9Key Painting Breakdown


Hello GGP fans.  I’ve been asked by a few people for a progression breakdown of one of my digital paintings.  So I decided to go ahead and do it.  This particular piece is for the eventual redesign of the website.  Each girl will have their own full-body pinup representing something they love.  For this one, I chose 9Key showing off her graffiti skills.

progressionI always start with pose studies.  I generally have a good idea of the position I want but I still scribble a handful of gesture poses to get the perfect one.  It’s incredibly important not to just jump right in doing detail work or I’ll lose sight of the overall composition.  That may have been the hardest lesson I learned when I first started taking art seriously as a career.  “General to specific, don’t rush into the details.”  That goes for 3D modeling, traditional painting, game building and so on.

p1I picked the gesture I liked and created my line work around it.  This is where I spend a lot of my time getting things right.  I’m especially picky about expressions.  A raised eyebrow or a pouted lip can really change the feeling of an entire piece.

I used the default Photoshop brush with pressure sensitivity and a flat black color.  My gesture process is always quick and messy.  The movement and natural state of the pose is the main goal at this point.  Once I’m happy with the line work I joyously move on to the color.


Flat color comes next.  Hopefully I’ve done my job right, and I now have nice lines to follow.  How fast this step goes greatly depends on the painting.  Each Gamer Girl has her own specific color palette which helps it go quickly.  Often times I can spend hours tweaking the hue slider before I’m happy, so it’s a nice relief to have the colors already chosen.  Each girl also has a different “favorite” color assigned to them which I use as the dominant color in each piece.  9Key’s is green, so I chose a simple green background for now.


Next comes the fun part.  For this piece, I switched to a hard, round brush with a slightly transparent falloff.  I set the Opacity and Flow to about 50% so I can layer and blend the colors easily.  I like the hard edge look of this type of brush as opposed to the overly gradient blurring of the soft, round brushes.  I painted only the shadows at this point. I also increased 9Key’s size a bit to help her fill up the canvas.  Using the same brush with lower Opacity and Flow (about 30%) I added the green spray paint with a many layered pass of small circles.


Next came the background and highlights.  I weeded through my folder filled with tillable brick textures, some I made myself and others I collected, and chose one I liked.  I scaled it behind her and ran a dry brush filter over it to wipe out some of the detail.  I placed a flat grey tone on the ground and added a noise filter for the concrete.  I then darkened the edges of the background and added a green overlay.  The concrete looked too clean so I washed the ground with paint.  (Apparently, 9Key is a messy graffiti artist.)

p5For this next step, I added 9Key’s tag behind her.  I created it to echo her stance and body positioning.  I increased her size again and moved her over to the right while pulling one of the cans into view since it got lost off the canvas.  I also shrunk her feet slightly.  Usually I don’t care as much about the main focus covering parts of the background, but in this case when I kept her in the middle it became hard to understand that the tag was conveying “9Key” without seeing the entire thing.  I also felt the piece was too green so I shifted the background to a warmer red color.

The last pass was all the final bits and details.  I added some additional graffiti to help her tag blend into the background.  The green was still too prevailent and I felt like 9Key herself wasn’t popping from the wall enough.  I used the color balance to eliminate some of the green from 9Key’s skin.  This greatly helped her stand out. I combed over the piece tweaking little things and cleaning up mistakes.  For the final touch I placed gamergirlpinups.com at the bottom and called it finished.

The entire piece took about 5 hours.  It was very fun to do and I’m excited to move on to the rest of the group.


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