Second Plant, Details and Color Temperature
While working further on the plant by adding details and defining the light direction, I decided to add another "calyx". Also I duplicated the plant layer and set it to Soft Light. This is a pretty good way to increase contrast and intensify the colors. I used the number pad to play with the amount of transparency. At this stage I kept all my layers separate - one for the background, one for the background details and one for the plant and the leaves as well (Fig.08).
Color Temperature and Details
I duplicated all the layers and reduced them to one. Now it was time to add more details to the background and foreground as well. I used my custom leaf brush again to add more volume to the bushes. The colors are always picked from anywhere in the image to keep the color theme consistent. On top of that I added some leaves on the trees with the same brush, too. You should always try to repeat elements from your image. Flipping the canvas from time to time refreshes your eye and will give you a different point of view. I also duplicated the plants, and scaled down and moved them to the upper right corner. The newly formed shape of the plant will lead the eye to the center of interest (Fig.09).
Center of Interest - The Lady Pistil
After a while I was happy with the plant, but something was still missing. Something that attracted a man, something inviting... and what attracts a man more than a beautiful woman, with a perfect body shape? (Yeah - sometimes men are simply constructed!) The idea was set and I started to block in the female body shape, again by using my main brush. Keeping the shape simple and using only white contributed to a more mystical style and feeling. Glowing sparks around the female body were also a good way to add some "magic". The sparks were made by a Round brush (with modified settings for shape, jittering and spacing) (Fig.10).
The Poor Dude
Ok, I've got all things set - the environment, the plant, the magical feeling. It was time to work on the poor dude that was supposed to be eaten by the plant. I used again my main brush (set to opacity mode) for the silhouette and the Selection tool for details. I used the same technique as described in my workflow earlier and started painting my main color. For the details I always use a new layer. I tend to erase parts of the main color to get the shadows and only paint in the highlights. This process goes back and forth until I'm happy (Fig.11).
I added a new layer for the atmosphere. The fog was painted with a custom cloud brush set to a big size (up to 1000 pixels). By using the same brush for erasing certain areas on the cloud I was able to get a better cloudy/foggy result. The thought bubble with the heart was just for the fun of it, but I decided to keep it (Fig.12).
I took a short break from painting the image at this point. This is, by the way, another good approach to get a fresh view on your image. After a cup of coffee I found that the overall color mood was too warm and brownish. I really like a high cold/warm contrast in my images so I created a new layer and added a blue radial gradient (top right corner to the middle of the image). The layer was then set to Soft Light and the opacity was set to 40%. I duplicated and flipped the layer. By using the color/saturation filter I changed the blue to a warm orange (Fig.13).
Once again I duplicated all the layers and reduced it to my final layer. A new layer was created for the last final details. I added some more leaves to the foreground (custom brush) and on the trees in the background as well. For the light rays I again created a new layer (20% opacity), painted in some bold yellowish brush strokes and applied the Motion Blur filter. I duplicated the layer, set it to Add and adjusted the opacity. I then flattened the whole layer and made a copy of it. For the glow effect on the sparks and the lady pistil I used the Burn/Dodge tool with a Soft Eound brush (set to opacity mode) (Fig.14).
I hope this tutorial has given you some insight into how I usually work. There are a lot of different techniques and ways to get some great art down on your canvas. But I really think that a good understanding of light and shadow, color theory and paying attention to your composition is key when it comes to creating good art.
I hope this tutorial was helpful and if you have any more detailed questions then don't hesitate to drop me an email.