Melanie Delon shows you how to create our s enchantingly beautiful cover image… h ti l
aeries are one of the best known inhabitants of the fantasy realm, frequently depicted in art and books. Knowing the subject is important, but as this is fantasy you can do whatever you want with the basic faerie design. Here, I’ll go for a very classical style: my faerie will be naked with dragonfly wings, set against a background of a large, magical forest. My main faerie will be brought a gift by another, smaller faerie. I usually don’t think too much about the concept, I prefer to let it unfold while painting, which to me makes it more personal. But if you need some help finding your subject, it’s a good idea to do a little sketch on paper. I don’t focus too much on details at this stage; these elements can be added later. Another thing which is important is the story, and what you want to show in your


Melanie Delon
COUNTRY: France Melanie is a freelance illustrator based in Paris. She likes to paint beautiful dreamy fantasy characters. Her past clients include Norma Editorial.

DVD Assets
The files you need are on your DVD in the Melanie Delon folder in the Workshops section. SOFTWARE: Painter X, Photoshop CS3 (demos)

painting. I always try to draw the viewer’s eyes to a specific element of the piece, and that element will be more detailed, or brighter than the rest of the painting. Also, when I work on a “classical” theme such as this, I try my best to bring something special or unusual to it to give it more of a personal touch and unique twist. This can be a single detail, or a funny colour scheme, for example. I always do a lot of research for the character’s anatomy and for the background. Because faerie folk have an essentially human form, I search for anatomy photo references. It’s the best way to learn anatomy properly and avoid mistakes.

B Before starting the painting, I always devise i a colour scheme. I’ll stick to this throughout the painting process, adding new tones or changing a few as I go. Here I choose a greenish brown for the base of the background, with some red, and saturated green for all the


Colour scheme
leafage. The character will be colourful with some orange, pink and tender yellow. As you can see on the face concept (right), I just lay down in big blocks, colours. The yellow/green will be for the eyelids and the lips will be very red, a cherry-like colour, making them very appealing.

N Now I work on the sketch, placing the character and all the key elements, such as the little faerie with the gift. I always do this step with both a hard Round brush and a custom one, with a big diameter. I’m still not focusing on details here, instead doing the illustration as a huge block, like in sculpture. You don’t need to do the sketch on a huge canvas, a smaller one is better, and you can resize it when you are satisfied with the composition and want to start detailing.


Concept sketch


November 2007

UNI23.tut_faerie 68

6/9/07 09:33:42

In depth Painting a faerie scene UNI23.tut_faerie 69 6/9/07 09:33:58 .

I choose some very saturated colours. I also start to work on the forest. I always try to put two i lightsources. For the crown. H Her body needs some adjustment. so I decide to change it a bit. I often flip the canvas horizontally. 4 The light I decide that the previous composition is too boring. adding more background on the left side. 5 Final composition 6 The face Now it’s time to refine the face. adding the tree trunks and the branch in the foreground to balance the scene more. but the main one is a custom brush. which helps me to find any little anatomy issues and correct them quickly. I want them to be almost transparent and iridescent. 7 R Refining the anatomy 70 November 2007 UNI23. not too dark and not to bright – midtones are perfect. It’s easier to work the shading with neutral tones as a base. her eyes will be dark. very useful to add softness and texture to the skin. Free transfor m Here I start to sketch the first H details. and I usually go with my gut feeling. so don’t hesitate to add some ‘empty’ space around her if you think this will be a good thing for the composition. and use the Blur tool to blur the result. a main one.Workshops Ctrl/Cmd+T Use this to mo dify the size of a selected area or a full layer. which will come from the forest. so I the resize and erase some parts. I also finish the blending with a Spackled brush. It’s important to let the character breathe. and sparkling. more diffuse. Again it’s more dots of colour than real painting. Here I choose two primary colours – blue and yellow – for the light. and a second one. I want my faerie to be happy. which here will come from the gift. always in big blocks. 3 Sketching the details Finding the light source is really F important. but also proud. because I want the whole piece to be very colourful. t arm and the hands are too big. giving the main faerie a flower crown. The eyebrows are made with a Spackled brush.tut_faerie 70 6/9/07 09:34:05 . right cli ck upon it to enable you to flip the element. I use a lot of brushes to blend and add details. Light colours are pretty hard to explain. I also start the wings.

