I just got done doing an illustration job. It's for a book cover...
This was digitally painted (on top of a watercolor painting) and I wasn't entirely happy with the end result. In the early stages I was really psyched about how it was turning out and thought I'd end up with something solid to add to my portfolio. What began as a mostly watercolor painting with some digital effects turned into an almost all digital piece as the client made more and more requests for changes. Because the digital effects made the painting look quite realistic in places and it seemed the customer liked that, it seemed every requested change was to slowly remove the more painterly areas.
Pretty soon, I ended up with something a lot more "airbrushy" than I had wanted in the beginning, though it also opened my eyes to what I could do with the techniques I had developed in working on the piece. But it also made me like the piece less as the closer it came to "realism" the more obvious the flaws in my initial drawing were. It was also then I realized I liked digital painting but I couldn't get the effects I see in other illustrators' work. What I had hoped would end up as a solid portfolio piece now became something wanting to be more and demanding I do more work in the style before producing satisfactory results.
It helped that I've been listening to the great and inspiring Big Illustration Party Time podcast which lead me to Chris Oatley's podcast and site. At his site Chris Oatley has a set of Photoshop brush tool pre-sets. I'd downloaded a million brushes in the past but never found someone offering their list of presents so I downloaded them and found a great selection of varying brushes that produce a wide range of effects. I've also done some due diligence and started to do a better job of figuring out the brush settings in the hope that I will finally be able to buy at least a small, used Wacom tablet with the profits made from this past job.
Because I had some new toys to play with, I figured I'd hunt up an old sketch I'd been wanting to use as a basis for a painting and try out all the new brushes. I'm trying to use limited colors and keep a painterly feel. I'm not quite finished with it but thought it looked good enough at this early stage to share.