So basically JimmyJw asked me if I could help him with his portrait (see spoiler below), and I showed him the steps I do to reach my final portrait. So I decided to turn the messages I sent him into this post here as a little mini step by step process/tutorial thing for all you guys to see. Perhaps I will record myself doing something like this as well, but you will just have to put up with my accent
In no way do you need to follow this method, this is just how I prefer to do it, so it is completely up to you but I hope this helps you all somewhat.
First I flipped your image horizontally, it is a lot
easier to work when the angle of your references are the same as the angle of intended drawing. As you can see, I coloured the hair with one colour for this first part, this is a technique I use where rather than drawing in the outline of the shapes, I make the shapes of the drawing with just one colour and add more and more colours to shape it further. Haven't done much else in this part, but I can already tell that the colour limit is going to go over. Some things to consider would be making yellow just the normal skin tone colour and the grey shoulder-pad as brown.
Because I had flipped the image, the entire position of the clothing was completely incorrect, so I had to redraw in most things. One of the most important things about this edit is the use of just one colour and its affects. Also, notice the headband; although it will later be covered by hair later, it is a good idea to get the positioning of it correct first, then draw over it.
Hair! This edit I basically just shaped the hair and added the (i guess you could call it tail) back bit of the headband. And you'll notice that things are starting to come together finally, all the shapes are finally set, they make get changed later but at least we have a firm idea of what we want them to look like.
Secondary shaping, now we are starting to shape the plain first colour into something more defined and recognizable. It doesn't matter what colour you use to secondary shape, just as long as the colour is in the same palette section (i.e. light blue, use dark blue to shade). Personally, I prefer to shade with something darker than primary colour that was used, and then more on to the third colour and fourth colour (the third and fourth colour I prefer to be one shade inbetween the first and second colour and the other colour brighter than the first colour. (You may also notice that I change the red, this is changed again)
Refining. I changed the reds, and lightened the blacks to a brown everywhere on the cloak/cape. As the light source is coming mostly (I will explain why I said 'mostly' at a different time) from the top left hand corner, I started shading accordingly. Now this is the part where references are really important as you are relying on the light source but this is difficult to portray for different clothings etc. Just use all colours that you assigned yourself (4 in this case) to shape what you want.
Further refining (ran out of time for more). Changed the yellow to the skin colour, you are welcome to change it back, it just looks like the colour limit could ruin things.
The cloak and shoulder pad are done! I'm pretty sure I continue working on it a bit more in the next edit but the basics are done. I also added the other tail of the head band. Not much else to comment on.
In this edit I basically just finished off the head band and the collar. The one thing to note here is how i blended the blue and yellow and the red and yellow. I mostly relied on the browns as brown is basically the result of merging all colours together, so it works as a good medium. Also, I added a new ear, I noticed the original was a bit too small and oddly placed.
Okay, here's where the fun starts, just using the same method as I did for the cape, i drew in the shapes of what i wanted the hair to look like with a darker colour. Once again, this method of shading is completely up to you, I just prefer doing it this way.
Here, I just did a small edit to show you how I build up the hair as I go along (see next edit). You just think of what with the light source hit first, and how some bits of the hair will affect the rest of the hair. But just make sure you have tons of references up to make sure you are getting everything looking alright. This is really important. One thing I would recommend is trying to not section the hair into little hair strands at first, FFT hair style is very flat and doesn't generally
have little hair strands flying all over the place. Just keep things clean and you will be good.
And the hair is now mostly finished! We just need to either refine some more things or make a highlight, and this is completely up to you.
What do you prefer? Sometimes a highlight can make things look bad, other times not. However, with the highlight, I had to remove the white of the eye as I reached the colour limit. Personally, I prefer without the highlight (the middle of the hair may need a few touch ups because I just quickly changed the highlight back to the darker blue to show you). Also I noticed I didnt get around to completely finishing off the neck xD. So I'll leave you to do that
Anyway, hope this helps. Also final note, sometimes its better to just start in a 32x48 box straight off, rather than making a big canvas as you waste time on making unnecessary parts. BUT on the other hand, it is really really good practice.