TUTORIAL - Master Copy for OFDW 017 - By Dan Silverman


Hello! And thank you for stopping by and taking a look at my little tutorial. Rebeccak hosts these wonderful Open Figure Drawing Workshops and the current one (017) can be found here:


This particular workshop offered a beautiful selection of master images to choose from for the purpose of making a master copy in order to learn shape and form. From the available selection I chose the following image:

[left]My selection was based on the fact that I was amazed at the details and I loved the color scheme the original artist had chosen. With that in mind, let’s get started on the tutorial!

The first thing that was necessary is to lay down some line work. The initial sketch was important to me because it would be my guide throughout as I painted. At the same time, I did not want to spend a lot of time as the sketch was not the final destination. I had also made some decisions before hand to create this work completely digitally (mainly because real paint scares me half to death :wink: ). Therefore I opened Photoshop, selected a small smooth brush (5 PX in diameter), chose a pale gray color, created a blank layer and started to sketch:


[left]Personally, I never draw on the background layer. I always start any work I do in Photoshop on a fresh, new layer. As stated, the sketch was to be my guide. With it in place I created a new layer below the sketch layer. This new layer was for creating the background. I felt it was necessary to paint the background first as the background colors were going to guide me in the creation of the rest of the image.

To simplify the creation of the background I selected the darkest color (from the original image’s background) for the foreground color well in Photoshop and the lightest color for the background color well. Then I selected Photoshop’s gradient tool and created a gradient that went from the darkest color in the upper-left to the lightest in the lower-right. After that I used one of the following brushes to “splatter” various shades of the background color on the background:


[left]Besides laying down pure color I would also use MULTIPLY and SCREEN to create darker or lighter areas. I like to slowly build up color and therefore I tend to set the opacity of the brush to either 10% or 20%. I find that any setting above this is simply to drastic. Here is the background:



With the background in place and using the sketch as a guide, it was time to paint the foreground image. I decided to start on the rifle because it was the furthest object from the viewer. In other words, in my mind, it looked like the rifle would be a prime candidate for an object that could occupy its own layer. I tend to work in layers in Photoshop, so this decision suited me. I selected one of Photoshop’s standard smooth-edged brushes (nothing fancy here … no custom brushes) and laid out the initial shape of the rifle. I made sure the sketch layer remained at the top and set its transparency to 10%. This allowed me to follow my sketch without it being to obtrusive. After the basic shape of the rifle was painted in (before adding any real details) I hide the sketch layer so that I am not tempted to rely on the sketch, but am refering to the reference image. In other words, I wanted the sketch to only be there for blocking out initial shapes and not for painting the details.
I think I work a bit differently than many others do. I see a lot of people lay down colors quickly in a general form thus identifying areas of contrast and highlights and the like for the entire painting. I have personally never felt confortable with working like that and therefore I like to work in smaller areas and bring them to near completion before moving on. I have always drawn this way and now it appears that I am painting this way as well. I suppose it gives me a sense of accomplishment along each step of creating the artwork.

A basic color was laid down for the rifle and then highlights and dark areas laid in via MULTIPLY and SCREEN modes. Other than changing colors I only used MULTIPLY and SCREEN to create bright and dark areas. In most cases I really like the changes made using these two modes. I rarely like the results achieved with DODGE and BURN or the other modes though there are certainly times to use them.

Here is the initial rifle in place:

[left]The next area that I chose was the head. I followed a similar technique by making the sketch layer visible and the blocking in the shape with an “average” color from the face area. By “average” I mean that I would look at the image and look for large dark areas and large light areas. I would then try to determine what was a decent average between them and that would be my base color. Once the basic shape was blocked in I hid the sketch layer and then began roughing in shapes and, once roughed in, would continue on to adding the details and finalizing the shapes.

Here is the head area in the midst of the work:


[left]Here you can see it after a few more details are added:




The next logical step (for me, at least :slight_smile: ) was to paint the hat. Initially the hat was on its own layer. In fact, since the hat in the painting had so many of its own layers of material and colors I decided to paint each section of the hat on its own layer in Photoshop. For example, I started with the top portion of the hat (the part that looks like an orange pair :slight_smile: ) and then moved downward. Remember, each part of the hat was created, one at a time, on its own layer. As each layer was completed I would merge the layers together and then continue to paint to make them blend in better. For example, I painted the top portion of the hat. Then I painted the yellow band beneath it. I would then merge the layer for top and the yellow band so that, instead of two layers, I had one. Once merged I would continue to paint to make the two blend together.

