July 4th through July 10th
What goes better with witches than crystals?
Well... maybe a few things... but... what I'm trying to say is that this felt like a natural pairing. Right from the start, I knew I would be in my element with this challenge. I love crystals and have a lot of experience creating them. You can check out some of these pieces in my Conquered collection.
Anyway, this week honestly wasn’t much of a challenge for me. If I’m completely transparent, I designed it that way! I didn’t want every week to be filled with struggles and concepts I had a hard time with. I wanted to make sure there were some weeks that I knew I would enjoy and excel at. Of course, it doesn't always work that way. Week four’s Vintage Witch challenge was one I thought was guaranteed to be fun and easy. I was wrong. Lol
But the Crystal Witch prompt was super exciting. I had so many ideas swirling around in my head. I actually had to refrain from spending too much time sketching five or more concepts. Three sketches were plenty for a challenge, and it was already going to be difficult to choose which one to follow through with.
I loved them all! How could I possibly choose???
I decided that the challenging part of this week's prompt would be to finish more than one piece. I knew for sure I wanted to do the middle one because it felt the most like a fully realized Crystal Witch. Putting the two hand sketches on social media, I asked people to vote for their favorite. It was a tie. Not helpful, fam. Not. Helpful. But at least everyone seemed to like what I was doing.
What the hell, I thought, I’ll just do all three. Crazy pants. I don't know what's wrong with me.
Diving in with the Right Hand, I thought it would be cool to give digital art another try. It is super fun. My favorite part about working digitally is that I can try out all sorts of things to see what I like best without committing to anything. And of course there is the concept of working non-destructively that I wrote about last week.
I ran into fewer problems this time than I did the first, but I will say that I thought the process would go a lot faster. I spent a good six or seven hours on this piece.
I started with the background. It is hard to tell in the original sketch, but originally I had planned to use a diamond and a circle for my framing style on this piece. Unsure about how I wanted this to come together, I tried out a bunch of things. I wish I had saved the different ones, but I got wrapped up in the process and forgot. Taking pictures (or in this case, saving different versions) of my pieces throughout this challenge was actually a struggle for me. I’ll do better for you next time!
Next I got busy with the basics. I had a copy of my original sketch turned down to 50% opacity so that I could trace my work on to different layers in Photoshop. Super glad I remembered to do each part on its own layer. Now I don't go crazy with this. The lines of the hand were on one layer, the nails had their own layer, one for the tattoos and one for the crystal. This helps a lot with making adjustments and working non-destructively.
I used the eyedropper tool to choose a skin tone from one of Angelica Dass’ Humanae images. This was wonderful because mixing paint or choosing a HEX color for skin tones is so difficult. I’m not sure if people would view this as cheating but I certainly don’t see it that way. Make sure to have your skin color on a separate layer!
For some reason, instead of shading the hand as would be the logical order to work in, I went in on the crystal instead. This was really really fun and turned out far better than I could have ever imagined. It took close to three hours to finish, though.
To finish this piece, I decided that the shading could be done with a clipped layer set to Overlay blending mode and a low opacity brush set to 10% opacity with black as the paint color. If this sounds like complete gibberish to you, I totally get it. I’m hoping to do some Photoshop tutorials and explanations later for those that are interested. The point of this though, is that the technique worked incredibly well and I actually wish I had used it when I was working on the crystal.
What really brought it together was the highlights on the nails. They might be my favorite part.
With that piece done, I got into the studio to put in some watercolor work with the other two. As I mentioned, mixing skin tones is extremely difficult. I have had immense troubles in the past but I’m pleased to see some improvement lately.
However, this piece gave me a lot of trouble. It was probably the sketch I was most excited about and in the end it is my least favorite of the three. The skin tone is not great and I feel I may have accidentally painted on the wrong side of the watercolor paper because the paint was blending strangely.
This was also my first time trying out some paint pens I bought recently. I got them intending to use them to create the framing technique I use on a lot of my piece, like the ones in my Conquered collection. With this piece, I wanted the background to have a similar feel to the one I did digitally, a full color to frame the composition but it did not end up being the quality I was hoping for. I don’t think this is horrible but I am not a fan of being able to see the strokes of the pen. I find it distracting.
Something new I tried with this piece was mixing in just a little Paynes Grey to the shadows of the skin. This, in combination with the red I put on the joints, creates an amazing yet subtle contrast that I feel really helps to bring depth to the piece.
And since my adventure with painting hair went pretty okay last week, I was excited to give it another go. I think it turned out even better this time. Although a lot of that has to do with the proportion differences between the two pieces. Not really sure what compelled me to choose this fuchsia color for her hair, but I do not regret it one bit.
What I do regret is the extreme shadow between her arms. This was definitely a mistake. It doesn't look bad, it’s just that the viewer's eye is automatically drawn to the darkest part of the image. Maybe I’m wrong about that though. Feel free to tell me I’m over thinking it in the comments below.
The finishing touches for this one was outlining with micron pens. I outlined last instead of doing it before I began painting because I knew that the techniques I was going to use would not cause me to lose many details and outlining at the end allows me to sort of clean up the edges of the paint.
All in all, this was a great challenge. I enjoyed working with something I am familiar with but trying out some new techniques. The progress I have seen in my talent and in my style is very rewarding.
If you would be interested in seeing any of these pieces as prints, please let me know in the comments!