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Tutorial: Painting a BG style portrait



  • O_BruceO_Bruce Member Posts: 2,667
    I don't know how you can recieve an advice from someone's inferior to yourself, but I'll give it a try.

    The person on the reference is 100% human, but for some reasons I think of a halfling when watching the portrait you made. Pherhaps his head is slightly too big or pherhaps the shoulders are too small (given that they are beneath the armor). Or just my imagination/broken perception is running wild.

    I am unable to spot any anatomy mistakes. I'm not the one to question your choice of colors or technique of coloring you used, since I suck at this.

    Now, general impression. It's not as good as actual in-game portraits, but this is the kind of portraits I could use for my future playthroughts. In short, is good, althought not as good as original BG portraits.

    You are skilled fellow. I envy you, dude. Good luck on your future works.

  • AutequiAutequi Member Posts: 403
    Aedan said:

    Autequi said:

    Aedan is looking very baby-faced

    I laughed when I read this. Actually, people always say that I seem older than I am :)
    That's the magic of Baldurisation, I guess :D

    Anyway, one way of getting a more mature, or defined, look, if anyone's interested:

    Aedan actually has quite strong planes in his face, although the lighting in this photo wasn't the greatest for seeing this. So the first thing to do was increase the contrast. Then, on a new layer, I roughly mapped out the dark and light areas of the face. On another layer, I sketched the important facial structures, so as not to get lost later on while blending. (Trust me, it helps!) On yet another layer, I put down a big peach blob to serve as the base for the portrait.

    Aedan part 1 photo aedan1_zps23b43a12.png

    I don't usually use the Burn tool, but I thought I'd do this the EntropyXII way :) So, using the Burn tool* on the blob layer, I followed the shadow map. See what I ended up with in picture #2? Yeah, not a pretty sight. Don't worry. After 235 hours** of blending with the Smudge tool, checking against the photograph layer, adding more Burn, checking, blending, checking, lightening, checking, Burning, checking, blending, rinse/lather/repeating, I ended up with #3. Finally, I did some contrast/brightness/saturation adjustments and turned Aedan into Hulk***.

    Aedan part 2 photo aedan2_zps8aac8f4f.png

    *for the record, I Burned and Smudged with varying sizes of either a round soft-edged brush or a round hard-edged brush

    **fewer if you are actually competent at painting, unlike me


  • EntropyXIIEntropyXII Member Posts: 656
    @Autequi - Aha! Yes, I see what you mean! I didn't actually use the original photograph as a base - I layered a trace and then started painting in grey-scale. I probably missed this because after i got the 'main' features drawn, I didn't bother with the original photograph again. I'll see if I can do a quick edit tonight and upload the changes.

    See, this is why I ask for advice and criticism - others spot things I miss. When I stare at a painting for way to long I start to get tunnel vision. #reasonsimanamateur

    @ZelgadisGW - Thanks for the nice comments =) Criticism might make me a better painter but it's nice words like these that keep me painting.

  • AutequiAutequi Member Posts: 403
    I debated about posting this because a) I don't want to sound preachy and b) I don't know what your goals and background are as an artist. But I feel I have to caution against over-reliance on tracing. Sure, it's okay for Baldurizing photos, but it doesn't teach you how to make your own stuff. To understand why shadows and highlights lie the way they do, and to use that understanding to simulate dimension, you really need to study how a face is constructed and how lighting works. That means studying anatomy guides and forms in real life. Reading tutes and hanging around art critique forums can be pretty eye-opening (but also time-sinking; exercise with caution).

    Just wanted to put that out there. *gets off soapbox*

  • EntropyXIIEntropyXII Member Posts: 656
    @Autequi - Oh no, I can draw/paint well and good my own characters. If not better. I tend to use a lot of inks for my hand work - digital art was new to me, but I am getting there. There's quite a bit of my original stuff littered about these forums. My aim for these particular portraits were to use real models either from these forums, or from people I knew. In many ways I guess I just wanted to give people something I craved since I first played BG: A portrait with their own face in the same style as BG/BG2. Hopefully @Aedan @alannahsmith @jakaminski are happy with theirs thus far.

    In regards to tracing... I think I used the wrong word. You will see what I mean through my tutorial at the beginning of this topic. It is more of quick outline sketch to give myself a reference. I find that without something to reference I deviate too much from what the original model looks like - which kind of defeats my purpose for doing this in the first place. Whereas I could constantly flick back and forth between the photograph and the painting, I find this tedious and time consuming. Cutting corners perhaps, but I work a full time job on top of this.

  • AutequiAutequi Member Posts: 403

    @Autequi - Oh no, I can draw/paint well and good my own characters. If not better. I tend to use a lot of inks for my hand work - digital art was new to me, but I am getting there.

