A Step-by-Step Progression
1 - Zeldriia Sketch
This is the concept sketch I sent to the client based on his description of the character.
2 - Zeldriia Sketch 2
The client got back to me with a few changes to the initial sketch, so this is the sketch incorporating the changes he asked for.
3 - Zeldriia Preliminary Production Drawing
After getting approval on the revised sketch, I called in a model to get some reference photos for the painting. I used the reference shots to produce this preliminary production drawing.
4 - Zeldriia Production Drawing
After letting the client take a look at the preliminary production drawing and getting his okay, I proceeded to do a more finished production drawing. I could have skipped this step, but enjoy doing the more finished drawings, and like to have a nice, tonal drawing done before I start to paint.
5 - Zeldriia Transfer
I have the drawing enlarged to the size it will be in the painting at Kinko's. The drawing of the main figure is then transferred onto a sheet of extra-heavy weight illustration board utilizing graphite transfer paper. I've applied several coats of gesso to both sides of the board. Gesso is applied to the back of the board to prevent warping. I sand in between coats of gesso.
6 - Zeldriia Underpainting 1
I start to underpaint the main figure with washes of acrylic burnt umber.
7 - Zeldriia Underpainting 2
More of the main figure is underpainted.
8 - Zeldriia Underpainting 3
The underpainting of the main figure is finished. The underpainting is a foundation for what is to come and is used to establish the tonality of the object underpainted. Much of the underpainting will be lost later on in the painting process.
9 - Zeldriia Background Color
Since the background is to be a forest setting, I paint in a solid, mid-tone green as a background color. This is also done in acrylics for fast drying. The background color is just to work over and help make the main figure pop.
10 - Zeldriia Background Drawing Transfer
I then transfer down the drawing of the background over the green background color.
11 - Zeldriia Log Underpainting
I don't underpaint everything in the background, but felt it necessary, in this case, to underpaint the log. This underpainting helps establish some texture in the log and some of the underpainting and background color will show through in the final painting.
12 - Zeldriia Background 1
I start painting the background in oils. I lay in a mixture of thalo green, burnt umber and a little white as the darkest color in the background.
13 - Zeldriia Background 2
When painting a background I usually work from the objects farther away and move toward the foreground. Here I paint bushes and foliage. So far I'm keeping my palette limited to thalo green, burnt umber and white.
14 - Zeldriia Background 3
For the rocks I use a mixture of black and burnt umber and white, with some thalo green in the reflections of the shadows.
15 - Zeldriia Background 5
I paint in the trees starting with the trees farther away and moving forward to the trees closer to the viewer. The colors used for the trees are still burnt umber, thalo green and white, though heavier on the burnt umber and lighter on the green. The closer trees get more umber and less green, and a little more contrast to facilitate the illusion of depth.
16 - Zeldriia Log
I consider the log as being the mid-ground of the painting. The wooden part of the log is just burnt umber and white, with a little burnt sienna thrown in here and there. The moss is thalo green, burnt umber and white with some cadmium yellow medium thrown in to warm it up and bring it closer to the viewer. The mushrooms are brunt umber and white, with thalo green for the reflected light in the shadows. All of the shadow areas in the painting will have the thalo green for the reflected light.
17 - Zeldriia Foreground
I paint in the leaves and rocks in the foreground. The leaves are a mixture of thalo green, burnt umber, raw sienna and white. The rocks are just black and white. The twigs are burnt umber and white, though I added some burnt sienna to the twigs on the right side of the painting to pull in some of the hair color to come and also use a little burnt sienna in the limbs of the foreground to separate them from the trees in the background. I use black for some of the dark areas in the foreground, since it is the closest to the viewer. This also helps with the illusion of depth in the painting.
18 - Zeldriia Hair - Magic
I start finishing up the main figure by working on the hair. The copper hair color is a mixture of burnt sienna, cadmium orange and white, with burnt umber and black as the darkest color. I worked in a little permanent bright green and cadmium yellow for the green streak in the hair. For the magic I used permanent bright green and white. I wanted to keep the white of the magic as the brightest part of the painting. I painted in a glow around the gemstone in the crescent of the staff.
19 - Zeldriia Tattoo
I paint in the tattoo using thalo blue and white. I make it a little darker than I want it to appear in the final painting, because I'm going to be painting the skin tones over it and I want it to show through.
20 - Zeldriia Skin Tones 1
I start painting in the skin tones using a mixure of burnt umber and white (the same color combo used in painting the wood of the log!) I wanted the skin tones to be pale and this combination gives a nice neutral tone. I work in other colors as I paint, green, burnt sienna. I leave some of the burnt umber underpainting showing through in spots. I use a mixture of cadmium red light and white to make the rose color for the lips and nipples and thalo green and white for her green eyes.
21 - Zeldriia Skin Tones 2
I finish the lower half of the skin tones.
22 - Zeldriia Loincloth
I paint the cloth of the loincloth and top using a mixture of raw umber and white. Much like the skin tone color mixture, this combination of colors gives a nice neutral tone, but is subtly different from the skin tone colors, which is what I was after. Again I use a little thalo green for the reflected light. This was probably the hardest part of the painting for me, getting the transparency of the cloth to work. I also painted in the leaves in her hair. I used permanent bright green, cadmium yellow medium, burnt umber and white.
23 - Zeldriia Jewelry, Jewels, Staff, etc.
For the gold of the jewelry and staff crescent I used a mixture of raw sienna, cadmium yellow medium and white, with brunt umber for the darks. I used permanent bright green and white for the jewel in the crescent of the staff. I wanted to bring more blue into the main figure so used thalo blue and white for the other jewels. Raw umber and white were used for the beads on her left wrist and also for the strands of flowing fabric on her leg, staff and arm.
24 - 'Zeldriia's Magic' Finished Painting
At this point the painting was covered, but I went back in and made subtle adjustments, tweaks and changes that resulted in the final version of the painting. These adjustments probably aren't too evident in the photographs, but I spent several days on them.