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Illustrate a Beautiful Feather Inspired Portrait

In today’s tutorial you’ll learn how to create a beautiful digital portrait inspired by the colorful feathers from peacocks. You will need a pen tablet for this process and a basic understanding of digital painting.

Software: Adobe Photoshop CS6 + Wacom Intuos 3 Pen Tablet

Difficulty: Intermediate

Completion Time: 10 hours

Images Used For This Tutorial

Stock Photo - Fashionable Beauty Model Sensual Brunette - Smooth Brown Hair

Fashionable beauty model sensual brunette smooth brown hair:16762259 ©gromovataya

Stock Photo - Close up of a peacock feather

Close up of a peacock feather:12334335 ©V S Anandha Krishna

Creating the Grayscale Base

Step 1

Let’s begin! Create an 8.5 x 11 inch document with a dpi of 300 in Photoshop. Set your Brush Tool (B) to the color Black with the Transfer checked as well as the Pen Pressure for Opacity. Place your reference right next to your canvas and begin sketching the model to the best of your ability. You can also simply trace your reference for a better sketch.

Step 2

Use the Rotate View Tool (R) to rotate the sketch upside down so that you can sketch the peacock feathers into her hair. This will allow the feathers to blend seamlessly. Use several references of peacocks to achieve the perfect look.

When you’re finished, rotate back to the normal view and use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) to slightly rotate your final sketch.

Step 3

Now let’s begin shading! Use a solid round brush to paint varying tones of gray to represent the shadows of the painting. Try to allow the white parts of the background to peek through as the highlights for our later steps.

Adding Color

Step 4

Once you have all your tonal values set for the lighting scheme, you can move onto color. Use a Hard Round Brush to paint a light tan color for the skin. Set the layer to Multiply. Then use a dark tan color for the hair, setting that new layer to Color.

Step 5

Keep in mind that It takes many layers of color to transform a grayscale painting to a colorful one. So be patient! For better contrast of these base colors let’s add a layer of Color Balance. Set the Shadows to: Red +31, Green -40, Blue -48, the Midtones to: Red +9, Blue +42, and the Highlights to: Red -13.

Step 6

Now with a layer set to Multiply, begin painting in more colors influenced by the peacock colors. These colors will help to deepen the painting for a sultrier mood. Then use a layer set to Overlay to paint white and bright warm colors to bring out the glow in our model’s hair and face.

Step 7

Continue tweaking the colors of your painting, relying on experimentation with Blend Modes and Adjustment Layers to get the perfect color scheme. Take a break from the computer if you need to in order to come back to the portrait with fresh eyes.

Step 8

Use a Hard Round Brush with an Opacity of 50-100% to start cleaning up the painting. Focus on areas that have yet to be defined like the peacock feathers and details in the face.

Continue to clean up the painting with a heavy solid brush. Use your original references again to further illustrate the peacock inspired earrings and to incorporate more peacock colors into the painting.

Step 9

Add some beautiful makeup to your sultry model. You can add lipstick with a simple layer of red set to Multiply and define the eye makeup by hand on a normal layer. Use makeup references to study the wispiness of eyelashes as well as the structure of the eye.

Step 10

Almost finished! If at any point you feel like the anatomy of your subject is off, simply bring your painting into Liquify and adjust it using the Forward Warp Tool. This is the last step I took in order to create better symmetry in the face.

You can create beautiful and elegant paintings in Photoshop as long as you have enough patience and determination. That’s the end of this tutorial; I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about this eye opening process. Good luck!

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