my brush really small and added white "flyaway" pieces of hair. These are on the side that the most light will hit. Smudge some of these too!

Now let's move to the sleeve! Since the sleeve won't have as much light hitting it, I didn't bother painting the entire thing in. I added just lines where light would hit the fabric, so the side closest to the light source, a few streaks of bunched fabric, and a little bit on the back of the sleeve. I used a dark blue.

With black, I added some black streaks overlapping some of the blue - mostly towards the back of the sleeve. I then used the Smudge tool to "blend" some of the blue into the shadows. I also added a light blue highlight to the right side of the sleeve.

Now for the arm! I left it black because again, not a whole light of light will be hitting it. I just outlined the edges of the arm, adding a thicker line to the right side. Then I streaked light blue on the right edge.

Use the Smudge tool to soften it.

Add in fingers. Same rule applies to them. Outline just the outer edge and put lighter colors towards the light source. The left side fingers are barely visible.

Now I'm adding in a little apron that is part of Alice's outfit. It's usually white but because of the lighting, I started with a medium blue. I then put lighter blues towards the edges closet to the light source.

Smudge out some of the texture and then add highlights with white.

For the rest of the dress, I want it to be more implied than actually painting in the whole thing. This is because you won't see a lot of it in the lighting. So I use dark blue and Smudged it out in the same direction that the fabric would naturally fall. 

Add highlights.

Here is what it looks like without the sketch layer.

Okay now fill in the keyhole.

I selected the layer and used the Gradient tool with a light blue/dark blue color scheme.

Switch to a Splatter brush and add both light blue and white splatter in the keyhole.

Paint in the doorknob with a dark gray.

Use the Burn tool to add shadows, focusing on the outer edges of the doorknob.

I added black to the little design on top of the doorknob, as well as the facial features. Smudge it out!

Dodge tool to add highlights around the face of the doorknob.

Paint in the doorknob gray. Burn the top edge (since the light source is below) and Dodge the bottom edge closest to the light source.

Add dark blue streaks to the door and Smudge them out. Follow the texture of the door panels so that it implies that there is more in the shadows.

Do the same for the floor, making sure to follow the direction your floor is going in. I used gray. 

This is a small thing, but I noticed that the hand still looks too pronounced. So I switched to a soft brush (0% hardness) with black and added a shadow to hide half of the hand. 

Switch back to the rough gouache brush (or whatever you've been using) and add a few light blue highlights to the door and floorboards. Remember, follow the pattern you've already created!

Switch back to a soft brush. Make the brush big and use light blue to stamp a glow over the keyhole.

Go back to the Splatter brush and add both light blue and white splatters coming out of the doorknob.

I switched back to the soft brush and put a black shadow on the right side of the door to tone down the glow over there. Then sign your work!

I hope this was helpful! This was a long one but was very fun. I hope you learned something!

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