Garden - Digital Painting Process

Welcome to a post about how I did a thing! In this case, how I painted this romantic little garden scene! I don’t have the very first sketch of this piece, because I ended up in the zone (also known as continued working until the sketch stopped annoying me…), and this is the first saved image in the process.

Messy, messy sketch phase.

Lately I’ve been working up sketches in black and white rather than just line work. It makes it easier to see what’s happening as well as what’s working. And what’s not.

By this stage, I was very happy with the characters, the arch and wall. But I wasn’t sure what to do with the garden behind them or the flower bushes on either side. And lighting was still a mystery at this point. But there was enough for me to happily continue with this piece.

I should mention that the goal for the painting was for a romantic scene in a beautiful garden. It makes life easier when there’s a definite goal to work towards, and it helps to keep things on track. Sometimes it’s easy to get distracted by one element of a painting and forget the overall theme or idea in the process. Even just thinking about it being a romantic scene was enough to keep things on track.

Yay, colour!!

And here we have a bit of a jump forward, and I definitely didn’t save more process images because I simply forgot to stop and do it…but look, pretty colours!!

By this point, I’d figured out a pretty sunset kind of feel for the overall lighting and blocked in everything.

I looked at a bunch of references for formal gardens and loved the ones with water in them. Reflections are always cool! I just had to make sure it remained a bit subdued and not take away the focus from the couple.

The flowers weren’t working for me at this stage, and I ended up painting over them. They were okay here, but a bit too chunky and the leaves weren’t working for me either. They were supposed to support the main figures not be distracting.

Green grass and better flowers on the right!

In the interest of keeping the background subdued, it ended up being too dull. So I repainted the grass and a few of the leaves on the walls.

Then I decided to wanted to change the canvas size to appear similar to a book cover. Guess what? That meant I had to extend the background and paint in extra stuff all around the edges, yay! It wasn’t really a big deal, just annoying that I didn’t settle on the canvas size first.

Pro tip: Figure out your canvas size first! Makes life much easier.

Normally I plan ahead better than that, but full disclosure, I started this painting LAST year. As in, months ago. It was going to be part of a painting challenge on YouTube, but I had a bunch of things happen in real life and couldn’t finish it. Then I lost interest in it for a while (…months).

But with the new year, I looked back through my works in progress folder and decided to finish it. I’m focusing on more book cover style work right now, so most of my illustrations will be sized that way.

Oh, also, I repainted the flowers on the right and was much happier with this style! And toyed with the idea of a climbing plant on the arch.

Flowers and more colour!

Look, look! Wisteria on the arch! Kind of… I wanted to give the feel of wisteria (because I love those dripping purple flowers!), but not paint every little petal in detail. It was the same with the roses, they just had to have the appearance of roses with only a few brush strokes.

I just wanted to be sure the background supported the figures and not overwhelm the viewer with too many sharp details. So, I painted most of it with a larger brush and left all the fine details for the couple.

Plus, I probably would’ve gone crazy painting every single leaf and petal in this scene.

Now all that’s left to do is to finish up the figures (and finally give this poor guy some legs!), and some final touches to the overall painting!

He has legs!

And here’s the final painting!! I love working this way and really love painting plants and things! You can expect to see a lot more plant life in my work.

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