I did the hair using the Blender hair system .For the eyebrows and the chin hair I used the face mesh as an emitter and painted vertex groups to give me the rough hair placement. Then I set the hair to editable and used the particle mode to comb it and refine the look (Fig.07).
I created a separate mesh to act as an emitter for the eyelashes. This way their placement was a bit more precise. I then combed them again to archive that eyelash curvature (Fig.08).
For the lighting I searched for inspiration in classical paintings and in portrait photography. Light can invoke some very different moods and really bring the portrait together. I advise you to spend some time here and explore different light setups. It's also very useful to tweak the skin material so that it responds well to the different light setups.
Here are the lighting tests I did (Fig.09).
I ended up using a yellow/blue light setup. The Area light on the left is the blue rim. The Directional on the right is the main light source, a slightly yellow light. On the front is a near white Fill light (Fig.10).
I liked this setup because it gives a nice color contrast without looking to artificial and since the main lights are off to the sides it helps to display the forms of the model. A front light and a less contrasting setup would make the model look flat.
I used several render passes (AO, Reflection, Specular, ID (to mask the eyes) and Beauty) for flexibility and a lower render time; this way I could easily adjust the mixing values and settings with the composite nodes. I saved the AO and Reflection passes as separate files to keep the render times low (and because I was doing a lot of tweak/render/tweak/render this really helped a lot!).
I did a slight color adjustment in the end with the new Blender color balance node to slightly shift the middle tones and harmonize the colors. Here is the final node setup (Fig.11).
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