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Olivera's art thread, of the non-doodle variety

OllieOllie Registered User regular
edited November 2014 in Artist's Corner
former title - woman holding a glowing orb of light - need help figuring out how to color this properly

Hello! I used to post here some years back, typically under the name 'Believe', but I outgrew that name sometime before puberty! I already had this name registered for my e-mail, otherwise I'd re-do it as Olivera to avoid confusion with Mr. Moss, but oh well. Anyway.

I'm looking for feedback on how to do soft lighting, particularly on skin. I'm having a helluva time getting the skin right here, though it is better than my first (extremely pink) attempt. I got the idea for this from just looking at how the light of my iPhone 4 screen makes my fingers look almost glow-y in how it reflects off of them, but in a very faint and soft way. I dunno where the idea of a woman holding a ~magical glowing ball~ came from but I figured this would be a good practice painting. I'm also trying to get away from doing outline stuff digitally and learn more about painting an image, rather than drawing it and coloring it in.

I'm working on this in Manga Studio 5. The bottom is missing 'cause I was zoomed in and didn't notice the bottom was cut off from the screen. :p


Thanks for any and all feedback!

Ollie on


  • OllieOllie Registered User regular
    Some more progress! Cleaned it up a bit. It's taking a different direction than the one I originally envisioned but I kinda like it and I'm gonna go with the flow.


  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    You aren't off to a bad start, are you using any references? How big is the canvas?

    Is she just hanging out in some clouds?

  • OllieOllie Registered User regular
    Nope, no references! ...yet. A friend sent me some photos she found that would be useful for this, but what you see so far is pretty much just me. I just had a random image in my mind and decided to go for it. It's coming out like a goddess holding the moon in the clouds, and I'm gonna go with that, but it wasn't meant to be originally - just a lady in some kind of flowing garbs holding some glowing orb of light. I'm thinking of changing her hair to black so it can blend into a starry sky. c:

    As for the's ~3600x5000 pixels. I scanned the original sketch pose from my sketchbook, which was only maybe 4x2 inches but at a really high resolution. I'm still kind of new at Manga Studio 5 so I'm not familiar with how sizing works, as I've been a Photoshop person for the most part until recently. (I don't have Photoshop installed yet on this PC, which I built just this summer.)

  • NightDragonNightDragon 6th Grade Username Registered User regular
    If you're not using reference, start using reference! You can solve a lot of problems and improve the piece hugely by yourself by just paying attention to references. To start, try looking at the colors created by bright lights against light skin (light ON skin, and bright light BEHIND skin). If you're imagining the orb light to be very very cool or blue-ish in color, your present color scheme only needs a little tweaking. If you're thinking it is a warm color, your colors will need to warm up. Regardless, you have a lot of blue everywhere and I think you could warm it up a tad in the skin or hair without issue.

    Something to be aware of is how very bright light makes occluding objects look dark. If you look up at a very bright sky, buildings and trees will often look very dark by comparison, since there is so much contrast. If you have a very bright light behind hands, they will likely look rather dark, but have some warmth show up between the fingers (and sometimes even the palm) because the light is actually going through the hands and lighting up the blood vessels.


    If you have a bright flashlight, a great way to see this working is to find a really dark room or closet, turn it on and cover the top of the flashlight with your hand (it's also just really cool because sometimes you can even see your BONES!).

    Your lighting is also really really soft and ambient...but the light from the orb would likely be hitting some places much more strongly, which would result in a harder edge between the lit areas and those in shadow. The more curved an object is, the less of its surface will be directly facing the light. Her torso, for example, is lit all the way around...don't be afraid to really push the darks on the other side of her arm, her torso, her neck, etc. It may seem counterintuitive to add a lot of dark shadow to a piece when you're attempting to sell the idea of a "really bright light source"...but that's actually how you SELL the idea that the light is bright - by having bright values play with really dark values. The high contrast helps gives the illusion of a bright light.

