Step-by-step: Building an image from soft to hard
1 I want to break up the composition into a smaller lit area and a bigger one in shadow, making my character almost disappear. After a quick line drawing I quickly block in the lights and shadows, and also lay down the small reflected light patches in the dark, which will give shape to my character in the shadows.
2 After a quick colour overlay, where I block in the darker cold and the brighter warm hues, I start to paint everything on top. I wanted to keep this step loose, so I use large brush strokes and almost smudge my forms into each other. I avoid defining shapes and adding hard edges, so that the figure is ghost-like.
3 For detailing my character I use the desaturated cold bounce light of the sky above, which contrasts with the warm tones in the piece. I place the most contrast around the face to create a natural focal area and leave more lost edges on the silhouette, to keep the figure mysterious and to inspire the viewer’s imagination.