Progress on Seven illustration

I thought I’d give a bit of an account of the process in illustrating my latest piece, done for the Happy challenge – Seven

To begin with, I took a couple of photos with the webcam. The lighting was terrible, this was just to give me a base to do the initial outlines.. I couldn’t use them for colour or lighting reference unfortunately.

Using my wacom tablet and Adobe Flash, I drew in the black lines. I really like the inky feel that the paintbrush tool gives you

Then I exported a transparent png and opened it in Corel Painter. The other work was done in layers underneath for the most part.

Next up I started laying in really broad, basic colours. In the best of all possible worlds I would have coloured the entire image like this to get a feel of how it would all work, but I was keen to play with skin tones so I left the clothes and background until the end.

Once I had the basic tones, I wanted to see how it would look with a touch of blue and green. I really enjoyed this – just laying down colours, blending them and generally experimenting

However once I was done I could see that it was all too pale. The black lines stood out way too much because the skin was so light. I got a solid dark brown and coloured where I thought the shadows would fall. Then I changed the layer to “Hard Light” and pulled back the opacity to where I thought it looked best

I was pretty happy with how that looked so I cleaned it up a bit and introduced some more darker greens and blues to tie the sides together somewhat. And of course because I was still playing with the colours :)

Then I coloured my clothes, and also brought some brown back into my hair and eyebrows so they weren’t so dominant

Finally I added the background. Even here I experimented a bit with some wallpaper type options, but in the end decided that the flat green with a tonal difference on each side had the most impact. The green linked the background colours into the face, but also was dark enough to allow the face to stand out much more.

And that’s about it. I hope you found that interesting or informative, or else you’ve seen through my technique and realise it’s all about playing around ;)


  • Paul McClintock
    Paul McClintockalmost 5 years ago

    Good insight on your process. You’ve inspired me to do one as well.

  • That’s great news, because I’m really interested in how you created your self portrait. It is absolutely stunning!

    – Damien Mason

  • Chris Wahl
    Chris Wahlalmost 5 years ago

    Interesting read.

  • Pip Gerard
    Pip Gerardalmost 5 years ago

    thanks for sharing.

  • Cathie Tranent
    Cathie Tranentalmost 5 years ago

    That’s brilliant – I’ve started and rejected 3 now. Maybe I’ll try again …..

  • Paul McClintock
  • Natalie Tyler
    Natalie Tyleralmost 5 years ago

    Great insight into the process Damien. Thanks for sharing this …

  • georgiegirl
    georgiegirlalmost 5 years ago

    Its always encouraging to see how everyone else paints (digital or traditional). Thanks for the details and stepbystep!!!!

  • Thanks! I wasn’t sure how interesting this would be to anyone else, but I know I like to read these kinds of things so hey :)

    – Damien Mason

  • georgiegirl
    georgiegirlalmost 5 years ago

    btw… it looks brilliant!!!!!

  • Sturstein
    Stursteinover 4 years ago

    I think we all like to see process work; get an idea of what makes each other tick. I always find the hardest part with these things is remembering to periodically save/document the damn thing once I’m in the zone! ;)

  • Yeah, in this case I had layers. I tend to use layers like other people would use undos, every time i’m going to try something new or risky I chuck it on a new layer just in case

    – Damien Mason