  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited September 2014
    Okay, so I have some crits that may be too late, But I wanted to say a few things,

    1) When you are truly trying to tackle something, Take reference. If you have a smart phone, this is actually really, really easy now. You don't have to take a studio lighting class and have a perfect camera to accomplish this. Most of the time, I get this done without even having someone around to help. You can basically save yourself alot of guess work and internet searching if you are willing to just put yourself in the photo, especially when it comes to lighting set ups, it will just make your life so much easier. So, here we go:

    I took a lampshade off a lamp and balanced on my desk chair arm. Not Ideal, but suitable results. I put on a work out shirt so you could see my sick guns:
    The first pics I from my desk were too low, so I rigged up the most easy and ghetto camera holder in the world:
    Anywhere in your house that has dry wall, you can do this, super easy. all you need is a phone/device with a forward facing camera. After doing this and continuing to be gross and not take a shower and comb my hair, I went ahead and tried to apply the new logic to your picture for like 40minutes:
    (This is way more cartoony than you are going for, I know, but I cartoony is my default mode)
    A few things I noticed. You said your first attempt was really pink, but this new version is totally grey. Shine a light through your fingers, It illuminates the blood vessels:
    This is an effect that is easy to exaggerate. If you are like me and you like obnoxious colors, that is something you can be pretty heavy handed with. If not, what you can do is lay down the extremes and then scale it back. If you look up reference for "color zones" you can see what portrait artists consider the under-painting colors for the face:

    The other thing is to remember to stay broad with your forms, when it comes to something like hair, you dont want to get into the strands right away. build the first blocks as if out of clay, and then drill down to the details. Heres a little gif of my layers.

    Good luck. Try and stick it out for a bit, then walk away. Apply your new knowledge to your next piece, and take all the steps to set it up.

    EDIT: DAMNIT @NightDragon‌

    Iruka on
  • OllieOllie Registered User regular
    edited September 2014
    Sweet! Thanks for your feedback guys :)

    @NightDragon yes, the light is meant to be a cooler white, but I'm not sure exactly how bright a light it would be, since I imagined it to be a bit soft. I guess if it's reflecting off of so much and lighting up the stuff around it, it should shine through the fingers' flesh at least somewhat. I was actually looking at some other images a friend sent me, which I will post below just for the sake of having everything in one place, and yes, I definitely need to push things to be a bit darker. Perhaps I should hold off on obsessing over the skin colors and focus on how to build the surroundings, since I'd have to re-do it all once I realize that thing or that other thing or etc. is a reflective light source.



    2dhbe51.jpg (just a reference for the hands)

    @Iruka those are some enormously helpful images. Thanks so much for doing all that work for me!* The issue with most lighting that I have access to/would actually think of using is that it tends to be a very harsh warm color, and this is more soft and luminescent and more neutral-leaning-cool.

    I haven't really worked on the image since my last update so it's not too late at all. C: I'll crack it open now and see what I can get done before I head to bed. Gracias!

    *I assume you didn't have these pictures lying around beforehand. Even if you did, I appreciate it.

    Ollie on
  • OllieOllie Registered User regular
    edited September 2014
    Changed the skin coloring quite a bit and re-did her right hand to look a bit more ball-holdy. Altogether a step in the right direction, I hope? More to come later! I am nervous about doing that face. :D


    mm...I might do the hand and arm pose over again. Not sure.

    Also, should I start placing images under a spoiler? I would definitely do that for any NSFW images, but it seems like the loading takes forever if they all have to show at once.

    Ollie on
  • ScosglenScosglen Registered User regular
    edited September 2014
    I'd say this is a step forward. The subsurface light scattering on the fingers goes a long way towards selling the authenticity of the light, and adding more interest to what is otherwise a nearly monochrome palette in the skin tone.

    Speaking a little about anatomy and form:

    The hand and arm in the foreground isn't bad, but could be improved by consulting reference and adding a few more specific touches to certain body landmarks. I might personally add a little more hard detail to the joints and muscle in the elbow, and joints of the fingers.

    I'm not super thrilled about the lighting on the face. With this kind of strong single-direciton underlighting there is a lot of opportunity to lean into some fun sculpting with the planes of the face, but so far it's looking a bit flat. The reference you posted has some great examples of that kind of light playing on the facial planes and creating a really striking effect that you're not really capturing yet, and I'd suggest studying them a bit more even if they're not quite posed right for you to reference directly in your painting. I would also advise caution when describing nasolabial folds (smile lines) under lighting conditions like this, as it's extremely easy to be too harsh and end up making them far too prominent.

    There's a bit of a perspective problem with the way her far shoulder and neck is drawn. It reads almost as if there is some kind of skin membrane connecting between her shoulder and ear, and I would redraw that area a bit more like how Iruka constructed it in her paintover.

    As far as spoilers and NSFW, the images are still cached and loaded whether they're under a spoiler or not, so I would probably just change your thread title to have NSFW in the name and throw images up plainly in the thread.

