Jealous Bodyguard is one of ten pieces for a self promotion project that I am currently compiling called "Companions." Each image within the book refers to people and animals from an imaginary place focusing on the relationships between the human inhabitants and the local wildlife. "Jealous bodyguard" was created with the idea of an animal used for protection as well as companionship for a young, regal, woman. Naturally the thought pattern centred around a creature that was graceful yet fierce led to the idea of a large domesticated cat not unlike a Bengal tiger, fierce but just as capable of affection. Originally the idea was to have the woman portrayed as a sweet, adoring, princess with her loving pet, but when the image didn't spark enough interest amongst my peers I decided to focus on the 'Guard' aspect of the animal. My aim then became to make the animal appear extremely protective without affecting the demeanour of its owner, almost as if its aggressive posture and behaviour were expected. Consequently this led me to shift the woman's appearance just as much. Instead of a serene princess she became a stern beauty just as fierce as her pet. The process I used to make this image is a-typical in how I work, including how I setup the image as well as how I use my Photoshop tools. Anyway without wasting any more time I'll endeavour to explain the breakdown of how this image was created.
Now it may sound weird at first but I only used the one type of brush, the hard edge not for any particular reason nor do I not use other brushes I just fell that this gives me the most control. The only adjustments I make to these settings are to the opacity and flow and in my own case I change the, flow, opacity and size jitters respectively to 'pen pressure' (Fig.01) only because I'm using a Wacom tablet.
If you are using a mouse making the last three changes will have no affect what so ever. I usually sketch out the image I intend to paint by hand, scanning it in as a guide and adjusting the levels to make the lines stand out a bit more (Fig.02).
In this case however I used both my original sketch and added to it in Photoshop. I employ the talents of my associate Samantha (Sam) to act as model for the young woman and base the facial expression and skin tones on hers. (Fig.03). Before I block in any colour I make four separate layers, the bottom being skin, the next being the garments beneath her long dress and finally one for the dress itself.
With Sam's face sketched into the image, and enough separate layers to easily be able to adjust things down the track, I begin the blocking in phase. I settle on an Orange and blue/violet colour (Fig.03) scheme in order to avoid the clichÃ© elegant queen or princess dressed in white flowing garb. I've also established that her cat companion will be a white creature not unlike a white tiger or lion so I've based its skin as beige, this will also help contrast between the two subjects. Concerning her skin tone, the original photo shoot with Sam was in a poorly lit room so some adjustment will be necessary to accommodate the fact that the image is light with sunlight in mind. For now though I simply select the darkest tone of her skin in the photo I selected, in this case the point of deepest shadow was beneath her chin. This allows me to more easily build on her skin tone with white and pink highlights.
Using the hard edge at about 50% opacity I lay down some highlights and darken the shadowed areas of her face. I also make her lips redder to suggest cosmetics of some sort. As I continue this process I am constantly sampling the shades that appear in-between the darker and lighter tones due to how mush pressure I am putting on the stylus. I also block in hair and eyebrows to better adjust the shadows around the eyes and see if the skin colour is heading in the right direction. Once I feel I've created an accurate enough bridge between the light and dark elements of her face I give the whole thing a once over with the smooth tool at 15% opacity to soften her features. Next I add her eyes and darken the edge of the lids to suggest more cosmetics and put a slight highlight to her hair and give the hanging strands some direction with the smudge tool at 20% (Fig.04).