I worked on this because I wanted to try out some “new” techniques I saw in a video by west coast artist Shaddy Safadi about how to begin a digital landscape painting. I chose this picture because it had a very strong light-shadow pattern. Being a portrait instead of a landscape, the video didn't exactly apply, but it did help me see a new way of setting up a digital painting. I put new in quotes above, because somewhat ironically this the same way landscape painters have been starting out for a long, long time.
So let's get to that. The big idea is to start with the obvious shadow pattern, this is the traditional part, and then the digital twist is put that on one layer, and then use additional layers for the highlight and mid-tone areas. (Note, this is an enormous simplification of Safadi's technique in the video. Go to http://www.shaddyconceptart.com/category/blogs/art-blog to learn more and to see his amazing landscapes.)
Why do it this way? For me, it was the desire to speed up my process. So I could knock out a painting in a few hours instead of a few days. But, in addition, I need lots of practice in seeing the value pattern in a scene.
Today I'm going to try a landscape and strictly limit myself to two hours.