Thursday, August 18, 2016

Portrait of Laura

Last month I attended a TLC Workshop taught by Dan Dos Santos. I've been a fan of Dan Dos Santos' work for years and I carefully study his use of light and color. So when I heard that he was teaching a workshop in Washington, I jumped at the chance to attend.

TLC Workshops are small, private weekend workshops taught by renowned fantasy artists. We spent three days learning from Dan about light and color and how to light a portrait. We learned about up lighting, down lighting, Rembrandt, Paramount and butterfly lighting. Dan set up a model head on a table and had us practice painting various lighting scenarios.

Here are a few of my exercises:

After practicing the fundamentals of light and color for the first two days, on the last day Dan had us take photographs of our fellow classmates and paint portraits of them. I immediately grabbed classmate Laura Exley, because I thought it would be really cool to backlight her teal blue hair.

I decided that I wanted to draw her moth tattoo coming to life, and have the moths be backlit with translucent wings.

That was about as far as I got that day. I had to finish the rest at home.

Here's a process GIF, because I know you guys like those:

Let's get some sweet closeup shots of those moths:

You may have noticed that I changed Laura's tattoo from a tiger to a thistle. This was because I felt that the tiger would be too distracting from the moths, and also I was too lazy to draw a tiger.

I drew the tattoo on its own layer, then set the layer to "overlay." It faded the tattoo in a way that was surprisingly convincing.

Laura asked for my computer specs, so here they are: I work in Adobe Photoshop, using a Wacom Cintiq 21UX and a desktop PC. I listen to podcasts on iTunes, I drink Mighty Leaf tea and my favorite ice cream is chocolate chip cookie dough.

Thanks to Laura Exley for modeling, Dan Dos Santos for teaching, Daniel Chang for taking photos and Tara Larsen Chang for putting on the TLC Workshops.


  1. Final image is pleasant, and your tablet is cool too :)

  2. I'm doing an oil painting of my niece--she has some tattoos and I've been stuck on them. I hadn't thought of altering them. Thank you! Beautiful painting.


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