This was written in response to a two part question—unlike the other posts I've written, this is less a collection of thoughts as it is a little insight into one of the many different ways I have of working. I recorded a timelapse of myself painting this portrait, and then broke down the different steps I took to create it. The second part (how I think about colours) has not yet been written. I recommend also reading my thoughts on creating lineless art.
1. after i figure out a sketch im happy with, I usually open up this lighting reference tool and figure out what kind of lighting i want
2. then using my ink brush (which lays down solid colours) I lay out some flats
3. Then I duplicate my flats, and using a curves adjustment layer which I clip to my duplicated flats, I create the light I want
The curves tool is a little hard to explain but like increasing red will make a colour more red while decreasing red will make it more cyan, because cyan is the inverse of red. Then the other two are green and magenta, and blue and yellow. The RGB one will brighten or darken everything, also!
If you play around with it you should start to get a feel for it, I think of colours in relation to how rgb/cmy they are so its just intuitive for me to do lighting this way 😅
4. Anyway I do the same thing again for the secondary light, and then using layer masks I paint in the lighting
I started doing lighting this way because while making comics, it was a lot quicker for me to just make an auto action for “warm yellow light” and “cool blue light” and apply those to a panel and then paint in the light than it was for me to keep picking colours..!
I duplicate the flats when I do this just in case I want to adjust one individual colour, without influencing the shadows.
5. Then I make a new regular degular layer and start painting on top, I initially use my ink brush to do things like her eyes n lips but then I switch to my thick paint brush and enable randomize colour to add a little colour variation to my brush strokes n just go absolutely ham god bless
6. at the very end there i add a little bit of bloom with an overlay layer and an airbrush
7. Not shown in the timelapse, but I later went in and reworked the mantle to actually define the feathers.
Anyway, I hope that was insightful!