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That Red Head a Step by Step

Discussion in 'Step by Step' started by airbrushtutor, Jun 13, 2013.


  1. airbrushtutor

    airbrushtutor Love Spreading Overseer Admin

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    Hello everyone reading!
    Thought i'd make a bit of effort to give something decent back to the forum that gives so much to everyone else involved. Some of you may have seen the Red Head lady I completed just under a week ago now - well i took step by step progress pictures specifically to give some little insights as to the process i used to render the artwork :triumphant:
    Here it goes you cheeky galahs!
    redhead.jpg

    1. The first step after finding the image that inspired you to 12 hours of work, is to come up with a line drawing or guide so that you can transfer it to your canvas. Now while there are several ways of doing this such as printing a copy of the reference at the exact size and cutting it out i find this takes quite a bit of time - it's certainly not any less accurate but i guess i'm just accustomed to the way of the projector.
    The first thing i do is a line drawing in a vector program. I use Illustrator CS6. The strongest reason i do a line drawing beforehand is because it allows me to identify where the shapes are in the drawing and how i can go about airbrushing the edges of them. My lines are somewhat indicative as to how i'll create them, generally a broken line means a softer edge and a harder line means a harder/ darker edge. It also allows me to share the file to others!
    redhead1.jpg

    2. Next step is to mix up your colours. It's up to you if you mix them all to begin with or as you go, I prefer to mix all at once because it's like jumping over a big hurdle. The disadvantage to doing that is that the longer the colors stay stangant, the more white pigment that sits at the bottom of the color cup. This can change the color.
    Other than that all materials and tools are there and i'm set and ready to go!
    redhead2.jpg

    3. After getting the line drawing onto my board (by the way i'm using SchoellersHammer), i begin my masking the background with frisket. i'm going to be applying the green background first and i will keep certain parts masked up for nearly the entire duration of the artwork.
    Using frisket isn't something you have to do, you could do it all with the airbrush alone by taking care & going in close, but the use of frisket eliminates the risk overspray. It also eliminates the benefits of organic edges.. so it's up to you? To frisket or not to frisket!
    readhead3.jpg

    4. After i've sprayed the background and back-masked the appropriate areas, I decide that the teeth are extremely white and so i'm going mask them also using frisket until i'm ready to complete the mouth. The teeth will later prove to be the hardest part of the artwork due to my poor choice of colors.
    redhead4.jpg

    5. The first color layer is applied. It is a near identical match to the base skin tone on her forehead, which is the lightest skin-tone on the image. The reason I chose one of the lightest skin tones is because i know i can always darker other parts of it using translucence + i will be using mid-tone and shadow-tones, so by the end of the image it will have different color influences anyway.
    Once this layer is applied, it's time to work some eraser magic as textures and realism are added with the use of erasers and scalpels.
    This was my first time using ShoellersHammer board and coupled with Createx Illustration Colors I don't think the pair get along very well. Some may blame the colors for not being erasable enough, however i blame the board for being too absorbant. I didn't like working with this pair but I think once you've committed to an artwork that you should finish it, because generally you get a good result. Except when it's a paint pal card.
    redhead5.jpg
    Last edited by a moderator: May 29, 2014
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  2. airbrushtutor

    airbrushtutor Love Spreading Overseer Admin

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    6.
    Here is a close up of the developing textures of the eye. The first layer is one of the most critical layers for texture and realism as is the foundation that everything else is worked off. If you get a build up of too much paint by the last layer then erasing can be quite difficult depending on your substrate and adding white paint may be your only option (with the risk of blue-shift). Here is a close up of some of the textures in the eye and nose.
    redhead7.jpg

    7.
    The second color layer is added. As all colors were mixed beforehand all i had to do was give my little color cup a shake, stir up the white pigment and it was ready to go. there's quite a large contrast between the base layer and the mid-tone of this mid-late 20's female specimen.
    redhead8.jpg

    8.
    This photo demonstrates just how losely i'm applying the second color layer within certain parts. Here i know i'll be using an eraser or blade to create detail so i don't bother trying to get things perfect yet. I definitely improve with this the more i practise, learning where you do and don't need to add detail and in which layers.. you can waste ALOT of time adding detail.
    readhead9.jpg

