Rayph Beisner is a concept artist for Zenimax Online Studios. He's also draws a mean pinup! Extensive notes follow...
For this painting I wanted to put together something that was a bit of a throwback to the golden age of pinups (think girls on airplanes) but with a little bit more of a video game-esque vibe, hence the miniguns and ammo belt. Not the most mind challenging image and subject matter but it's damn entertaining to draw!
Notes On Drawing Females
Avoid ‘chiseling’ faces. You want to keep your brush strokes solid enough to establish forms but attempt to avoid over-structuring the face. Larger brushes in the early phases help with this. Block in the larger shapes and whittle your way down to smaller, subtler forms. The blending brush is great for the female form in using it to establish hard edges with smooth gradient transitions.
1.) Initial sketch. When approaching a final illustration having a solid sketch in either line or value to establish your composition and overall shapes is important to ensuring a ‘stress free’ workflow. In this particular case having soft feminine curves contrast against the utilitarian vehicle structure creates a nice contrast of shape to play off each other. Although the vehicle she is laying on is somewhat complex, I want to keep its importance downplayed to ensure our leading lady here remains the center of interest.
2.) Nothing fancy yet, just a solid color layout done in a layer underneath the lineart (if using scanned line art be sure to set the line layer to multiply to ensure the white is transparent). For this image I jumped straight into color because I tend to find using layer modes such as overlay or soft light tend to muddy up the colors in the end or just do not end up as rich as they might establishing them yourself in the beginning. With that said, having a solid value foundation for your color to play off of is absolutely essential.
3.) At this stage I like to start knocking out the line art and laying in some base shapes with paint. I do this by reducing the opacity of the line art layer to around 60-70% usually. Another good trick is to right-click the line layer and go to the blending options and go to ‘color overlay’ and set the line art to a color hue. This makes it easier for painting over so your eyedropper never accidentally selects a ‘black’ from the line art. Be sure not to overrender your females at this stage (like I nearly did). Focus on soft, simple form to establish a good foundation.
4.) Here is the first initial step of painting over the line art completely to establish my forms. In a new layer above all the other previous work I begin painting my basic forms in. At this point you still want to keep things simple and focus on the overall form, working big to small. Admittedly, I over render faces too early but I find this often helps me establish lighting scenarios as well as help me keep the focal point clear throughout the painting process. On this image I thought giving her a slight bite to her bottom lip would add a little character/sex appeal. Also on female figures establishing the eyes can be key in defining the character. Here I used the typical slightly oversized eye forms to establish an area of interest.
5.) Once an initial painting pass has been put down, I like to go in and start fleshing out secondary details. In this case going so far as to add whole new elements to the image (headlights in this instance). I find it preferable to remain as adaptable and flexible as possible in the process of painting. A great quote one of my teachers gave me was to ‘treat a painting like a drawing, and a drawing like a painting.’ Here you will notice I also begin to add more feminine features like her makeup and start to hit some of the specular points on her body for interest like the nose/lips/breasts/butt.
6.) This stage is simply further refinement. Focusing on finer details and smaller objects. Fleshing out the surface materials for the objects in the scene. At this point I will often throw down an overlay layer or two and adjust/enhance some color properties within the image. In this case I also used a gradient map layer copy set to ‘soft light’ to pull my colors together more effectively.
7.) Cleanup rendering, adjusting values and final effects (highest highs and darkest darks) as well as any additional post effects needed (I added a slight blur to the back half of the vehicle to add a little depth to the image, cheesy but can work for you in the right instances).
You can see more of Rayph's lavish creations at his blog and CG hub page!