Softening effect on the colours
Here’s a trick for softening the colours without affecting the sharpness too greatly. First I copy everything to a new layer. Then, I run the image through a Gaussian Blur filter. Next I set that new blurry layer to Lighter Color mode and finally adjust how strong I want the effect to be using Hue/Saturation. It can add a nice ambience to the painting!
Now that I’m starting to settle on the composition, I can begin to go in and work on the details. I start looking at close-up photos of eyes and jewellery for inspiration of the kinds of things I might include, although I try to avoid directly referencing anything because it most likely won’t fit into the drawing I already have. I’m working flatly and not worrying about layer management with this painting.