    9.
    Just wanted to show you that i wasn't too proud to not use frisket. This is quite a crucial edge in the artwork as it's the most foreground, so it's value should be quite accurate and it sets the perspective of the picture. I'm using a cool little technique here that alot of you may already know, but for those of you who don't - take a look at how i backmasked this in image 10.
    redhead10.jpg

    10.
    There's a particular name for this type of back masking, i learnt it many years ago from an airbrush artist in Sydney, however during my time working in panel shops we'd use it alot for 'quick' mask jobs. I can't recall the exact name of the technique, however if you click on the picture the arrow shows what i'm trying to demonstrate. You don't just stick the mask down onto the artwork, instead you mask it in such a way, that the mask will deflect the overspray from your artwork. This doesn't mean you can spray close to the edge of don't have to pay attention, but it does give you a little more control and means that you don't have to back-mask large areas. Also if you do get overspray, more of it will be able to be removed with erasers as it potentially won't be direct overspray - but you don't want to get to the stage where you have to fix it any way!!
    redhead6.jpg
    Last edited by a moderator: May 29, 2014
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  3. airbrushtutor

    airbrushtutor Love Spreading Overseer Admin

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    11.
    Hair time! To create the hair i mixed up three colours. I found what i thought to be the base tone - which you can see just above the ear and to the left - i haven't sprayed this in the same was as a skin tone however, i've only laid down the color where it's required. So the lighter colour goes where the lighter color is and the darker color goes where the darker color is.
    You need to make sure the you establish all of the darker areas and are aware of the darker shapes that exist in her hair. If you get these right on this step then there'll be no need to revisit them - allows you to create realism in a matter of 2/3 layers.
    redhead11.jpg

    12.
    Texture time. This is where you find out how well your paints and medium get along. I didn't like using the createx with Schoellershammer as the board just seemed too absorbent, you need to be quite rough with your erasing and I had to be careful not to tear up the board too much.
    To create these textures i used a typical hobby blade - number 10 or 11 i think they are? just a flat blade, no surgical scalpel or anything.. used an electric eraser for some parts also which did get along very well with the Schoellershammer.
    redhead12.jpg

    13.
    The darker tones are added. Again i haven't place a huge amount of care with the accuracy of how i put this down, i just made sure the shapes looked correct and have used my textures to sharpen the look of it. This is the best way I've found to create detail as it allows you to create excellent detail in a matter of a couple of layers. Very quick.
    redhead13.jpg

    14.
    I began doing the eye completely freehand as i was trying to mirror my reference picture, however i found that adding frisket, masking up the darker parts of the eye and using the old mask and spray method worked a bit better. In the next step you'll notice how i softened the top edge by creating textures across it.
    One of the sticking points re-incforced to me while doing this artwork was to make sure you have a great quality reference. I find that I can produce a result 85 - 90% similar to the reference, so if your reference isn't above and beyond the detail you're looking to add, then your end result won't be photorealistic. As I found out:(
    redhead14.jpg

    15.
    The top part of the eye here was laid down with a bit of the ole mask and spray. You may notice some brighter colors appearing in the eye where you need to use straight transparent to heavily increase the saturation. This occurs heavily with the eyes and is fairly consistent across every portrait. Even though i couldn't see hard edges on the reference i did create harder edges than what i saw and the result came out just as good as the reference - re-inforcing the old adage 'use a great reference'.
    First time I've ever used 'adage' in a sentence, not sure if i used it correctly.
    redhead15.jpg

    16.
    The bloody eyebrow. This took about 10 minutes. I used the mid tone of the hair for the eyebrow, the color was slightly in accurate, but who's checking? I laid down the shape of the eyebrow and then grabbed and eraser and createx all the detail with that. There's not much detail in the eyebrow at all and i just created what i saw. It looks like it could have been a little sharper but that's what i saw okay? don't hold it against me.
    After i'd created the detail using an eraser i went back in and added some of the darker detail with the airbrush and the same colour. There's just a few basic lines here and there. When you are up close it looks nothing like hair, but when you step back an eyebrow appears.
    redhead16.jpg
    Last edited by a moderator: May 29, 2014
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  4. airbrushtutor