The hat parts were mostly painted with the same standard Photoshop brush (the smooth round brush). The only exception was the softer details on the top part of the hat. I used the same brushes that I had used on the background. I did not use them to lay down any new color, though. Instead, I used MULTIPLY and SCREEN to make areas lighter or darker.

Here are some screen shots of the hat going through its stages:


In keeping with the concept of painting in layers I moved next to painting the items he was holding. Once again I selected an average color, blocked in the basic shape with the sketch layer visible. Once completed the sketch layer was hidden and then detail work was started. Much of the detail work was done using MULTIPLY and SCREEN, but occasionally, when these would not yeild the color tones I was looking for, I would select a new color. As stated before, I would work with MULTIPLY and SCREEN with an opacity of only 10% or 20%. 10% was what I mainly used, slowly building up to the shade and tone I was after. From time to time I would also use the SMUDGE tool to help further blend things in.

[left]With all of that done it was time to paint the main area of the painting … that which is foremost in the image … the man’s wonderful coat. For me, I found that this was the most difficult area for me to paint. As with all the rest of the image I started by revealing the sketch layer and blocking in the basic shape with a color from the man’s coat.


The other areas (the rifle, the face, the hat, etc) were all fairly small and clearly defined making it easy for me to block in an area and paint it until it was done. Because of the way I was working on this image I found that it was more difficult to do this on the coat because the area was so large. Therefore I broke the coat up into naturally defined areas, such as where seams were in the coat, or where the man’s left arm sits behind the torso, etc. In this manner I proceeded, piece by piece, through painting the coat.

And the finished coat (without the decorative work on it):

Once again I saw the decorative parts of the coat as something that could have been painted on their own layer. Therefore I created a new layer, selected the appropriate average color and blocked in the basic shapes. Once done MULTIPLY and SCREEN were used to created the basic shadows and highlights. Once that was completed this layer was merged with the layer the coat was on. With the layers merged I continued to paint in details and to blend the two layers together so that they would look like they belonged together.

Here is th final image:

This image was created in a rather simple and consistant method. I used only two brushes (a standard “smooth” brush and the one that looks like a bunch of spots) and I either laid down new color or used MULTIPLY or SCREEN to affect the light areas and dark. I would also use the SMUDGE brush from time to time to help further blend things in. Separate layers were always merged down in order to further blend what was once separate into one object. The sketch layer was used as a guide only for the initial blocking in of a base color, but was hiden to paint the details.

A final note:

I found it useful to save my work whenever I achieved something that looked good to me. And when I saved the PSD file I would save under an incremental name (i.e. paint1, paint2, paint3, etc). Not only did this allow me to return to a previous version if I needed to, but it also created a step-by-step process of how the image was created, but making this tutorial very easy to write :slight_smile: .

I made many mistakes throughout this image, but I learned a lot, which was the purpose behind the workshop. I hope that this small tutorial is helpful to you. If you have any questions, please feel free to post them here. If there is something that I have left out or did not explain clearly enough, please feel free to ask.

Thank you.[/left]


:DThink I will be the first in comment it, your finished paint look really gorgeous, and very well detailed, and the tutorial is very understable, and easy to follow, it really worth to take the time for reading it, so i will do it right now, thanks for this.

Hope to see you in the next OFDW, good work :thumsup:

Edit: Taking a deeper looking, this painting way reminds me the way I paint comics, but taked further, great technique


Wonderful tutorial and lovely image. The drapery is just gorgeous, well done!



Awesome, thank you so much for doing this! What a treat to see this step by step, and it’s been a pleasure to have you in the Workshop. :slight_smile:

This is a beautifully written Tutorial, and I have added the link to your Tutorial here:

Anatomy Forum Tutorial Pack - Bobby Chiu + Steven Stahlberg + Dan Silverman




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