    Oh good; I don't have to lie awake nights worrying I had a hand in stunting someone's artistic growth! XD

    I pretty much use pencil for all my handwork... very little painting. It's been tough switching from a drawing mindset to a painterly one. (Figuratively my mind was blown!) Dealing with colors is difficult also, especially when trying to make realistic skin. It seems to me that color mixing on the computer is quite different from how we do it by hand, since my attempts to mix in warm or cool hues usually end up looking like mud, or like something from an alien planet. Burning/dodging removes that drama, but to me the resulting colors look flat and boring.
    In regards to tracing... I think I used the wrong word. You will see what I mean through my tutorial at the beginning of this topic. It is more of quick outline sketch to give myself a reference. I find that without something to reference I deviate too much from what the original model looks like - which kind of defeats my purpose for doing this in the first place. Whereas I could constantly flick back and forth between the photograph and the painting, I find this tedious and time consuming. Cutting corners perhaps, but I work a full time job on top of this.
    I was really talking about my earlier post with the shadows, not your reference sketch. No need to feel apologetic about cutting corners though. I mean, this is about personalizing a computer game, not creating a masterpiece for posterity (although even Rembrandt likely used tracing).

  • EntropyXIIEntropyXII Member Posts: 656
    @Autequi - All I had as a kid were a couple of nice ink pens and some A4 sheets of printing paper. It sounds quite sad when I read that last sentence back, but I have to be honest: I miss it. It is very liberating to not have to go through so many technological hoops, but alas times are changing.

    One thing I do owe to my 'training' so to speak, is my uncanny ability to draw without messing up. A side effect of not being able to use an eraser I suppose xD

    One thing I would like to know in regards to be digital artwork is whether or not I'm getting better. I spent quite a bit more time on the last portrait than I did the others. I also have a brand spanking new computer which essentially removes all the lag I used to get in art programs. Am I heading in the right direction, at a stalemate, or going backwards somewhat?

    Link to all portraits in order:

  • DaylightDaylight Member Posts: 14
    edited August 2013
    Hi @EntropyXII

    I made a fast and rough portrait by using your art and Aedan's photo. I hope I haven't stepped on anyone's toes, I needed to rewind a little bit and decided to give it a shot :)

    Here's the "final" sketch result in black and white:

    Here's a picture of different "work" stages with portrait if interested.

    It really doesn't explain how I did it, 'cause I usually go with "gut" feeling. But I hope it helps you a little bit. I didn't try to make it look like BG2 portraits, more of BG1 ones.

    If either of you or @Aedan feel offended that I have used your assets I can remove the pictures from here and from my imgur account right away. Just write it in this discussion and it shall be done in a day. Sorry beforehand if I have done something stupid ;)

    Post edited by Daylight on
  • AedanAedan Member, Translator (NDA) Posts: 7,989
    Do whatever you want with my face :)

  • EntropyXIIEntropyXII Member Posts: 656
    edited August 2013
    @Daylight - Not at all. I really appreciate the tips. How did you get the textured skin? What technique did you use? It seems like everything I do, from: larger 'step' bigger brushes, soft edges, textures brushes - I just can't seem to get it right. I can't explain it but it looks off. I try to do it freehand but then the texture gets lost somewhat.

    I have a feeling it may be that I use Paintshop Pro x5 instead of Photoshop. I despise blaming tools but I can't seem to think of anything else other than it's limitations. I'm also not a fan of the Photoshop UI. I'd love to see what you can do with the portrait of my assassin.

    Also, thanks for the compliment about my armour. I think that's my saving grace in all my portraits =)

    Also: Really really really good work. The more I look at what you have done with my portraits the more I like it. The texture, hair, everything.

  • AutequiAutequi Member Posts: 403

    Ok, I'm not good at critiquing. But to me, the extra work you put into the latest portrait really shows. The modeling on Aedan's face looks more dimensional and realistic. Compare his nose to Jak's nose, for instance. Or his jawline to elf chick's. His features look like they have volume throughout, not just on the edges. (Does that make any sense?)

    And for the record, all I had growing up were lined looseleaf paper and #1 pencils (couldn't afford #2s)! :D

  • AutequiAutequi Member Posts: 403

    Why grayscale, if I may ask? I thought the color version was looking good.

  • EntropyXIIEntropyXII Member Posts: 656
    edited August 2013
    @Autequi - I realised after I posted up the tutorial for Jak, how I messed up on a number of things. I think I concentrated a little too much on the tutorial that i forgot some key points. I didn't want to say it really (out of shame) but I forgot to gaussian blur the purple/blue lighting and then decrease it's opacity for the blending. It really stands out and it bugs me. As I lost all my full sized artwork I cannot change it either. Urgh!