    Scosglen on
  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited September 2014
    Scos has great advice.
    Ollie wrote: »
    @Iruka those are some enormously helpful images. Thanks so much for doing all that work for me!* The issue with most lighting that I have access to/would actually think of using is that it tends to be a very harsh warm color, and this is more soft and luminescent and more neutral-leaning-cool.

    I haven't really worked on the image since my last update so it's not too late at all. C: I'll crack it open now and see what I can get done before I head to bed. Gracias!

    *I assume you didn't have these pictures lying around beforehand. Even if you did, I appreciate it.

    Taking these pic maybe took 20 minutes, it wasn't a big deal, which is why I encourage people to do the same. Dont let little things like "The light is too warm" stop you either. Even in manga studio, you have the tools to manipulate what you take:
    Try to remember that gathering reference isn't always about finding the image that closest to what you have in your head, rather about filling in the logical gaps between whats in your minds eye, reality, and what you want to be on the paper. There will be some things you imagine that will have to change, and there will be some things in the reference that need to be ditched. If your lamp is too harsh, wash out the light with a bandanna or something, use Photoshop to make adjustments. Your references are tools, and you don't want to spend forever just looking for the perfect one, you want to move, manipulate and assess them for the maximum amount of information. the nice thing about taking your own is that it eliminates some of the guess work of having to mush images together, you can work with your camera and your light to figure out whats wrong before you start painting, and that will actually save you tons of frustration.

    Iruka on
  • OllieOllie Registered User regular
    edited September 2014
    Posted something here, decided against it and now I can't delete my post :( decided to post it in the Doodles thread anyway.
    I will post an update on the orb-lady soon! Thanks again for all your feedback, it is enormously helpful. <3

    Ollie on
  • OllieOllie Registered User regular
    edited September 2014
    Did some more work tonight, and redid most of the face. I also moved her ear in a bit closer, as I tend to overdo the distance of the ear from the face sometimes, but let me know if it was better off the way it was before. Everything is very rough-looking right now as I try to shape things out. I think I'll do the throat over again as well and stop trying to pull the muscles out so much. I feel like the fingers on her left hand should be redder (or make the right hand less red) because as is they look really mismatched?

    I zoomed in on the main part of the figure to make it more visible, as I only worked on this area anyway. The rest of the image is unchanged still.


    oh! And I did some more digging on lighting references for this as well, and took a few pictures of my own face in a similar pose. The image still needs work but that helped move it forward a ton.

    Ollie on
  • OllieOllie Registered User regular


    I think I'm ready to wrap this up. Any final suggestions?

    Also, would you guys suggest making a new thread to use as a personal art dump thread or should I just change this one?

  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    I'm glad you worked through the piece. You can use this thread to keep posting your personal work, feel free to change the title.

    I think you should move forward. Maybe do some studies with a focus on portraits?

  • OllieOllie Registered User regular

    newest thing! Some fan art for Legend of Korra, inspired by a song by Fiona Apple. More info here.

    I made this on my Surface Pro 3, starting in Manga Studio 5 then switching to Photoshop CC after some extremely annoying technical problems.

  • OllieOllie Registered User regular
    New thing! Gift for a Secret Santa exchange at work. The girl in the image is a big fan of Dr. Who so I figured this would amuse her.

    Done with Prismacolor markers. Unfortunately my markers are long-neglected and the one I used to color the TARDIS is a little dried out, but I did what I could.

  • OllieOllie Registered User regular

    Something I'm working on now in Manga Studio 5. The 3D materials are super cool. Comes with some great references, and you can import other 3D models of your own to use in it.

    I'm interested in learning how to do watercolor effects and the like digitally. I'd prefer tips for MS5 since I'm working in that currently but Photoshop would be good to know as well. I'm out of the loop as far as actual digital effects go, sadly.

  • OllieOllie Registered User regular
    edited January 2015
    More work on this! It's Aurora from Ubisoft's Child of Light. She's a little girl with a big sword. Had to make myself stop working on this, since I'd really like some feedback on how it's going and what to fix or add.


    I actually would like her body to twist even further than it currently is, but I'm having trouble with her arms and figuring out how to position her hands. Any advice on anatomy/posing would be very welcome!

    I'm also trying to figure out how to do watercolor effects in the program. I started inking it before I remembered that, so I'll likely re-do the little I've already done, but there's still plenty to draw anyway. I tried to follow this tutorial but since I'm only really starting to learn the UI in MS5 I don't think I'm following it correctly.

