Tutorial - Digital OFDW 012 Bouguereau Master Copy - by Elsie


Hello everyone :slight_smile:

This is my process tutorial in Photoshop based on my master copy of Bouguereau’s “Dante et Virgile aux Enfers” for the twelfth Open Figure Drawing Workshop (which incidentally if you are interested in joining are great fun and a wonderful learning experience). The finished image can be found here.

With this composition there are a lot of different materials covered here, from stone to cloth to skin - this tutorial will not focus on the individual properties of these per se (for one thing that would make a ridiculous amount of information in one humble tutorial), nor did I specifically focus on bringing out the different textures and properties of these on this particular piece.

What I hope to convey here is one of my techniques for digital painting, and my general workflow (without the extra processes one would need when creating an original piece, such as composition and colour theory etc). I hope that you find it helpful in some way, or at least an interesting read ;).

Throughout the entire tutorial I use one of Linda Bergkvist’s spackled brushes, and am ashamed to say I rarely deviate from this one and a small, round hard edged brush for detailing and line art. Use whatever brush you feel comfortable with (I plan to explore custom brushes much more thoroughly soon!) although my specific technique here involves gradually building up the colours through light strokes - therefore using a completely solid, opaque brush is not advisable. I almost always kept brush opacity at 100% - use your tablet to take care of the rest.

For those of you that have Linda’s brushes, this is the one I adore and mentioned above:


Step One:

I prepared a blank canvas with the same proportions as the original piece, set to 300dpi. In order to find a base from which to elaborate on the figures from, I draw basic motion lines following the torso and an arm of each focal character. If it helps you to see them, you could also draw motion lines on top of the original piece first :).

[font=Arial][size=2]Step Two:

I then build up from the motion lines (hidden in this screenshot) with simple geometric shapes to indicate the forms in a less abstract way. This also gives me a chance to more easily change anything that is obviously wrong before I start adding an outline.[/size][/font]


Step Three:

Now start a new layer and work your way around the outlines of the shapes, use a few lines inside to indicate sharper changes in tone (but sparingly). If the outline turns out too messy (we will be painting over the lines rather than erasing) simply create a new layer on top of it and retrace the outline, then delete the messier layer. I usually have to do this.

[font=Arial][size=2]Step Four:

The first three steps were rather standard for any figure drawing using line art as a base, now we get to the fun part ^^. Keep your finger on the colour picker (alt) as to achieve nice variations in the tones (especially when overlaid with each other) you will need lots of nice samples. As this is a copy, we do already have some samples if you wish to use them as starting off points - or be adventurous and pick your own!

Start a new layer under the layer with the outline, and using light, quick brush strokes, feather on the colours in straight or slightly curved lines - once the colour is built up sufficiently, I begin to use circular movements where appropriate, but as of yet follow the general flow of the form (best shown on the ‘victims’ upper thigh). You can also crosshatch in places to achieve stronger colours.

As you can see, we don’t want to immediately cover the figures, I’m leaving plenty of gaps and just shading as of yet where the colours stand out to me the most. [/size][/font]


Step Five:

Now start a new layer above the line art, and begin painting over the lines with the appropriate colours. It always helps me more to paint over the lines rather than erase them because once erased the form of the figure can slightly change depending on how closely to the lines you painted underneath.

When you are satisfied most of the lines have disappeared, flatten both colored layers and the line art layer into one. I have also continued building up the colour on the torso and shoulder of the attacker.

[font=Arial][size=2]Step Six:

A little more work on the arm


Step Seven:

And the torso, leg and victim’s arm

Also blocked out the faces and hair (N.B. I do not paint hair on this particular piece the way I normally would - I’m afraid I rushed it a little as nobody would really see it from as far away as the figures are).

[font=Arial][size=2]Step Eight:

Just more of the same, building up on the faces and other areas



Step Nine:

Although the figures are far from as detailed as I want them to be when I finish the piece, it will give me a much fresher perspective if I come back to them once I have brought the rest of the piece up to the same level. It is also important to incorporate the background reflections subtly into the figures, and is therefore unwise to continue for too long without a background (really it was much too far as it was!).

Here I hit some problems because I was sloppy with the proportions of the figures when I was drawing them - they do not fit with the originals, and when adding the other figures in the background it was necessary to resize the canvas and deliberately draw the rest of the picture slightly askew. Started shading Virgile’s cloak the same way I started the figures, although for fabric do not use the criss crossy, fitting to form way of laying down strokes. I kept the majority of them straight(ish) and flowing down to follow the cut of the fabric.

Step Ten:

Continued building up the cloak and started on Dante


Step Eleven:

Building up the rest of the piece

[font=Arial][size=2]Step Twelve:

I started to rush things a little here, as I just wanted to get the canvas covered. I don’t mean ‘rush’ in a negative way, as instead of working pretty tightly from start to finish (compared with most artists) I simply used much looser, freer strokes to later come back to and refine :).



Step Thirteen:

Some general refinement on the floor

[font=Arial][size=2]Step Fourteen:

I started a new layer over the whole piece and started refining further and painting details in. The overall result of the image was much too smooth for my liking because I never got around to adding textures as I normally would (which I may cover at a later time, depending on how this tutorial is received. I may be a totally useless teacher, hehe). I just used this layer for general polishing and tweaking in the image.

Finally, don’t forget to sign it :wink: (and whenever I do a master copy I always write on it that it is in fact as master copy, incase some idiot comes along, doesn’t read what you wrote next to the piece and goes directly to start whining that “You didn’t do that, that’s a well known piece by blah blah

Happy painting, guys - if you do try out this technique on anything, I’d love to see the results![/size][/font]


Hi Elsie…:slight_smile:
Great tutorial…you made it easy to understand and you also make it sound so easy LOL…:thumbsup:


Hey Elsie!

Great to see how you worked on this copy, thank’s for sharing this as a tutorial!:thumbsup:
And by no means you are a useless teacher, this is interesting to follow and very useful:bowdown:

Hope to see more of this soon!




Fantastic! :thumbsup: Thanks for creating your Tut! :slight_smile:

(Will pimp it a bit later ;))

Cheers, :slight_smile:



great tutorial ailsa :smiley: glad becca pimped u out on making this . becca u tut pimped u !


hahahahaah @ Rebecca the tut pimper!:smiley:

Elsie, I have to agree, you put together a great tutorial. Very clear and concise. This will most definitely be an incredibly useful tut for many people. Great work! - J


Just amazing work…congrats :applause: I really enjoy your approach to sketching the initial phases of the composition: white on black.


awesome :smiley:


Thank you very much everyone, glad you liked it :slight_smile: Becca, thanks for pimping on my behalf hehe :thumbsup: you are the pimp queen!


elsie! you’re too awesome! thanks for this tut and congrats on the front page! :thumbsup:


pretty mindblowing stuff - thanks for the tutorial!



This thread has been automatically closed as it remained inactive for 12 months. If you wish to continue the discussion, please create a new thread in the appropriate forum.