    I understand about the nose - I had this idea in my head of where the lighting would be coming from (magical hands etc) and even when I knew it wasn't going well, I refused to change it. At least I now know for future pieces.

  • ZanianZanian Member Posts: 329
    Awesome work as always, but I have to agree with @ZelgadisGW. He really looks like a halfling. So much so, that I didn't say anything about it earlier, because I thought he was supposed to be one. He's a good-looking halfling. =)
    It's the little things (excuse the pun), such as the small neck, the wide forehead, very distinct facial features and... either it's because of an unfortunate cut-off with the armor, or his head really is too big for his body.

    Let's see...I would've liked a bit more texture in the hair, so 80% of it isn't just pitchblack. That would definitely help with realism.

    Your armors look awesome as always, and your skin texturing is improving (again, wouldn't mind more blemishes though. Try and paint a real ugly person (an original, otherwise that would be rude ^^), so you can really go wild with warts, pockmarks, wrinkles etc. I think it'll help in the long run).

    Also, the fur is perfection. Is it just a lot of smudging? Because it just looks so real.

  • DaylightDaylight Member Posts: 14
    edited August 2013
    @Autequi I was playing around and trying to do fast sketch. It's far easier add or change details with other one's work or photo in grayscale. The portrait was never meant to be a finished portrait, I was only trying to give tips for EntropyXII.

    @EntropyXII Thanks for compliments, even though it's really rough :)

    Sorry about late answer. I made a picture of trying to replicate how I did my sketch. There's quite a bit of nonsense rambling and typos (don't take heed), was late when I made it and I also was trying to remember different stages the sketch went through. Remember it was mostly done as rough speed sketch, so I don't know how it would work if you tried to used it to make a finished portrait. But it may give you ideas.

    Without further ado:

    It shouldn't be because of application. After having checked Paintshop Pro x5, it really doesn't different that much from Photoshop. Photoshop has some different default brushes, different default filters and few different options etc. But Paintshop has all the "basic" tools needed to do the same kind of results as with other paint programs. I just started draw with Photoshop first, 'cause it was the program which was used in school back at the day. It took awhile, normally I had been drawing "manually", to get used to it. When I finally realized that digital painting program was mostly "lazy" man's handy tool, it significantly got easier :) If you are having fun while drawing it just takes time until digital painting feels same as "normal" drawing and that way results will also get better.

    I mostly use default brush with 0% hardness and tweaked flow setting, eraser and smudge tool with custom tip (different shaped dots) and most importantly with pen pressure on. So I'm not the person to be asked how I do some skin or any kind of texture, 'cause I just go with flow while drawing normally. I may even sometimes get crazy and draw every single strain of hair, if it suits my purpose ;)

    Some other artists that I know use mostly custom brushes and make new ones if needed or tweak brush settings. And their main tool is custom "paint knife" tipped brush, 'cause some of the professional artists use it and they say it gives more freedom than default brush.

    I changed the portrait a little bit and did it a little bit more in my own drawing style. It's still rough sketch, so it looks a bit off; ear is missing, shadows aren't exactly right, the head is misshaped, armor is blurred and unfinished, I made background with one of my old work etc. I just wanted relax a little bit and don't really have the time at the moment to do a finished one ;) The colored version is just to check how colors could look like and was quickly done with color layer. I'm not happy with the result but it was just sketch and I was playing around quite a bit, so no worries.

    Hope I have been helpful :)


    @Aedan I made some quick changes to the portrait. I used your photo and EntropyXII work after all. So I wanted to give you heads up.

    Post edited by Daylight on
  • EntropyXIIEntropyXII Member Posts: 656
    @Zanian - The fur was a mixture of black, cream, grey and white, which I painted on in a kind of rainbow shape to start things off. I set the smudge brush to about 80% and went to town on the colours. I wasn't so sure I should do it at first as I figured it may be too time consuming to implement - however, I am a sucker for realism and such a large shoulder pad would have required fur, or another form of cushioning to keep mobility to a maximum.

    Once again, thank you for the compliments about my armour =) For this particular portrait I studied the Valygar and Yoshimo portraits to gain a better understanding of painting 'rugged' leather. I think I came out of it learning a thing or two.

    I agree in many ways about the 'halfling' look about the portrait. I think I lost something when I had to chop down the original painting so it was the right size for BG. See below:


    As you can see, Aedan looks broader in the full image, which is likely why I didn't consider the effect it would have once I clipped him down for the final draft. I think I'll take the advice given on here when I have some spare time and accentuate his cheekbones - which I admittedly neglected a little.

