As with any work I create, it all starts with the lighting. If I want this to look like a painting, I have to light it in a painterly fashion. I tend to lean toward chiaroscuro and so my lighting is set up for dramatic effect, creating highlights and shadows. Being...ahem...a bit older, I used the largest modifier possible so that I'd have a soft wrap and not over-accentuate my less than perfect skin.
Posing for self portraits is difficult. I've gained a lot of respect for self-portrait artists out there. Finding your focus and knowing if you've posed correctly is difficult. I may know how to pose my subject so they look their best for the camera, but when posing myself, I can't see how I look in camera. It took several attempts to get a half way decent self-portrait. It's still less than ideal.
After I had a somewhat okay subject, I started the digital painting part. I used custom brushes and created and modified a background. I then cut myself out of the portrait and placed myself into the background. It is always a challenge to make the subject match the background in color and lighting. After I achieved that, I set to painting over the subject with custom brushes. I started with blocking in color, then building up the detail from there. I painted additional hair to fill in the gaps.
Painting over the subject is different from what I've done in the past with my fantasy images. In those, I simply used dodge and burn to enhance the lighting effects on my subjects. This time, I actually used color and digitally painted as if I were creating the image on a canvas. Just like with painting, I would change my custom brush for the effect I would need as I built up from blocking in color to creating the details. Pressure sensitivity is essential and so is a Wacom tablet. There is no way I would have been able to paint with a mouse.
The image took about 8-10 hours to create (not including the shooting time). This was a simple image and not as detailed as some of my concepts.
While this is time consuming, it blended my two favorite creative outlets; photography and painting. I can also see uses with future fantasy portraits. Using these techniques, I'll be able to create fantasy worlds and creatures to add into these concepts.