Bring­ing fan­tasy por­traits to life

How Mélanie Delon’s art stands out from the crowd.

ImagineFX - - Contents -

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.

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