Hello, I'm Sara Biddle. I'm a 23 year-old, self-taught digital painter. In this "Making Of" article, I'd like to walk you through the steps in the creation of my image "What a Shame" and share with you some of my thoughts and ideas along the way.
It all started when I found a story outline that I had written previously, hidden away in an unused desk drawer. The story consisted of a girl who had everything she could ever ask for in life. Despite the warning words of others, the temptation of her father's occult obsession led her in the wrong direction, which ultimately brought about her demise. I decided I wanted to capture that moment of guilt she must have faced. I immediately started brainstorming ideas and elements that could bring the painting together. The result was the idea of a seemingly innocent young girl in a white dress with tarot-type cards spilled out on the floor around her.
I began by scribbling out a few simple sketches on paper to get a feel for the subject and to experiment with different poses and ideas. After a few random tests, I found a direction that I really liked and quickly began blocking in shapes and colours with a simple hard-edged round brush in Photoshop. I found flesh coloured tones blended with deep reds and browns to be an appealing colour palette for the image (Fig.01).
For anatomy and lighting reference, I always keep a mirror and a flashlight close to my desk. Though looking back and forth in a mirror is a bit more tedious than snapping a photograph, I find that I learn much more and study closer with this method. After studying my own posture for a while, I decided to change her posture from the original sketch, positioning her more upright and straightforward in hopes that this would make her seem more alert and aware. For the skin, I selected many variating colours of orange and pink and blended them with a spackled brush set to very low opacity. For areas where the skin is thinner, such as the hand and the chest, I lightly brushed in veins using a light ultramarine shade of blue to give the impression of transparency (Fig.02).