    airbrushtutor Love Spreading Overseer Admin

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    Step whatever.
    I took this photo to demonstrate yet more use of frisket, very important around the teether and mouth area. What you're seeing here is the result of a mistake, i quickly dusted a colour over the teeth - a straight black or something like that just to put a bit of pigment on, but the color came out too green and too dark. Great so i ruined the whole picture. Started to erase the paint off but what do you know? the SchoellersHammer didn't want to let go of it's pigment buddies. So i got black marks on the teeth. At this stage she was looking like a meth addict.
    So i stepped back, punched a hole in the wall with my head, collected myself and i was back. I matched the colour, i just went back to the drawing board and began with white - it was incredibly difficult to match! like a light blue.
    I cut out the frisket mask of the teeth and covered them in straight white - then i put the new color on top. After moving the frisket and backmasking the teeth, this is the photo i took.
    redhead18.jpg

    Step awesome.
    grabbed the lip color and put it down where it needed to go, created some textures as a base, then went over with the darker lip color - so these lips have only 2 colors in them. actually i lie there's a sepia aswell which you can see in the dark corner of her mouth - so that's really not rocket science, just put the colors where they belong and build up your textures where required. If you create too many textures, simply spray the original color over the top.
    And that was it - after the teeth incident i thought i'll stop here.
    redhead19.jpg

    Step what did we learn.
    No i look at the picture and i was attempting photorealism, probably with a bit too much confidence. The reference picture could have been better, however i didn't realise it at the time, that's a fantastic excuse but i couldn't see why i hadn't got the result i was after. I've since checked out the image and where I've messed up is that I haven't painted it close enough to the reference, take a close look at her nose, the lines are too perfect - the reference sort of showed that but i created it that way. When i zoomed in on the computer i found in fact there was no line there, only white texture which when you step back resembles a line.
    So this is something I've taken away from this portrait, while the colours where spot on, i did my best, didn't quite get there, but learnt some lessons to get me where I'd like to be. That's the most valuable part to me and it let's me know I've still got room to grow and can still move forward.

    Step 1. Mixing colors:
    Check this out for organization - just wanted to keep the colors and show you the amount of test sprays to match them.
    Mixing all the colors took around 3 hrs i believe, i just sat there and did one after the other and there were 7 or 8 colors? + sepia and black.
    redhead17.jpg

    Hope you guys and girls took something away from this - if you have any questions please ask away otherwise awards to the best jacker.

    Jag wins.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2014
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  5. basepaint

    basepaint Air-Valve Autobot! Very Likeable!

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    GREAT Step by Step is this one downloadable from you ? As I would like to try this one a lot !!!(must like redheads)thanks mitch
  6. WhiteKnight

    WhiteKnight Code Dragon Slayer Admin

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    Awesome addition to our step by step section big thanks Mitch, Love Spreading Overseer :)
  7. MeeshellMP

    MeeshellMP Goddess Queen of carts Mod

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    Awesome job as always you love spreader you!! :love:
  8. Oddball

    Oddball Detail Decepticon!

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    Thats an awesome job and I would be jumping around with satisfaction if I could pull that off, but, your very blazae about you use of frisket! Did you cut it on the work or over a full size reference?
  9. airbrushtutor

    airbrushtutor Love Spreading Overseer Admin

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    No problems! This has been on here for just over 12 months lol:laugh:

    @basepaint No, there's no step by step for this one on the airbrushtutor site.. this is actually an old step by step - I wasn't making them back then:depressed:
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2014
  10. AndreZA

    AndreZA Elite Member! Elite Member! Artist of the Month! Very Likeable!

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    Very cool job Mitch. If you are every in a paper shop again, see if you can get some Polyart "paper". I'm putting it in quotes because it's synthetic. It's very plasticky but with a very fine tooth for the paint to grab on. Paint sits ontop and does not get absorbed. But once paint has cured you can not manipulate it.
    airbrushtutor likes this.
  11. Patrick Van Laere

    Patrick Van Laere Gravity Guru

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    Big thanks Mitch, Love Spreading Overseer
    I had the same problems the SchoellerHammer and the Createx Illustration Colors are not erasable enough!
    now I gonna try synthetic paper for my new work
    love this site and your work ;-))

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