I open this update with some suggestions and showcasings, like the gorgeous gallery of , a thrice blessed model with a lovely and gentle figure, incredible and stunningly acute modelling and acting skills to grant you a whole range of poses and inspiring expressions, and a gallery that showcases models as inspiring as her. Or the stock gallery, where you can find the finest mermaid tails ever, or , a brilliant artist and a hound for the best marvel of nature, to use and employ in granting life to your dreams. Or , DDed because he's really good, and his galley worth a million faves. There's then , whose creation are able to break the boundaries of standard digital art, and her detailed stockpacks, , and their common items turned into parts of your art. Like the photos of , the backgrounds of and the textures of and There are many stock artist to thank, that's just for beginning... As you saw now, using the slight stop&go in my everyday academic duties broght to me by some local holiday I taught myself some photomanipulation. To that, I must thank and for their encouragement and counseling. In fact was ever present in my very first manips, goofier than the still, I think, open-to-improvement learning tinkerings of today, and had to listen me in the long nights when inspiration kicked in, answering even to my most moronic questions (something on the line on "Shima, do you know if the most common monitor in Deviant homes is the standard 15", the standard 17" or the 17" 16:9... no, 'cause I know an accountant with a cinematic 16:9 so...") to keep me company and good counseling. Thank you Shima, it was truly appreciated. I want to share with you the things I taught by myself. I don't pretend to write a tutorial, in fact I cannot, I don't know how, and I don't deserve to write it, and my "teachings" will seem to more experienced ones a silly collection of misconceptions and kludges. But at least it's a start. You know, I'm not a real artist. is. is. I'm not. If you're reading this, and not the tutorials offered by real artist like , maybe you're feeling a bit blue yourself. But don't worry, I'm not an artist myself. If you watch the anime Naruto, a very common fanfavourite, you can compare my position in confront of a at the relationship between Naruto, the main character, and Rock Lee, one of the comprimaries. Naruto is a natural: he has unlimited supplies of spiritual energy, he's kinda the hotheaded hero, he does what he wants, and he can, and he does good. Rock Lee is the common guy: he has a friend who sees through things, and in a world in which even 10 yrs old have amazing powers, he's just a guy in a jumpsuit that does cool kung fu moves. But he just keeps going, and exerting himself, so he does by careful studies and lots of training almost the things Naruto does. He's nothing like him, but he's happy of doing his very best. That's my position, that's what I hope for you, if you don't believe in yourself. Never ever let your lack of experience stand between you and your dreams.
So... some random suggestions
* Pick up carefully your stock, but give yourself the advantage of suprise
That's simple: If you've got a concept in mind, search for something can express it. Do you envisioned in your mind a pretty lady holding a picture of a distant past? So, search a woman holding a sign... but if you found her in a gallery, and you find other interesting pictures, note down whethever they can inspire you
* Brain is a buggy supercomputer, use it in your favour
Rummaging in my gallery, you'll find the lovely giving her face to a cute mime, with her pasty faced looks and a cute little heart to 'tell' you what she feels. Giving the mime her makeup was more difficoult to think that to do. You know, have you ever seen a mime giving herself makeup? She just applies some white, gooey stuff to bleach her face, than makeup herself.
I think God as a sysadmin, working with what he/she had. So he just put in out brain some subroutines. For a man or a woman white is just "the absence of colours", so, if you can't actually apply makeup to a lady, use the "level" function to take a snip of her face, than toy with the "colour" and "contrast" menu to carefully alter the colours of her skin, without smothering the texture of her face.
