This is my finished painting:
MY WORK PROCESS
I used this reference photo:
I created a canvas where the reference photo is above the painting area and alpha-locked the painting area, like Gabrielle demonstrated (except hers were side-by-side, but same idea).
I drew the outline of the leaves - started off using a grid, but then removed the grid and sketched without one. Since this is not a face I think I could get away with some imprecision in the placement of the leaves.
The I went over the messy outline again in a new layer while looking at the reference photo to "feel the edges" of the leaves and clean up the outline. I used the monoline brush (calligraphy) for a smoother cleaner line.
Then I did something which may be a bit of overkill. I created lots of layers with several leaves in each layer, and alpha-locked each of these leaf layers so that I could work on each leaf separately without affecting the leaves around it or changing the leaf shape as I'm working.
Also, rather than painting in color, I painted in greyscale. I started with a mid-grey, and using the gouache brush, I shaded in black and white.
Then I added a color layer on top (change from "Normal" mode to "Color" mode) to color in the greens, reds, yellows, etc on top of the greyscale painting. I went back-and-forth to the grey layers to adjust the value and the colorizing layer to change the colors. I know it's a crazy method but it really helps me because I find it much easier to shade in greyscale and worry about color later.
Then I flattened the painting (the many layers of the leaves and the color layer) so I was back to working in one layer as Gabrielle showed in class. I refined the colors as you would normally do on the one flattened layer. I also used the smudge tool (soft airbrush) to soften and blend the hard edges (which were a result of painting the leaves in separate layers).
Here's the finished painting again:
I'm pretty happy with it, although I feel that my weak points are color (being able to manipulate color and not just copy the same color as the reference photo) and being more painterly and loose. But I know I just need to practice :-)
Thanks Gabrielle for an inspiring and helpful class!