    @Daylight - Thank you for the detailed work you put into that. You have given me some excellent tips which I appreciate =)

    I wonder if there is a way we can merge this thread with my other thread about art tips - some excellent advice on here! xD

  • EntropyXIIEntropyXII Member Posts: 656
    I have done an edit of the Aedan portrait (below) - Tried to take on as much advice as possible. What do you guys think? Better? @Daylight @Autequi @Zanian

  • DaylightDaylight Member Posts: 14

    Looking better. But the portrait still has too much of child face. Easy way to me explain it is to make quick sketch by using your new work from the other thread as template. I tried to make it more BG2 style using Anomen's portrait as reference. Hope it helps.


  • EntropyXIIEntropyXII Member Posts: 656
    @Daylight - I had grown frustrated with my druid portrait. It seemed I had hit a mental block of sorts! I appreciate the advice however, and I will come back to it in the future.

    I have just uploaded a new portrait. I had to sketch this one by hand as my friend (the girl in the image) didn't have any decent photos - only crappy, tiny facebook images.

    In turn, I am actually incredibly pleased with how it turned out! I had a lot more freedom and thus I think I will use this technique from now on.

    I still have some work to do I suppose, but not too far off now I think.

    What do you guys think? Better?

    @Zanian @Autequi @ZelgadisGW

  • ZanianZanian Member Posts: 329
    Definitely your best one so far. Golly have I been waiting for you to step a bit back from the glossy action figure skin, and move closer to realistic skin texture. (Nice work with the pink there.) A huge improvement I say.

    The blurring of the teeth is fine, although you might want to check up on the upper part of the row of teeth, ie at the gums. (Erase/darken the white bit that makes it look glowy). You might also want to remove some of the shading underneath the nose, since I think it makes it look a bit too droopy. It could just be that you forgot where the lighting is coming from. =) I do see a few contradictions.
    Very very minor things I have for this one.

    Only thing I'd really like changed, is the hair. It's too.... thick/blurry, for a lack of a better term. I'd like you to look at your portrait of Alannah again. The bit that's highlighted has that perfect texture of small details. You don't have to be able to distinguish every single strain of hair, but as it is now, it sort of breaks away from the realism you've managed to attain with the face.

    All in all, a massive step forward. Kudos.

  • EntropyXIIEntropyXII Member Posts: 656
    @Zanian - Thanks mate. it was actually because of your earlier advice I went a couple of steps further in trying to get the skin right!

    Many of my earlier portraits had black/dark brown hair and thus, skill in drawing hair was never truly a necessity. Alannah's hair was actually quite easy, because I could concentrate on just a small section. Truthfully, when faced with blonde hair I hadn't a clue what to do. I tried my best to emulate the hair of Yoshimo and Haer'Dalis and came out with a strange amalgamation of the two. I agree, the hair does look a little.. let's say.. stuck on - but when trying to recreate the BG2 style I was at a loss. There is detail on the BG2 portraits, but not the fine haired detail that would make them look realistic.

  • ZanianZanian Member Posts: 329
    You're welcome.
    The best advice I can give on hair, is to thin out and increase the amount of the strands, and make all the thin strands (the ones covering her face for instance) semi-transparent.
    At the moment it looks like a plastic wig with a few curly wurlies here and there. You could try and use the smudge tool at 1x pixel, and just go to town with a bunch of quick swipes, and then tidy it up after. Although your best bet is still to paint them more or less individually.

    And for the BG2 portraits... yeah, they could use some work too. =) It does work with the style though. Just like yours did before with the glossy plastic skin. "But with great realistic skin, comes great realistic hair."

  • EntropyXIIEntropyXII Member Posts: 656
    @Zanian - I am going to use that as my signature =D

  • AutequiAutequi Member Posts: 403
    That's looking pretty good! The shading is definitely improved.
    FWIW here are my suggestions.

  • EntropyXIIEntropyXII Member Posts: 656
    Hey @Autequi - I think it's too small. I can't see your suggestions very well :-/

  • AedanAedan Member, Translator (NDA) Posts: 7,989
  • AutequiAutequi Member Posts: 403
    Hey, did you try clicking on it? Or does that work only for the person who posts the image?

  • DeefjeDeefje Member Posts: 110
    Hey, I've been fiddling around with Photoshop for the first time since literally 10 years (and I never was any good) Anyhow I made this pic (my avatar, click to enlarge) and was thinking of making more npc portraits like this.

    Kinda thought that perhaps the 'drawing on a scroll' thing would do something for atmosphere considering photos are kinda awkward in a fantasy setting.

    Think it would be appreciated? I just did Minsc out of randomness, and because his bg1 npc always reminds me of my uncle Bert... but that's a different story.

  • DrugarDrugar Member Posts: 1,566
    That's actually pretty nice! Though possibly confusing if all NPC portraits are in that style. At a glace, it'll be hard differentiating between them.

  • AutequiAutequi Member Posts: 403
    I like this style. The picture would be easier to understand, though, if you darkened the lines and made the scroll effects less pronounced.

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