Half Her Heart's Duet, Cynthia Sheppard (2D)


Title: Half Her Heart’s Duet
Name: Cynthia Sheppard
Country: USA
Software: Photoshop

Half Her Heart’s Duet © 2009 Cynthia Sheppard

Digital painting - Photoshop, Wacom Cintiq.

There’s so much I could say about this piece. I feel like it has a rich story, but I want to see more of what’s beyond that fence. I tend to think of my non-client-driven work as vignettes based on a certain mood more than illustrative representations of an event, but I think this one is both.

My husband is responsible for some of the symbolism - he saw what I was working on at the start when it was just a lass and an amorphous instrument, and would send me excited emails as it developed detailing the life and times of our red-haired protagonist - “…she’s an only child, no older brother to take over the farm when her dad dies, or to keep the family name. She’s been trying to adapt for so long, and in this moment she’s wandered off to have a moment to herself, in her nice dress instead of her daily farm clothes.”

Technically I think this one is worth a look. I took much longer to consider certain elements than I normally do, and switched up references a couple times. For example, I had a photo reference of a friend I was using for the dress and body posture, but the hands looked stiff, and a lot like mittens, so I had to change that and referenced my hands instead. I’m really trying to get better about making conscious decisions instead of taking something that doesn’t work and beating it to death. It’s especially easy to let a reference photo make bad decisions for you if you’re not mindful.

I’m also getting better at combining referenced areas with imagined stuff, which is so important for consistency. The head/neck were both from imagination, but the hair was behaving the same way as the hands, stiff stiff stiff, so I reworked it until it looked right, (which in total was about 12 times.)

I will stop talking now, but feel free to ask if you have questions! Enjoy


Very nice collors and overall feeling, I like it :slight_smile:


I think it’s a great piece! I usually don’t like this kind of pictures but I find this one exceptional… What really stands out is her face- not a typical beauty that you can see in 99% of paintings representing women figures. And I love her mysterious expression. Colors are great, so is your painterly style… 5* :slight_smile:



What a marvelous piece. It is truly a feast for the eyes. The color is stunning and the depth is incredible. I am particularly drawn to your rendering of her dress. The strokes really come together on this element. Great job on her hands. They are very elegant. I also enjoy the burning bits of paper. The glowing edge of the piece in the lower foreground really makes it pop off the page. In all, it sounds like you really put a lot of thought and effort into this painting and I think it shows. Great job!

I tend to mull over my pieces a lot so I empathize with you in slaving over the various details. Keep up the great work! 5 stars!



Awesome image!
Her dress and the b urning papers are really impressive…


I like to tell people I “beat my pieces to death” with detail. Sometimes it can hurt the image but sometimes we get lucky and it just works.

Thanks for the comments! :slight_smile:


Geez, triple-A stuff! The clothes could compete with any classic artist, in fact they have the same classic scent. As Lordbiernac, I’m not very fond on this kind of themes, but this piece is top-notch, front cover stuff. If at all, the only thing I could remotely argue is that the specular light in the very center in the image is a bit too strong and competes with the girl’s face, but seriously, don’t trust me… it’s just awesome! :bowdown:


5 stars for me!
Really amazing work!you are very good artist!


great piece of work! I especially like the yellows and oranges.


This is gorgeous!!! I love it!!



This is a beautiful illustration. The spectrum of colors is very rich and pleasing to the eye. The character is gorgeous and it tells the story without you having to explain it. I really appreciate that aspect of the painting. I would love to know more about the symbolism (the burning note pages) but it is fine if you do leave it to our own interpretation :slight_smile:
Anatomy is good ( hands are spot on, good attitude about spending time on something so important) but I would love to see her eyes a bit larger. You have illustrated her sadness well, perhaps larger eyes woud have more impact. Don’t know, it is just something personal I guess.

Your work is very inspirational. Take care!


Awesome work on the details, especially on the dress, we can feel all the various matters. The character’s expression is very interesting and original. Beautiful work.


amazing…looks like another choice award


Much appreciated!


wow, it’s breathtaking.
I also have a thing for redheads in general too…many of them look so fragile and intelligent
( so medieval, so mysterious )
how many hours it took you to finish this piece from the very beginning?
can you estimate?


It might be personal, but it’s a good comment- Eyes are often what draw us in; If it were a portrait I wouldn’t change it, but since it’s an original character I would consider doing that if I reworked her.

My husband came up with a lot of conjecture about who she might be while I was working, but I always like to leave at least a little open to interpretation. In my mind, she’s been raised on a farm, maybe in a distant world, and never really adapted to farm life. I guess she’s a bit of a Dorothy-meets-Alice style dreamer. I like to think she’s dreaming of being completed - that someday her song will be finished…



Just wow and 5 stars!




well Done!!!


Hello Cynthia,
what is she playing ? an explosive melody of colors !
partitions are about to lose control ! i would like to hear more…
cool work ! [thumbs up]


I love the movement and the light. :slight_smile: The hands are spectacular!

I think the bottom half of her body is kind of small/short. Maybe some more refinement on the fence too?

Excellent painting!