TUTORIAL - At the Foot of the Tree (Step-By-Step) - by Botched


05: Initial Darks
Here I’ve started to build up the dark areas of the image, working in photoshop with a hard round brush at about %50 opacity.

06: Initial Lights
Here I’ve begun working in some of the highlights. Again, working with a hard round brush at %50 opacity.

07: Secondary Texturing
Once I felt comfortable with the basic values, I started applying various textures… Stipling, grunge,folds, and tears… anything that was going to break up the surface of the piece.

(Note: each numbered step from here on out reflects a separate photoshop file that was flattened and incremented for each step.)

08: Color Overlay

Once I had enough textures going on, I jumped into color-land. Working on a new layer set to “color” I very quickly laid out a gold-green gradient as the basic color tones.

Ah… now to the actual painting.
For the most part, I stuck to the general system of:

a) Color block-in on a layer set to “color”.
b) dark build-ups on a separate layer set to “multiply”
c) dark mids, mid tones, high mids, and highlights were built up on their own layers respectively. (I mean if I was paying attention… often times they just got jumbled up on the same layers)

I “mixed” my pallet as I went along, saving it in a separate file so I wouldn’t lose it.

09: Rocks and Foliage.

Working from the background to the foreground, I began detailing and rendering the image. I used mostly hard round brushes at various sizes, usually at %50 opacity or less.

10: Groundcover
Working on the ground and grass I switched to more textural brushes… creating them as I went along.


11: The Tree
I continued rendering the outlying elements (putting off getting to the figure as long as possible, I guess!)

12: Foreground Rocks and Hair
I finished off the foreground rock elements, trading off between hard round brushes and textured charcoal-like brushes to bring out the surface texture of the ground.

13: Skin Tones
After putting it off as long as I could, I jumped in on the skin tones. It took a fair amount of trial and error before I arrived a workable colors (may still be debatable!). As I did not want to lose completely the strokes alluded to in my pencil drawing, I periodically brought that back in at varying opacities in specific areas… mostly to reinforce the darks and lo-mids.

14: Foliage touch-up
Oops. Just a little touch-up in the foreground.

15: Global Levels and Color Adjustment
I felt the image needed just a little sweetening, so I applied some global levels and adjustments…


16: Figure Refinement.
I really felt the figure needed more work, so I went back in and cleaned it up, refining the darks, lights, and textures.


[b]17: Last-minute Head-fix.[/b]

I posted the image in a WIP thread on CG Talk to hopefully get some constructive criticism… one piece of which was that there was something weird going on with the back of the head. Which I sort of corrected.

Also, in this step, I overlayed the final texturing. One layer of brush-like textures (again, something I created previously - basically gesso on illustration board) that was set to “overlay”. Another layer of “crackle” textures (may be hard to see at this size… I’ll see if I can post some details) was also set to “overlay”. I then went back in and painted some more crackle textures in specific areas with a special “crackle” brush I created for photoshop.


[b]18: Final Adjustments.[/b]

Will it never end? Here I just applied some last minute adjustments in levels and contrast… hopefully not wrecking it too much!


Okay… Final thoughts. Again, I undertook this image primarily as a learning experience. Check. Learned a ton. I’m mostly happy with how this turned out… though I’m not quite sure the sum total is quite where I’d like my image-making to be. But that’s part of the process, eh?


And here are a couple of detail shots at various magnifications:


Beautiful work! Thank you for this extensive tutorial, it is definitely appreciated. Thanks for sharing! :slight_smile: This is pretty much proof that ‘drawing is painting’. :wink:

I’ve added your Tutorial to the Notification thread here.



wow Botched amazing tutorial and very very helpful :slight_smile: Thanks!


nice tutorial! :thumbsup: thanks a lot for sharing!


What a wonderful tutorial! Thank you so very much.
I especially liked the colour pallette and your use of a gradient, that was really interesting.


i got one very noob question but i think its in someway imp for me.what is your usual workspace setup i mean what was the size of image an at how much dpi.since as much as i try i don get the detail magnified shot like u ppl can give


Gorgeous painting! Thanks very much for the step by step walkthrough. I always find it very interesting and helpful to see how others work. Thanks for sharing :slight_smile:


Rebeccak: Thanks! I hear you on the “Drawing is Painting”! I’ve never really considered myself much of a painter, which is why I’ve been undertaking these experiments…

Ravmaster: Thanks!

engelik: You’re welcome!

Nekomouse: Thanks. I struggled with the pallet quite a bit… but I think I got pretty close to what I was after in the end.

killermachine: Good Question. My image here is 7764px by 8358px. Nothing magical about those numbers… I just wanted to work on a larger scale than usual. For Digital work, you need to make sure has enough resolution to hold up at whatever size you would like your image to be. I usually try to work at a minimum of 300dpi, so and image that would “print” at 8.5 inches by 11 inches would need to be at least2460px by 3300px.

Amerasu: Thanks! Likewise, I’m fascinated with seeing work-in-progress and step-by-step sequences.


Hehe, I’ve been experimenting a lot too lately with traditional + digital, with mixed but interesting results…it’s great to see how refined a piece you are getting by focusing so much on finessing the drawing first - I’m far more messy in my approach, and get too impatient to just sort of throw things around digitally - it’s cool to see how someone with a much more organized mindset approaches a piece. :slight_smile:


Thanks Rebecca… Organized??? Ha Ha! Maybe to a fault. I sometimes think my process can be a little too rigid. I guess I’m coming in on the train of thought that I’m more comfortable making as many decisions as I can in the drawing stage. But sometimes that can squeeze the life out of a piece. It may also be my “safety net”, perhaps… (If I can just get the drawing to look right, maybe the painting will fall into place!)

By the way, the lastest issue of American Artist Drawing Magazine has a great article on the pencil drawings of Ingres… with some great quotations:

“Line drawing. It is everything.”


“Draw for a long time before thinking of painting. When one builds on a solid foundation, one sleeps in peace.”



Ooh, thanks a lot for the heads up on the magazine! I think they’ve been doing a lot of great stuff recently, I’m subscribed to their newsletter. The magazine used to be kind of boring but lately I think they’ve really focused on interesting issues. So thanks! :slight_smile:


That BIG!? :eek: You know, I think my computer would have an absolute hissy fit if I tried to work that large! How big does that print at 300 DPI?


Thanks very much for the effort put in, nice tutorial.

I was wondering if you started with thumbnail sketchs, and found the ref / shot the photo, or if the ref inspired the shoot and lead into the drawing without a thumbnail stage?


Nekomouse: Yeah, it was kind of large. With incrementing all the photoshop files and everything I think I ended up with over 6 or 7 GB of wip files! Anyway… at 300 dpi, the image would “print” roughly 25x28 inches. Maybe a little excessive. It wasn’t too hard on my computer (I’m using a G4 laptop 1ghz with 1GB RAM). The only slow parts were opening and saving - those things took forever. Thanks.

kary: Good question. In this case, I shot the reference photos a few months before the drawing and painting. So yeah… no thumbnail sketch for this one was needed. Thanks!


Amazing. Thanks so much for the detailed walkthrough. What I love is how you started with traditional elements (the graphite drawing, both before and after the scanning, and the texture of the treated canvas) was mixed in with the digital but isn’t overwhelmed.


Asatira: Thanks. That’s the trick, eh? Trying not to overwhelm the piece with the medium.

Also… I found a link to that Ingres article online:


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