I have been told the gifs are not enough process and that more talky process is required. Also today is the most unproductive day ever, so I might as well do this and feel like I have accomplished something other than drinking too much coffee and eating freezer bagels.
WARNING, MANY WORDS AHEAD. THERE ARE SO MANY I CANNOT COUNT THEM WITH MY FINGERS. MY HORRIBLY MUTATED, NUMEROUS FINGERS.
These are usually from reference because they're mostly for practice (gods know I need it), and because I usually do these in the morning when my brain can't actually think of anything other than 'ugh.' Keep in mind I have no idea what the hell I'm doing at any point in time, and all of this could be the worst process in the world and may in fact cause your IQ to drop by a factor of twelve.
When painting people and not sexy skulls like this one, I tend to spend a fair bit of time with the sketch until I have something I'm happy with. I know some people are able to just lay down a few guides and figure things out as they paint, but if I mess up the proportions on the sketch, everything goes to hell (if you look through all my stuff, whenever something looks weirdly proportioned it's generally because I messed up at this stage). Likeness isn't quite as important as proportions that work well as far as I'm concerned.
I've also laid down my midtone. I tend to choose it slightly darker and more saturated than what I think the actual midtone of the picture would be (so basically I find a proper midtone, then make it darker/more saturated because I am weird like that).
A quick note on the brush: It's not particularly fancy, just one of the default photoshop brushes with the opacity set to pressure, around 85% opacity 70% flow, and a texture enabled in the brush settings (I think in this case it's a rock texture set to Color Dodge). Don't recall if I found it somewhere or made it, but it's pretty easy to replicate.
Also, it's more edges to define the shape, which suddenly give me a much better sense of what the hell it is I'm trying to do. It's not unusual for me to get to this part thinking I have screwed it all up, then sculpt the edges and find out it's sort of maybe kind of okay (the opposite also happens a lot, and then I weep silently for a few minutes).
When painting something like skin, I generally have many more passes of highlights and shadows, where I'll gradually increase the contrast until I get to the desired result (see the old man gif ).
It looks like I did slightly more rendering than I actually ended up doing - in this case I'm letting the brush do a lot of the work for me with its fancy rock texture. I also started detailing some of the smaller edges like the teeth and cracks in the skull.
Once I am sick of detailing things I generally write down how long it took and start flipping it horizontally back and forth trying to make sure I didn't screw up something royally (in case it's unclear, I flip the picture a lot the whole time. I'm a serial flipper. Can't stop flipping).
Also for some reason, I hate zooming in.
I have a pathological need to stay zoomed out. The size of this last picture is basically the size I paint at; this is usually why there isn't that much fine detail. Somehow I end up painting details sort of correctly by making the brush really tiny and guesstimating what I'm doing (yes, I've used the word guesstimating. I am now a felon in 32 states. Also I noticed that auto-correct says guesstimating is an actual word, which fills me with despair).
Once I start zooming in, I lose track of everything and then end up with weird proportions, oddly rendered bits and sometimes a tear in the fabric of space-time.
Here's a gif, because you can't have too many gifs.
Okays, back to coffee and bagels.