I often receive questions about my working process when making digital paintings since not many people are familiar with how it all works.  So, I thought I'd add a page with a detailed description of my process to help show all the work that goes into a digital airbrush painting.  I am using my commission for Miss Behavin' Bikhers as an example below.  The final product will be patches for their biker group.

Step 1: Making the Mockup

I start by taking your ideas and reference photos and working with them in Photoshop to create a painting that has good composition and color and add desired elements such as flowers or other background items.  Sometimes we go through many different versions to get the exact right mockup and I often will take reference photos and even do some body modeling to get lighting just right or make up for missing parts of reference photos sent to me.


The bike was given as a reference photo and I needed to find a model to put on it.  This was my first mockup sent and although some of the aspects of it were good, there many things that were off like the size and the type of model which was more girly than desired by this client.

I couldn't find a model wearing the clothes they wanted and in the correct pose so I then set up and modeled for the shot myself with lighting corresponding to the lighting on the bike.

I then took my photo and superimposed it onto the bike.  This still was not quite what was desired so the client sent another reference photo for me to work from.

This photo will be very useable and will only need some minor changes to outfit and hair color.  I decided to go directly to the pencil version from here.  This whole process took 1 week and it is not uncommon to go through many versions of an image before coming upon our final mockup.

Here is the final version we came up with to work from.

Step 2: Pencil Drawing

Once you have approved the digital mockup, I make the pencil drawing. 

And here is the pencil version derived from it.

Step 3: Scanning into Photoshop

I then take the finished pencil drawing and scan it into Photoshop and prepare it at the correct size file for our final output print. 

Step 4: Blocking in the Painting

After changing all the lines to a nice flesh color, I start blocking in all the major areas of color on different layers in Photoshop that will be painted over in detail. 

Step 5: Airbrush Painting in Photoshop

This is the part that takes the longest now.  I begin to slowly and carefully take each area of the painting and use a selector tool to mask off the edges and begin the airbrushing and details. 

Here it is in the middle of the painting process.  Because these are going to be patches the client decided they would like to keep a slightly more cartoony look and leave the outlines on the picture.



Step 6: Final Touches

And here is the finished painting!  That engine detail took a long time and a lot of work but the final product was worth it.


Step 7: Printing and Burning the CD

And here is the final print and cd with invoice and copyright info which is safely packaged up and sent via priority mail to arrive in 2-3 business days.  This whole process has taken a total of 3 weeks.

Thank you to all of my customers for making my job such a pleasure!