Digital Portrait of a Freckled Girl

Digital Portrait of a Freckled Girl - student project

My little Bamboo Pen tablet (a hopeful purchase some years ago) had been collecting dust in the closet. The learning curve of Photoshop is an intimidating rabbit-hole; having a class like this is a good way to stay focused on a few new skills.

Our first task was to manipulate our reference photo (furthest left) with more contrast, a posterizing filter, and a stroke filter version. This gave me a range of options and ideas of how I wanted the final digital painting to look.

(Original photographer - Daniil Kontorovich)


I set up my canvas with the reference image to the left and equal space to the right. Then I filled in the background color so that lighter values will be more noticeable when I add them in.


Can I just say how awkward it is to not look at your hand when you're drawing?!

One of the biggest challenges in traditional painting is staying away from detail. Loose, general shapes that can be altered is what I'm used to, which wasn't so different in this process. I used a large, soft brush to block in larger shapes.

I clearly don't know what I'm doing here (the edges have a strange drag to them) and it's clumsy, but hey, there's always an ugly-duckling phase. 


A little more progress here; proportions and shapes are getting more accurate.


Clarifying the drawing and values here. This got much easier once I found some brushes online that work a little better for me (this is another rabbit hole; 500 photoshop brushes isn't as useful as 5-10 ones that you know how to use well).

I'll keep some of the strokes soft (like the hair going into the background). By making the eyes the sharpest, most detailed part of the painting they should read as being the most important (as is the case in most portraiture).


Finally, the finishing touches. I made a brush of stamped spots and that sped up the process considerably. I found a pastel brush online and used some of those strokes between the hair and the background to add a sense of atmosphere.

There are some areas that could still use work (the hard lines between the cheekbones and forehead to the hair should be softer). Overall pleased with how much I learned in this class and I enjoyed seeing other student's work.

Without struggle, there can be no progress.