A piece I did for a magazine 6 months ago. Maybe you find it useful to read how I approach something like that.
When I approach a complex painting I always try to think several steps ahead to figure
out the easiest and fastest way to my desired goal. So for this task I want to paint a viking
ship figurehead with a variety of materials. I also want it to have different and interesting
colors and patterns and place it in a atmospheric setting. Painting these ideas all at once
would be a real pain. So how to approach it? Splitting all tasks in little digestible bits of
So I start off with the drawing, where I just focus on composition and design. It doesn’t
has to be too clean, but the more design questions I answer at this point the less I have to
work on the design later on.
After that I’ll block in the most important shapes on separate layers and lock the
transparency. This way I can go wild with my brushes but will always maintain a clean
Now that I got my shapes I start adding color. Just pick the ones I need and put it in
without thinking about light and shadow.
After that I get to the light and mood part. I use layer modes and brush modes like color dodge,
multiply, lighten, etc. I establish all light sources and start rendering the materials like I
think they would react to them.