Here's a piece I'm hoping to wrap up within the next week. I thought I would go through my process a bit here. I may seem redundant at this point. However, even I finding myself unknowingly cutting corners sometimes and wondering why something isn't quite working out the way I wanted or why I can't seem to move forward.
Of course here's my initial sketch followed by a color comp.
After spending a lot of time looking up different types of trees, taking pictures of some trees around town, and taking photo reference of my figure I was ready to do the final drawing. After a loose transfer of the sketch I use my reference to create and refine my final drawing right onto the watercolor paper. Doing a final drawing and then trying to transfer all of that detail is a bit tiresome to me and it also tends to loose some freshness which needs to be recreated. There are usually areas in the drawing that I don't want too finished as it can restrict some spontaneity later while I'm painting. When it comes to the figures however, I try to make them as tight as possible.
Now it's ready for some paint. I usually start off with some large washes to fix the drawing and tone the paper overall. Knowing I wanted the center of the figure to be highlighted I lifted out the paint while it was still wet with a paper towel. From here on I'm slowly building up the value and color and beginning to refine some shapes within the piece. If you compare the figure's skin tone in image 5 with image 6 you'll notice it appears to have warmed up. Most likely, this is due to all the cool tones I've added to the background. I actually like the more muted skin tone so at some point I'll have to adjust it. There's always some back and forth, push and pull of this nature the further you get into a painting. I actually think that's the fun part.
Atmosphere is also important here. Besides the focal point of the piece I don't want my edges to be too sharp or contrasting. In the last image presented here I'm just starting to have a little fun refining the branch above her head. And that's where I'm at with this piece. I'll be sure to post more when it's finished and I get a good reproduction.