For the most part I tend to treat digital painting just like traditional painting by working on just one layer, in this case with the exception of the foreground plants and the snow. I kept those above the painting, just below a filter of grain that I overlaid on top of the stack. If I use other layers to Multiply or Color Dodge, I work on them till Iâ€™m satisfied and then merge them in with the background.
Next I started fleshing out the environment. Up until this point it doesnâ€™t really matter whatâ€™s going on in the background, as long as the composition works. I changed some rock formations and youâ€™ll notice that a lot of those are being pointed towards her. Itâ€™s important to keep your focal points in mind (Fig.07). Where do you want viewers to look at first? You can guide them there with a few easy tricks:
â€¢ Put your highest contrast where you want viewers to look first. Sure your mountains in the back might be rendered awesomely, but tone them down and focus on whatâ€™s really important. Putting some atmosphere in front of objects can really help too. Subtlety takes the prize.
â€¢ Contrast doesnâ€™t only apply to values. You can create contrast with your use of color too. A warm orange bulb stands out in a cold blue environment.
â€¢ Use your environment. Make plants, rocks, clouds, etc. point to your subject. Not possible? Go over into another line that does point to your subject.
When I was fairly happy with the composition I started coloring it. The big drawback here is that a lot of people (I for one used to have that problem) forget that shadows and highlights can be very colorful. When you use Overlay, Soft Light and Color layers in Photoshop a lot of those subtle colors can get lost. Try to give your shadows a color of their own. Below youâ€™ll notice that the darkest parts are really more warm and purple than they are black. That contrasts nicely with the cold blue in the lighter parts (Fig.08).