First post in my new journal! Exciting! ;) I thought I'd start things off by going over the process on my latest illustration. I've had several people want to see more tutorials/works in progress from me, so that seems like a good way to go for now.
For my latest illustration, I wasn't sure what I wanted to paint aside from a portrait, so I started with some random shapes using the pattern chalk tool in Painter X (using mostly some patterns of the fibonacci spiral) and sketched a face within all that mess. This gave me a basic framework to start with, even though I still wasn't sure about the direction.
Using the Pattern Chalk tool is something I learned from Andrew Jones' tutorials here: http://theartdepartment.org/contributing-professionals/andrew-jones He obviously produces much better results (seriously, he is amazing. Totally an art hero of mine). I like to use the pattern chalk brush for getting some random shapes in my early drafts to generate some fresh and unexpected ideas when I'm lacking in inspiration. :)
Next I started defining the face and shapes a little more (I also flipped the canvas horizontally). Originally I was thinking of making it all more abstract, but I've been finding it challenging to make an abstract look properly "finished." It either looks too sketchy, or it starts getting to rendered and realistic. One of these days I'll figure out it out.
I couldn't figure out what I wanted to do with the spiralling forms on her head until I started realizing that they'd make awesome nautilus shells, so I started rendering them as such, and added a few other underwater themed elements and colors.
The portrait is starting to take shape more now. It's still pretty abstracted; I wasn't sure at this point if I wanted to keep it that abstracted, or start really solidifying the forms.
There are a few steps missing here; I accidently flattened some parts of my draft; sorry about that. :) I decided to make all the nautiluses face the same way to give the sense that they were all part of a moving swarm rather than just a random group clustering around the woman's head. I also started drastically changing the color scheme. I liked where previous drafts were going colorwise, but I'm such a sucker for bright colors that I have a hard time staying away from them sometimes.
I expanded the canvas to include more of the woman's body and add more nautilus shells in the upper part of the image.
Tightening things up a bit, rendering the nautilus shells and trying to figure out how the hands should be positioned..
I decided the colors were too dull, so I set my brush to "Hard Light" and went nuts painting the sky purple and yellow.
Around this point I was getting really tired of rendering all those darn nautilus shells. This was one of those illustrations that felt like it'd never be finished no matter how many hours I dumped into it.
But finally it was finished! Here's what I ended up. Robotic bioluminescent nautili flying through the air with a robotic woman. On another planet or something. I like the composition and colors, even if the narrative makes no darn sense. ;)