photoshop creative

How I Made: Mermaid’s Wish

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How I Made, by Mark White
April 18, 2016

Discover how Shannon Maer made this ethereal digital painting


1. Initial sketch


Getting an overall feel for the direction of a piece is vital at an early stage. Limiting it to black and white helps me to focus on the image in a purely graphic manner.

2. Underpainting


Laying down a base for all the colours as well as the basic shading, sets a tone before all the heavy lifting goes into detailing.

3. Contrast and lighting


Here, I both adjusted the pose to add some life to the figure as well as the early stages of adding some contrast and lighting to the environment.

4. Adding atmosphere


With the base already laid in, I could see that a warmer tone for the atmosphere would both complement and draw your attention, while still retaining a separation from the background.

5. Unifying the colour


In order to solidify the picture as a whole, it is important to maintain a unified colour palette throughout the entire image. Here I brought much of the background colours into the foreground elements as well.

6. Revise the composition


I wanted the mermaid to feel more inviting and open to the viewer. Here I feel the image took a step forward and became more interesting.

7. Detailing


With the revised posed in place, the same colouring and lighting needed to be matched. The warm glow of the environment lighting is beginning to take shape.

8. Dynamic changes


You might hesitate to make a significant change to your work because of all the time that you’ve invested, but often these choices are what brings your characters to life.

  • Faith Anderson

    Stunning, but would have loved to know HOW you did this.