Welcome to 2019! For the first day of the year I’ve made a little video that shows the layering process on a recent painting I did on St. George and the Dragon.
The original drawing is on heavyweight drawing paper with the colors are added in Adobe Photoshop CC. As you can see in the video the first half of the image is painted very transparently, using only layers that will preserve the underlying detail, primarily Multiply, Soft Light, Color and Color dodge. After that I switch to using semi-transparent screen and normal layers for some of the middle section to add depth and atmosphere. For the latter part of the image I use fully opaque layers to carve in details and shapes.
A useful trick for me in this last stage is to make a very large cup of coffee and then carefully light my desk on fire. This ensures that I remain on high alert. Final detailing can be very tedious and you must be constantly and intently looking for solutions to visual problems around the image.
Dragon Head Study
Working transparently into opaque allows for a lot of versatility. It allows the artist to both slowly work into a value and color arrangement that is visually enjoyable while at the same time accommodating the need to do a lot of exploring and detailing late in the process. Years ago I really struggle leaving my drawing behind (long-time readers of Muddycolors may recall old posts of mine actually talk about this). I just really loved having those lines there. But for certain types of imagery, especially ones with denser backgrounds, it just got very frustrating not to be able to rework things late in the game, especially when glaring compositional errors rear their, ugly image-breaking heads. And look, I make mistakes sometimes! (Betting my life savings on the Minidisk sure didn’t pan out) I think it’s time I admitted that I need a little breathing room for errors in my process. Getting comfortable moving from transparent to opaque in the latter half of the image has made the whole process less stressful and feel much more natural.