What’s a good way of adding drama and interest to a character portrait?
underlighting is a reliable way to add drama to a portrait. the key here is being able to envision your character’s face in three dimensions and work out which parts of the character are facing your light source. Start out by painting your character with a soft, low fill light. avoid dark shadows or bright highlights for now, unless you’re using multiple light sources.
now create a new layer in color dodge mode with a highly saturated colour (pick a similar hue to your light source) and apply colour to the planes of the face that should be illuminated. For underlighting, this checklist normally includes the base of your chin, the upper lip, the bottom of your nose, the lower eyelid, the underside of the cheek bone and just beneath your brow.
By adjusting the opacity of the layer and finetuning your edges with the erase tool, you can quickly create realistic-looking lighting in your portrait scene. once you’ve blocked in your underlighting you can start to add important details, such as the shadows cast by the bottom lip and eyelid, as well as adding specular light to your character’s eyes and hair. Finish up by creating a linear dodge layer and using a large Soft brush to suggest a fill light from the source of your underlighting.
atmosphere to character art, using
bold rim light to suggest the shape
of facial features.
I’ve found that the easiest way to approach complex lighting is to start your portrait with a low contrast fill light and build on that with new layers.