Refining the sketch
I add more details to make sure I’ve got a pretty solid idea of where I want to go before I start applying colour. I give her a crown of flowers, as well as flowers at her feet and waist, and start to indicate that her staff is formed of swirling vines. At this point I’ve got most of my major elements indicated – although not fully detailed – so I’m ready to start colouring.
Now I start adding in the actual main colours. I create a new layer and set its Blending mode to Hard Light, from the floating layer window. This enables me to add bright, rich colour to the sketch without losing the details of the sketch. Using a standard circular brush, I quickly block in my areas of colour. I want the colours to be warm, bright and fresh.
I really like the contrast between the character’s armour and the surrounding greenery, so I push it a little forward by adding even more flowers, particularly on her staff. I’m not too sure about the blue butterflies at this point. I like all the dots of colour that they create, but they may not work in this particular colour scheme.
Tinting the sketch
I tint the sketch to a warmer colour, because I know I want this to be a warm colour piece overall. To do this I go to Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Color Balance. This creates a new layer that enables me to adjust the colour of the piece. I play with the sliders on the midtone and shadow tones until the sketch is a colour that I‘m happy with.
Beginning to paint
After adding the base colour, I create a Normal blending layer and begin to paint. My brush’s Opacity is set to 100 per cent, and the flow is set to between 15 and 20 per cent. I tend to work on the overall image in bits and pieces, rather than completely rendering one area at a time, because I like to see the overall look develop as I go along.
Rethinking areas of the piece
I notice in the previous drafts that her expression was beginning to look a bit dour, which is not what I want, so I start to work on it a bit more. I experiment with giving her a layered skirt, possibly with more chainmail elements. I also start playing with the idea of having the canopy of the tree look a little more stylised and become an encircling border form.