This is not a tutorial but a walkthrough of my process for Warrior Princess. I used a different approach on this from my other works because I don't color paper sketches anymore ever since my scanner got broken and had a tablet . I used Photoshop CS3 for painting this.
The SketchThis sketch was taken with a camera so it's a bit distorted. I drew it almost 2 or 3 month ago with a ball point pen on a bond paper. I have a lot of pencil works but I'll upload them when I get a new scanner.
I cut the character and lowered it's opacity to about 50% and under I put a block of light gray to get a good contrast on the character lines and rid off the grainy textures. Now it's good for painting the background.
Flats and Base Colors
I've decided the mood to be warm so I filled the background layer with orange and I used a big brush to add some yellow hues. For the foreground layer I adjusted the color by tweaking the Hue/Saturation with colorizing turned on. I chose yellow-brown to compliment with the warm background.
Painting the Background
Before I paint the foreground elements I always start with the background so I can establish the lighting and also it's easier for me to choose colors to make the foreground blend with the background. I also looked on reference to make sure I'm doing right. I used soft brush for the clouds and I also added some blues and purples to make a sunset mood. On this stage I was thinking of adding ocean for the background so I added highlights by making small horizontal strokes to make details that look like water. I also used a point perspective to help me with the composition though I admit I haven't mastered it yet. And lastly on a separate layer I drew some element aligned in the point perspective to make the picture more interesting.
Painting the Character
On characters I always start with the eyes simply because it's boring to start anywhere else like hands or hair.
Also starting with the eye makes an interesting effect on the character early on. Some people use a lot of flat colors and use a lot layers, for me I like working on fewer layers and I start with single flat color and sometimes I only use single layer. I think it's more fun and natural. I changed the water and added forests, I want her to look like she's on top of a mountain or a cliff.
For the color of the character I chose yellow for hair, blue for eyes, and green for her outfit, gold and bronze for the ornaments which all compliment with each other. I used warm colors on the areas where the light hits and on the shadows which fades to purple or gray rim highlights. On this stage I spent a lot of time on her face to make her look more feminine and attractive also because of the distortion I have to fix the face proportions.
More Coloring, Details and Background Elements
I just continued on coloring the whole character, going back and forth on the face. I also painted the castle I drew earlier on a separate layer, I used hard brush on the cliffs. I chose warm hues of colors to blend it in.
More Details and Contrast
The character has complete colors and I just added more details both on the character and background. Also I defined the contrast of the character even more. I also added birds on the lower right of the background so it won't look too empty and make the picture more interesting.
More Details and Finalizing
Some armor upgrade lol. So I thought her earlier outfit was too bare So I just added more elements to make her look ready for battle. I added armor plating on the chest area and I also added chain plate tasset on her hips which is decorated with belt and a curved dagger. I also made the backround softer by adding low-opacity light color and strengtened the contrast of the character to make her standout from the background.
Final piece. I just tweaked a few values, soften areas that should look soft and added more textures. I also added a lighting effect. I framed it to make the composition better and lastly I signed it and added my seal on it. As you can see it gradually changed in each stage. I don't necessarily follow the sketch when I know I can make it better, I do it for my personal work and if it's my own sketch, but for other artists lineart, I must follow the drawing strictly to give respect on the artist. Probably spent 20hrs for this in total, I'm not sure. Hope you like! :)