    Ollie on
  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    Seems like a super adult face, and the proportions aren't quite working out. For a difficult pose like this you may want to find a reference to stick a bit more closely to, or do a few more quicker sketches until you feel like you have the pose down.

  • OllieOllie Registered User regular
    edited March 2015
    removed b/c it involves client work I'm not entitrely sure I should be posting, but may repost later!

    Ollie on
  • OllieOllie Registered User regular
    edited March 2015
    Phew. Long time no post. I'm going to share something a little different.

    I dunno if I mentioned this before, but I was extremely uninspired to do anything really creative that wasn't strictly a school assignment or project. My personal work dried up to nothing sometime in early college, and I just had no desire to do anything about it. I won't speculate right now as to why that changed for me. A part of me always missed that urge to make something, but I didn't know how to make it come back. I stopped posting in communities like this one, eventually abandoned DeviantArt, and all my art supplies gathered dust. I graduated art school and got jobs that had nothing to do with my degree whatsoever.

    I did, however, always enjoy the works of others, and following other artists and seeing them grow started to rub off on me again. I took the time since graduating to look into what kinds of careers I could pursue, and wound up going after web development, since all the jobs I wanted to apply for on Craigslist required some front-end dev experience (and it paid off - already have a design/web dev job, and freelance work). I continued to read inspirational articles on how to make yourself be an artist and improve, and even purchases a Surface Pro 3 so I could have a to-go tablet for quick color studies. After watching this video where Noah Bradley described how he got started as an illustrator, I made myself start with digital painting studies.

    The first one I did was this (source under the cut):

    It was good color practice, but it felt incredibly dull. I remembered some comment I read here where someone recommended using more opaque colors. I struggled at first with the same issue in my next study, but by the end, it started to come together somewhat better:

    i didn't stick with it for very long, this image being the last thing I can find (no source, sorry):

    I didn't really stick with it much longer than that, and was indecisive on what I wanted to do next. Last autumn, I gave it another try, starting with the moon lady up top. I've been more productive since, though still not as productive as I feel I should be.

    To fix that, I am attempting to do the 21 day challenge, but due to all my other obligations atm I am massively behind. Oh well, still keeping at it, and I'm gonna do all 21 studies no matter what!

    The times on most of these are estimes, but most are between 1 hour and 1.5 hours. All images are the same size canvas as their reference, though one of them has a larger image cited as a source.

    Day 1- 1 hour

    Day 2 - 30 minutes (was at work, had to cut it short)

    Day 3 - 1 hour...ish. Maybe more.
    Source: Bridgeman's figure drawing book

    Day 4 - 1 hour, while watching The Walking Dead :P

    Day 5 - 1 hour

    Day 6 - 1 hour or so
    For this one, I actually found the cropped photo reposted to someone else's Tumblr, but I dug up the original photograph.

    Day 7 - 2 hours

    Day 8 - about 3 hours

    Day 8 was done yesterday, but since I had to finish a client vector art job that's due this morning and it's currently 2 AM, I'll be doing Day 9 tomorrow.

    As you can probably tell, I've tried to stick with full opacity brushesI need to figure out methods of digitally painting in Photoshop that are more adventurous than using the hard-edged round brush at 100% opacity, because it's not really good for blending. I'd like my next portrait to look less like a mixture between what I'm studying and Scarface from Batman.

    Anyway, any advice and feedback on the above work or what I should do next is totally welcome. Thanks for looking. :)

    Ollie on
  • m3nacem3nace Registered User regular
    edited March 2015
    If you want better blending don't use size variation, just go for a large brush with transfer (opacity controlled by pen pressure). Pretty sure you did this with day 5, no idea why you didn't stick with it. It seems pretty antithetical to stick with full opacity brushes when you want a more smooth painting. Maybe it's because you felt things were getting muddy when you didn't have size variation on? Because it's essentially supposed to feel muddy in the beginning, since you'll go in and clean it up afterwards once you've got all the colors down. Say, you could go in and make selections with the lasso tool, or just go in with a smaller brush to tighten up the edges.
    Either way, if you don't want a muddy feel to it, use large brushes. By using smaller brushes (like I can see you've done further up in this thread) you get a lot of texture.

    m3nace on
  • OllieOllie Registered User regular
    I think with Day 5 I wasn't sure how to approach it because architectural art is so technical and the cathedral so detailed that part of me kind of went "F it" and just did whatever.

