I don't always use reference for my art but in this case I was actually inspired by the photo provided to me by photo-reference-for-comic-artists.com. The dynamic pose in this picture reminded me of an action scene from Ghost in the Shell so I decided to do something related to that. This illustration was started the traditional way, with pencil on paper. At first I loosely sketch the drawing with a very light pencil line. When I am happy with the sketch I go over it and refine the line drawing. I loosely indicate where the shadows would fall based on the imaginary light source/sources. The finished drawing is scanned and imported into Corel Painter. Next I adjust contrast and brightness to clean up the drawing a little.
For this illustration I used the Simple Water brush found in Water Color section in Corel Painter. The reason I like to use this brush is because it behaves like a mix of watercolors and oils. With that I mean it blends like traditional watercolors but I can use lighter colors on top of dark and blend them in just like with oil paints. Most of the work on this illustration is done on one layer. Simple Water brush works only on the primary layer in Painter. I like to paint that way anyway. I start with painting the background first. I lay down rough shapes and start refining them back to front. I decided to go with one light source coming from behind the character, which would pop out the character more.
I refine the background some more. The objects that are far away just simple shapes with very little detail. They are painted with colors that are very close in value to the sky colors. That makes the objects appear distant. The closer I come to the foreground the more detail I add to create an illusion of depth.
At this stage I decided that I am happy with the background so I started painting guns next. The gun in characters right hand is the closest to the viewer so it needs to be more defined than whatever it is behind it. I added another light source, which is coming from the gunfire blast.
I finished the guns by adding blast fire, highlights, reflected lights and other details. After that I painted the empty shells that were ejected.
I like to save my favorite thing for last so this is where I started painting the character. I paint the clothes following the imaginary light sources. The loosely indicated shadows that I did in my line drawing come in handy for this part. I try to render different materials by adding shadows and highlights that seem appropriate. I also increased the size of the gun blast to make the image more dynamic.
In this step I painted the skin using the reference image and my light sources. After that I put down flat color for hair. I render the hair by painting dark areas first.
After the darker parts of hair are painted I started adding highlights that are coming from different light sources. I added yellow/orange highlights on the left side where yellow light is coming from the gunfire. On the top I add blue coming from the sky. And on the lower right I add some pink highlights. This is probably not accurate but I like to add colors like this because it makes the image more unified and I think it works well with stylized art. I also added reflected lights to the flying shells.
In this step I finished the corset. The corset is made out of synthetic material that is more reflective than other parts of the outfit. I added specular highlights and more reflected lights to make it look shiny. After that I added some more reflected lights and little speckles of light floating around to create an atmosphere around the character. Also, I painted the gunfire blast even bigger because bigger is better. 🙂
In the last step I added smoke, dirt, some more lights and clouds to create a more believable atmosphere. As the finishing touch I added nail polish, lipstick and eye makeup to make the character more appealing.
You can check the final image in high-resolution here (1920x1125px 751kb).