Tackle large shapes first
Underpainting the scene
I create a Color layer and fill it with a colour that complements my light source. I want to use a warm light, so I pick a desaturated blue-green. On a second Color layer, I add a saturated blue to shadow areas. When I begin to build up colours on top of this, I’ll use a pressure-sensitive brush and leave a little of these colours showing through, especially in shadow areas.
Don’t be afraid to adjust elements
Once I have my background loosely laid in, I move to the focal point: her face. This is where I want contrast and saturation, to draw the viewer’s eye at first glance. I start with a colour layer to block in her skintone, and realise that I’ve made her skin too light. So I create a Multiply layer and apply a desaturated shade of the skintone to darken it.
I think of ways to group my main colours. Colour is good for guiding the eye, but it loses effectiveness when used without control. Using separate Color layers, I block in the local colours of the water, rock and leaves. I want the water’s green leaves to bring the viewer’s eye down to discover the reflection, so I use an additional Overlay layer to amp up the saturation.