Bringing fantasy portraits to life
How Mélanie Delon’s art stands out from the crowd.
Fantasy portraiture is my favourite subject. Bringing an original character to life is exciting, but can be difficult to achieve. To avoid mistakes and save time I try to follow a few rules. But they’re really just guidelines, so feel free to adapt, change and test other techniques that might better suit your painting process. The most important thing to bear in mind is to take your time. This is the best
1 Preparatory sketch
Before starting an illustration, I always do some quick pencil sketches to lay down my ideas. This helps me to see more clearly what I want to do and express, and be more confident about the direction I want to take. I use these sketches to build the composition, reworking them slightly in Photoshop if necessary. Usually I like to keep them rough, because this gives me more freedom during the colouring process. I feel restricted by perfectly clean line-art. advice I can give, because nothing good comes from rushing a painting.
It’s worth spending time and effort trying to understand how a face ‘works’, such as under a particular lighting setup. Such a skill won’t be grasped overnight. Spend time experimenting with several techniques, and don’t be afraid to fail. I’ve learned – and still learn – a lot more when I struggle on a painting, and when I’m stuck (on a mouth or nose, for example), I don’t hesitate to redo everything… and have a coffee break!
The main challenge in a portrait painting is to make the character stand out. Usually there’s no surrounding decor in the environment to help you achieve this goal, and a finished, polished portrait can often end up looking flat and boring. Thankfully, there are several simple and effective ways to achieve a striking portrait that will be remembered.