08. Populating the background
I move around the background, which keeps my eye fresh and avoids over-detailing of certain areas, and start to add algae, leaves, grass and lilies.
I use a transparent Calligraphy brush to create shapes of green and flowers and add detail with the Detail Oil Brush on 15 per cent Transparency.
I combine large and small strokes for visual variety. This also adds depth to the image.
09. Ophelia's face
I want to depict Ophelia as if she's daydreaming, so I keep her eyes open and suggest she's more alive than dead. I use my base palette of pale skin tones, then add background colours for the shadows.
I paint the eyes, lips and face details with a Detail Oil brush set to a small diameter and on 15 per cent Opacity. I use a medium Wet Acrylic brush for the skin tone and texture.
10. Painting hands
Ophelia's hands are prominent in Millais's art. I decide to place them underwater, but am not happy with the results.
A few photo references of my own help, and I paint the hands with the Calligraphy brush and small highlights with the Detail Oils brush.
I paint a new version of her hands under the old one and add some white and green tints to cover them like a water ripple.
11. Dress making
The clothes are a challenge because a lot of Ophelia's dress is underwater. I paint the corset, capturing its shape and materials with the Calligraphy brush using a mix of skin and water colours.
Then I add folds of materials using the Detail Oils brush on a small diameter. I create drapery shapes that follow the body’s curves. I want the dress to have a fantasy feel to it.
12. Adding volume to the skirt
Pre-Raphaelite artists were adept at using light and shadows to generate a particular mood, and I want to do the same in my image, specifically on the skirt.
I pick the Calligraphy Brush and start to create volume. I work with big strokes, combine pale white, grey and marine blue, and paint quickly, focusing more on the light and shadow interactions on the dress.
13. Finishing touches
A large lily on the dress breaks up the expanse of white, and also acts as a tribute to the original art. It'll be in the foreground so it needs to be full of detail.
I use Calligraphy and Detail Oil brushes on 15-25 per cent Transparency. I paint the leaves and petals with the Wet Acrylic brush. A clear white with 5 per cent Transparency is perfect for water drops on the lily.
14. Smoothing and colour correction
I smooth everything using Painter's Blender tools, relax the shape of Ophelia's lips, and add more glints in her eyes. Then I take the image into Photoshop, duplicate it and set Vibrance to 75 and Saturation to -75.
Then I select Levels and type in 20, 1 and 222. I change the layer mode to Soft Light with Transparency at 14 per cent. My colours are now deep and rich.
Words: Katarina Sokolova
Katarina has been painting digitally since 2000, and has worked in the book illustration, advertising and video game industries. This article originally appeared in ImagineFX magazine issue 112.
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