Step by Step: Getting the colours right
1 Gathering reference
Often during a photoshoot with a model I’ll take plenty of pictures and experiment with different poses and variations. This results in lots of extra reference, and this image was created with recycled scrap reference from past projects. As for the birds, I spend a lot of my free time at the zoo. Stock photos fill in the gaps.
2 Creating a detailed preliminary
I usually make my sketches about a third to half the overall size of the final. In this case the sketch was 12x18 inches and the painting was 20x30 inches. For these I use tuscan red Col-Erase pencil, white charcoal and either pre-toned paper or a cotton paper that I tone with a wash of watercolour.
3 Digital colour study
A digital study enables me to experiment with a range of colour schemes. I scan in my pencil study and then create a separate mask for all the different elements. It’s a tedious step, but I can then adjust everything separately with adjustment layers such as Levels, Color, Soft Light and Color Balance.