    For the rest of them, it was more of an attempt to push away from relying on it too much on soft, semi-transparent brush strokes by avoiding them altogether (like in the very first image in the big post, which I wasn't satisfied with and had to figure out a different method) and to practice with getting more precise colors on their own. I also don't draw/sketch the image before going into painting mode and just block things in - that's both from how I was taught to paint and also some obligation to challenge myself to do something different that I'm not as good at, or else it feels like cheating...? Idk!

    I'll definitely go for a better middle ground in my next study, though.

  • kevindeekevindee Registered User regular

    Make a new brush - 40 px hard round, enable only opacity and set it to pressure. Leave flow unaffected, leave size jitter alone as well. Set spacing from anywhere between 5-25 per cent, and you have a brush that you should be able to control about as well as brushes can be in photoshop.

    Don't hamstring yourself by using no opacity, and don't worry about relying on transparency to achieve a painting. For christ sake, even paint is transparent in ways. You'll know you've gone too far when you're only using a soft round and your painting looks like fog. Also...people here will point it out.

    I've attached a sketch from someone better than me done with just a basic round, if you like that, try setting up a brush like that for your basic stuff.

  • OllieOllie Registered User regular
    That's super smooth. I see a looseness to that I really envy. Perhaps doing a few studies in greyscale would help me focus? Maybe a step back would help.

    Anyway, here's tonight's study. From John Singer Sargent, portrait of Henry James. Hard to estimate length of time since I worked on it off and on between watching House of Cards, The Walking Dead, and (right now!) Better Call Saul, but I'd say no more than 2 hours. I didn't create a new brush like @kevindee suggested, but I did ease up on how I painted it. I'll be sure to try that new brush in the next one.

    Day 9, pictured next to its reference image.

    You know what I've noticed? There's a point where even if you pick a color just slightly off from what you're currently using (if it's dark or light enough in value, at least), it either won't change at all or seem like a huge difference. I know my monitor could be one cause (did this painting and wrote this post on my Surface) but I'm sure I've seen it elsewhere. Ah, the limits of digital...

  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    Ech, I thought I commented on this when you posted it @Ollie but this last study was a lot better and more in line with how you should be trying to build up these paintings. The next step would be to try to keep the contours of your shapes specific, and accurate.

    Have you slowed down on the studies? Are you still working at them?

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    I don't think that is just an artifact of the Surface but more so with digital painting with darker colors in general. Slight steps can seem really drastic.

  • NightDragonNightDragon 6th Grade Username Registered User regular
    edited April 2015
    You seem to be using a lot of white in your highlights, which can make things look a bit washed out. It's totally okay to use the color-picker tool now and then (and to see where the color actually IS in the color-picking tool) to help you gain a better understanding of how much color variance is in your references. It can be pretty surprising! It's actually how I learned that a dark yellow can look very, very green in the right circumstances.

    The last study, for example, is definitely one of your best, but there are a lot of warmer tones in the face that you have missed out on a bit.

    NightDragon on
  • OllieOllie Registered User regular
    Thanks for the comments, all.

    Sorry for the lack of posts recently. I ran into some technical issues with my tablet, which is where I do a lot of my studies - it's super handy for on-the-go work, and I have been very much on-the-go the last few months. Unfortunately between school, work, and freelance jobs, I haven't been really focused on the 21 days things.

    I will finish it, as I promised myself I will do, though it'll be more like 21 studies instead of 21 days. :P I actually have a few I could post, though they weren't really finished. I'm on my desktop PC right now, so I'll share that artwork in a second comment in a bit. In the meantime, what do you guys think I should do for my next study? Sometimes I have trouble deciding.

    @NightDragon : The best oil painting I've ever done was actually one where we were not allowed to use white, merely mix colors out of a yellow, dark blue, and red. It was actually not that difficult to make the colors close to reality, though I had to change some things up to match highlights and reflections from a yellow-white light.

  • OllieOllie Registered User regular
    Still need to update this with the other stuff, but in the meantime:


    30-minute study from late Saturday evening. My best friend and I spent the night on the Washington coast in the Quileute Nation and I did this little thing on my SP3 before we went to see what we could see on the beach behind our motel unit's porch. (On that note, I HIGHLY recommend the Quileute Oceanside Resort for a weekend getaway. Even their summer prices aren't too bad, though we got one of the last days of winter prices.)

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