Memento mori - step by step

September 7th, 2013

This was the first time I started a painting, spent hours on it, and realized it wasn't working. Trashed it, started again. Why was the first painting not working? This is my reference photo. I believe I made the proportions of her face wrong in the very beginning. Then, I made her face too dark, and used a muted skin tone. Also, I focused on the small face features and the part around her mouth so much, it started to look like a caricature.

I know it wouldn't be fair not to show the first one I consider failed, as embarrassing as it was, so here it is. I know it's not that bad now I look at it, but it just started to frustrate me too much.

Did I get it perfect the second time around? Far from it. I think miss Kikuchi is far more beautiful than my painting. But I am happy with my result.

So, this is Memento mori - take 2.


1. The sketch

It's not a very good photo, but you get the idea. Just a basic sketch with more details on the face, since it'll be a portrait and really needs to look like her.


2. Starting with Mako

This time, I decided to start painting Mako's basic features, to make sure I got all the proportions right. I also used brighter, more peachy tones for her face, and used more red in the midtones, to make the face less muted.


3. Raleigh and the background

Once I thought her face was ok, I moved on to painting the background and Raleigh. For me, it's important to paint the background sooner rather than later, to make sense of the lighting and various relations between color, light, and dark.


4. The details

I'm leaving him alone for now, and working on her face, but not too much. Don't want to fall in the trap of "overpainting" her. I'm being extra careful about it.


5. More details and the background

Working on more details of her face, and adding more color to the background.


6. Almost done

Finally worked on him more, finished her hair and outfit, worked on the background more. As I'm almost finished with a painting, I get kind of restless, like watching a really tense movie and really wanting to know how it'll unfold.

As a bonus, this is how I work on paper, with tape, messiness and all!


7. Finished!

Scanned and made pretty. This is what the colors actually look like.