Here's a work-in-progress sheet for my painting ”The Last Paladin” and some explanation of the steps. It's fanart of Gabriel, the main protagonist of Last Man Standing, which is an amazing project by a talented artist and hell of a nice guy Dan LuVisi
. I highly recommend everyone to check it out-> LMS
I used a lot of reference for the design, which was really interesting as I haven't done this kind of stuff much. I also learned a lot of new things doing this, I hope these steps are helpful or just fun to some of you.
1) After many, many different thumbnails and poses I finally ended up with this value sketch. The pose provided enough action and the composition worked pretty nicely in my opinion, so I decided to continue the piece from this.
2) I started to lay more defined values and forms to the picture. I also drew a vague lineart and made a selection for the character, just to keep it in it's own space so I could change and modify it without affecting the background and vice versa.
3) Next step was building up a base for the colors. This was done by multiple layers with layer modes like color, overlay and color dodge, switching the opacities and just trying it out. Personally, I like to introduce colors to a painting in the earliest possible stage, most times after the main idea is set in values. The outcome will be more ”painterly” this way when each brushstroke has it's own color, when comparing it to coloring a finished (or almost finished) black and white image.
4) In this phase I used a few photos for the background that I have taken, with low opacity and transformed them to match the perspective, also erasing parts of them with different brushes. The idea behind this method is to have something on the canvas that you can get a grip off, it will feed your imagination and it's easier to start building up the forms when you have some noise already in there. I've seen this done before, especially by concept artists but it was a new technique for me, really interesting. I also started to flesh out the character just by painting it, still having the layer mask on.
5) Just more painting and detailing, worked more on the character and the background, also rendered the guns. As I am not comfortable doing firearms, I took some reference for the guns and the blades from LMS: Killbook of a Bounty Hunter and a gunbook that I have, following some design aspects and changing others. I made the guns on their separate layers, later merging them together with the character.
6) Final step. I did some rendering here also, but the main point is this keyword: LAYERS! If you are doing stuff you feel can go wrong, is really detailed or technical, use layers. Just in case even if you fail something, you don't lose the original. I don't remember how many layers I had for this painting, but there's several for the visor reflections, one for the markings on the armor pieces and visor, one for the pistols' graphics and so on. Not to even mention the foreground elements, those sparks/whatever and the bullet shells. As the last things I did some color overlays/color corrections and a couple of blurs to pop the focal point out more.THE FINAL PAINTING