and a funny haircut. and don’t paint each leaf one by one. and some wild branches here and there with a basic Round brush. I use a Spackled brush to paint little veins on the branch. so I decide to make them look more like a cartoonish doll than a real woman. It’s good idea to create a custom brush with a few painted leaves for this step. Merge layers down 12 The wings T The wings are probably the most important element for a faerie. so I can start to do some work on the little faeries who are fluttering around her. repeating this several times. They will be naked with huge wings and ears. Of course you can change the shape of the brush. I don’t want their faces to be too realistic. colourful and a bit transparent. because its not the main subject. Next I duplicate the layer and set it to Soft Light. flip it horizontally and set it to Soft Light with a very low Opacity. T The main character is almost complete. so I don’t need to push the details too far. I paint little brush strokes of colour with a Spackled brush. I erase some parts of the wings. I usually start sketching the trees. to add an extra touch of texture. and blur the rest. with a very low Opacity. I add details and light on only a few leaves. which will bring more colour variations to the background. I don’t need to over detail the tree. They will be very small. I follow the curve. I do this step on a different layer set to Soft Light.tut_faerie 71 6/9/07 09:34:10 . I will add a lot little dots of light or shadows with a custom brush. and blur the tips. I create a lot of texture layers until I’m satisfied with the result. Ctrl/Cmd+E This shortcut is pretty handy when you need to merge down layers quickly. I duplicate the whole layer again and set it to Soft Light. After that step. then blur the final result. T The forest will not be very detailed. I want to make them very diffuse. I add some little dots of light with the custom brush you can see on the screenshot.In depth Painting a faerie scene 11 Texturing the background b T bring more depth of field and more To texture. I repeat this stage several times. Once the forest looks great. 8 T The little faeries 10 Details some details on the 0 I want to add foreground branch. or mix a few different ones. You can also duplicate the background. So on the base. Once the leafage is done. 9 The forest November 2007 71 UNI23.

and add some dots of light here and there and slightly blur the whole element. I find d it very useful to fix. I also add some faerie powder and finish the little faeries. I have made it in Painter. I paint lightly upon the wings (on a new layer) to unify the whole texture. I used it here to paint tree trunks. little variations are great and always produce a more believable result. To make the gold appear very shiny. After merging all the layers together. wings also and sometimes skin. 4 I want tiara The secret texturing brush This is another custom brush I use for the background. and on another layer with a custom brush (you could use a hard Round edge with a very low Hardness) I lay down the glow. blend. The Blur tool R To blur some thing quickly. It’s really important to have everything well integrated. I usually paint large brushes strokes with it and set the layer to Soft Light. I usually do the last bits of l blending in Painter. I use a basic Round brush set to Shape Dynamic. I also add a more colour intensity to the flowers with the same brush technique I used to add more texture to the background in step 11.Workshops M glow 15 Magic I’m happy with the face. with a little leaf design incorporated into it. This brush is pretty handy when you want to add little details to an image. N Now that I have to add the final touch of light. and blur some parts in Photoshop. For this I pick a very bright violet colour. and add texture. almost like a gold web. With an Oil Palette Knife brush.tut_faerie 72 6/9/07 09:34:14 . because I don’t want to have a perfect glow. 72 November 2007 UNI23. 16 Checking stage 6 Now the illustration is almost N complete. 17 Final step is now complete. so don’t hesitate to add more background colour to the character if you think that you need it. 13 Painter stage very I usually switch to Painter often during the painting process. I duplicate T The illustration the final illustration and set it to Soft Light (again with a very low Opacity). This will bring a bit more light and colour intensity. and it brings a lot of colour variations to anything. I pick a very saturated yellow tone. I use it with a low Strength (20%) and wi th a basic Round brush with Hardness 100% . I prefer using brushes to do this than a filter. 14 The the tiara to be very delicate.