I have been asked to do a tutorial on portraits. So here it is - a step-by-step explanation, complete with illustrations. I'll draw the picture: "Town elder", created for our free RPG adventure game in development..

STEP 1 & 2

Step 1 Step 2

Step 1: This is the sketching stage. It's where I put on paper what I visualized. This one is a 2B 0,7 mm mechanical pencil on 120 grams grainy paper drawing. I scanned it @ 600 dpi into the computer. Combining pencil drawings with computer color is my favorite way to do things, though I sometimes sketch straight on the pc, using my tablet, when I have the image worked out in my head. Otherwise I prefer good old pencil and paper :)

Step 2: I created a second layer, in "multiply" mode. I lay down all basic colors. This stage is where I decide about light(s) and colors. I save the image in PSD format, since the native Painter 7 (RIF) format is "screwy" to put it mildly;)

I rarely use more than two layers. Sometimes I dont use layers at all, but paint straight on the sketch with low opacity brushes. This mimimizes the RAM use and allows me therefore to work faster. My system has only 512 MB RAM.

STEP 3 & 4

Step 3 Step 4

Step 3: I drop (combine) the color layer, and start working on the detail of the head, hands...

Step 4: ... and the hair. I am pleased with the general looks of them and continue with the rest of the drawing.

STEP 5 & 6

Step 5 Step 6

Step 5: Here I repainted the left sleeve and colored the clothing and the background. Image is almost done.

Step 6: The final touches and retouches. I look at the picture again, and redo some detail, adjust colors here and there. Here I noticed his left hand was out of proportion, so I changed it. I selected the hand with the lasso tool, copied it, pasted in the new image and resized that. Then I selected the hand (with magic wand on background, invert selection) and pasted it back into the picture. I then retouched the surrounding of the hand, and dropped the layer. This might sound like a roundabout way to do it, but I find the Painter's "free transform selction" algoritm to be very bad, so if I need to do any resizing, this is the way I do it. Sometimes I use Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro to do the resizing.

Here I also reduced contrast of the head highlights a bit.

I'm not very concerned with the legs here, since they will be cropped off for the fnal picture (that will be used in the game engine), so they're not very detailed.

Total amount of time spent on this picture is about 1.5 hours, including the sketch. Tools used are "grainy water" and various customized "oil" brushes from Painter 5.5 that I still use in Painter 7. Those, "2b pencil", "eraser" and "scratchboard tool" are pretty much all the tools I use.

I hope it's been informative/educational in some way. If you'd like me to do another tutorial, have some comments or question, feel free to contact me at

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