Self-critique banner collage with digital painting For the Love of Gold
Digital Painting

Self-critique: For the Love of Gold

Finished a new digital painting recently; I thought I would do a self-critique on here. Not sure of the best format for something like this, so I’ll just jump in! 😀

Digital Painting - For the Love of Gold

What I Enjoyed:

  • Feeling more comfortable with color: After reading Johannes Itten’s The Art of Color back in December/January, I’m feeling a lot more comfortable playing with color and mixing color. The book was a helpful bridge between the monotone “Huevember” challenge pieces and a full color portrait.
  • Experimenting with gold rendering: I found this tutorial on DeviantArt super helpful for all the jewelry bits. When I started the gold lacing on the dress, I was kind of winging it at first and I do think that all the various little touches of dark greens (for shadows)/oranges (for… spice?) made that area feel a bit choppy. Of course, it’s a little hard to tell now because I did go back in on the lace and use the same gold palette as the jewelry/crown, but I can still see some of the oranges/greens peeking out. Using a more set palette with clear tone levels helped make the crown a much easier process.
  • Taking Work-in-Progress screen shots: I have these up on my Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr (same screenshots on all three, but IG has a short WIP video, too). Seriously, though, seeing how different a piece ends up as I work in it was very heartening. It makes me realize that I can work through the awkward phases of a painting to the finished piece, and I don’t need to worry if it’s not looking “perfect” right away. And I can always make changes to my painting and let go of ruining it. I did a lot of merging layers and forging on ahead. Except for the gold bits and glowing amulet, I was mostly working on one layer. Or working on a temporary layer and then merging down to my base layer, which I learned from Ctrl+Paint (though now I can’t find the specific tutorial where he shows keeping the number of layers fairly small).

What I’d Like to Work On:

  • Noses: How do they even? Seriously though, that was the part of the face I struggled with the most.
  • Getting away from the yearbook-photo-style posing: I imagine that doing a lot of loose gesture drawings will help me with finding more dynamic poses, even for shoulders-and-above type portraits.
  • Skin tones: So this piece started off black and white, which I then brushed over with a color-overlay set brush. I super struggled through that whole process. I’d say for the most part I ended up painting over my B&W rendering completely. I’d like to work on a range of skin tones and knowing what color palettes mix well for a given skin tone type. Perhaps some sphere renderings of different palettes would help with learning this better?
  • Greyscale-to-color painting process: On that same note, I’d like to figure out how to actually do that process, even if I don’t always end up using it. I will say starting with greyscale forced me to really consider the light source!
  • Using a range of Photoshop brushes: I’ve been sticking with Matt Khor’s CTRL+Paint “basic three” brush set (and mostly just using the soft round and hard round). I would like to learn how to use Kyle T. Webster’s brush set – I bought it last year in May, but haven’t really used it (and haven’t loaded it into PS since I wiped/reinstalled my PC in January).  And now it’s available in Creative Cloud 2018 by default, so that will be interesting to see how I should pull in the brushes.

Possible Things to Explore:

  • Crown shapes/design: It would be fun to make a bunch of different possible designs of crowns and tiaras. Opulent costumes are just…my favorite thing ever (ノ´ヮ`)ノ✧✧✧
  • Same character, but within a background/setting and zoomed out to capture the entire figure: The narrative on this piece that I added to DeviantArt was: “Perhaps once there were elves who lived among the dwarves in the mines, so deeply did they love the glitter of gold and gems – walking in the darkest places, bringing the light of their stars to the tunnels below.”  It’d be fun to show her in a dwarven hall. Plus I’d get to design her a whole fancy dress! :p


I think most of all, I’m hoping to take away the lesson of just going for it and finishing pieces, even if they aren’t exactly what I’m thinking they’ll be. I can explore and go where the painting leads. And suprisingly, things seem to turn out OK! ^_^

I let WIP files sit on my PC waaaay to long collecting dust. Off to work on the next one! <3

Listening to: Black and Gold, Sam Sparro
Current mood: happy

I'm an illustrator and web developer honing my skills and learning all I can about drawing, painting, and storytelling through visual art.