Same thing applies to makeup: what's makeup if not a layer of paint applied to a pretty face? taught me a clever trick: create a transparent layer over a face, or nails, than apply with the "airbrush" just a shade of the colour you wanted over the eyes. Then smudge them with the smuge tool, the one resembles a finger... even the classiest ladies sometimes use fingers to fix some details. You may erase the details way too smudgy with the eraser, but it will be helpful using the "fuzzy" pencil to do the trick. If it seems just a little bit smudgy don't overdo... I'll tell you later
* Use a lot of levels
A good artist can do the best with the right amount of level. A learning one must, at least at first, keep a level for everything. Personally, I keep a level for the background, a level for the main character, a level for eventual modifications to his/her body, a level for makeup if present, and a level for every items. When applying a texture, sometimes I use levels to fragment the laying off the texture in different points of the intended part of the picture. So, if you mess something, just erase. If some levels, like the textures one, become complete, you may merge them, and keep working with the others. Then you can merge them all, doing the final touches and export
* Be very careful with details
Mind may be a buggy computer, but it's a naggy one. Don't take shortcuts. If you're going to add a mirror image of your character, like some classy lady looking at her reflection in a mirror, remember to put in the frame not only the mirror image of the lady, but, if it's applicable, and if you want to put it, a _mirror image of the portion of background behind the lady_, even if not really so precise. Just laying the same background even behind the mirror frame could bring to a little "incongruence". Brain will not register it at the moment, but your viewers would feel something "itchy and wrong".
If you're laying a texture on background, no problem. If you're laying a non-organic texture on a body, it should be fine. If it's organic, be careful: my suggestion, if your model is posed on a very "lively" motion, like with arms folded at various angles, a tilted head and an angled torso, divide your model at least in six parts: left and right leg, left and right arm, torso and face (if hands and feet are really tilted, do the same things), and apply the textures on different level, following the "main direction" in which the limbs are folded. You'll give the same impression that organic skin does.
* Rationalize your character
I take myself as an example, not because I'm a vain loudmouth, but because I know my mind well. For example you want to create a mermaid. Do some brainstorming. The one gave me: scaly skin because she's a pretty fishy maiden, ocean tones because a "rosso corsa" red mermaid would attract every sort of mermaid-killer sharks and some evil dudes and stuff, and shells as buckles and jewelry, because the average little mermaid has not a "Funkyland shop" to buy inexpensive jewelery, but she lives under the sea.
You may for example think ad at a fairy as essentially a petite creature, because she doesn't need to be strong to fly, and she has to be lightweight, always barefoot because she rarely walk, vain but covered in leafs and stuff
That will help you in categorize and accessorize your creation.
Think at his/her emotion and story too
* Don't forget prospective!!
Remember: the farther something is, more little and slightly "confused" becomes. So, scale it, and toy a bit with the "opacity" and the contrast/light effects (you remembered to put every item on a different level, don't you)? Some more transparency, but _never exagerate_ or it will become some sort of freaky ghost can be expected to represent the underwater or misty ambients, were water filters light. Toy slightly with colouring and light in every other cases, but look carefully at the monitor, eventually with only the background and main characters levels around to check the final effects.
* Black and White is your friend
You found a lovely photo of a mode. Alas, she gave you a sepied photo, and you think with green eyes she'll be so pretty. Copy her eyes in another level, made them in tones of grey, then use the sliders that GIMP and Photoshop have to choose her colours. From grey to colour your inexperienced (as mine) eyes will follow the colouring until you'll find the right one
* Applying makeup: part two
So you may want to know everything I learnt about makeup: you may freshen the lipstick of your model by copypasting her mouth from the main level to a new level, and balancing the colour, just it, in a different way. Then, cancel the skin you copypasted in excess.
On the same level, you may do the same thing to change the colour of her pupils. Then airbrush her eyeshadow, if you want.
If her mouth seems a bit smudgier on the edges, or her eyeshadows a bit imperfect, be careful without trimming and perfecting: for a classy girl, correcting will be a good thing. But a mime would be interesting in making her mouth really big, for example
* "Imperfections* are life
Your model has a tatoo. Or a skin blemish.
Well, think well before removing. It adds he/she character. Would you redub Robin Williams because he talks "faster than you thought", or refuse Monica Bellucci a role in which she's otherwise perfect only because "she has a funny accent"? No? Then ask to yourself... would my model be more perfect with an uncrooked nose, or just a "commoneer?" Would my model be more perfect with less tatoos, or she'd lost part of her glamour?
* Always read the journals, respect the rules
Models and stock artist deserves your respect. So, give them plenty.
Then, writer's block, or artist's one, is a bit*h. So your muses could help you in more than a a way. If your model writes on his/her journal some suggestion, you may grab it. You'll be happier. Both of you.
That were my two cents... If I'm wrong in something, please, correct me. If you liked it... I liked working with you, I like this place