Making of Tainted

Making of Tainted
Skill Level: Intermediate
Used Software: Photoshop
Completion Time: 7 hours

I wanted to create a being that was androgynous and seemed really young. I wanted to mix the traditional story, and the pantomime character together


Ever since I’ve known about the character, I’ve always wanted to paint the Pierrot. There’s something really vulnerable and tragic about him that makes him so endearing – always a good subject for a painting! The original story goes something like this: There is a story about the pierrot, which relates how a small naked boy was found outside the gates of Heaven. It was winter, and as St Peter picked up the child and blessed him, the snow on his body turned into a suit of pure white clothing. St Peter adopted the child and gave him his own name – Little Peter or Pierrot – but there was one condition, Pierrot was not to be allowed to play with any of the human children he might come across as he wandered outside the gates of Paradise. Of course, this was almost impossible for a small boy, and on his return from just such a meeting he realised that his white suit now had black marks on it where the ordinary children had touched him. They proclaimed his guilt, and Pierrot was excluded from Paradise forevermore.
Anyway, I wanted to create a being that was androgynous and seemed really young. I wanted to mix the traditional story, and the pantomime character together. So while it would be a small naked being covered with “dirty” hand prints, I also wanted to show the mouth which was cut to make it look bigger, a messy wig-like hair and the red nose. The hair would be pristine white, the last vestige of innocence left in it, and the red nose could either be like the one on a clown, or red due to crying. The head by itself had to be a little big, all to add to the emotion.
As for the tutorial, I think the pictures will speak more than my commentary itself. The words are just a guide to tell you where to look for changes :)


I wanted a cool colour scheme for this painting and for a long time I wavered between having the base as cyan or green. This was important as the background was to be rather plain and so the correct colour had to be chosen to make the skin look “real”. Much of the background will also appear in the shadow areas of the face.
I used the hard round brush almost exclusively throughout this painting in normal mode and at 100% opacity. I start painting directly- a cylinder for the neck and an oval shape for the eye. After this, I start “modeling” the face, so the areas that recede are darker and the ones that project are lighter. I add darks for the eye-sockets, the shadow area under the nose and on the top lip and below the bottom one. Then I paint the top eyelid and define the nose a little more. I painted the angle of the mouth too, almost an exaggerated frown.


I changed the background to green. It will make the reds in the face pop out very well. I added a bit of that green to the shadow of the face( I usually colourpick the background and move the slider so the result is a little more saturated and use this result with light strokes). I also started refining the nose a bit and added some red to it. I’m going to keep the lower eyelid and the surrounding area dark as it will have the flowing mascara (from the tear) on it. I also painted the eyeballs. I want them to be big, almost exaggerated.


Not too much of a difference from the last step, I just added the irises of the eyes here. They don’t seem to be looking at the same direction though. A good habit to form is to always keep horizontally flipping the image. It helps you to spot the mistakes you become immune to, when you stare at them for too long. Also keep the light source in mind at all times. It is usually most noticeable in the eyes.


I shifted its right eye to match the left. Also added some hue variations to the nose. An excellent way to do this is to set the brush on “soft light” mode and brush lightly. I also added the highlights to the nose. I used a light cyan as the highlight colour here (mostly because it’s close to the sky colour, which gets reflected all over the face).


I increased the darkness around the eyes and added highlights to the cheeks to make the eye recede even more. At this point I’m still a little unsure of the angle the Pierrot is standing in. I’ve also been making tiny adjustments to the face. A soft highlight just besides the lower lip adds a little pout. I’ve also added bluish highlights to the wet parts of the flowing mascara; it seems to add to the realism.


Ah, I finally painted the black tear! It’s one of the features of a pierrot thought I’d keep it opaque, but it looks really stark against the skin. The mascara trail was easy to paint – I just darkened the edges a little bit to show the residue there while the centre was washed out. I erased the eyebrow too and changed the form of the eye socket a bit to make it look like a slight frown.


Some more highlights on the nose, forehead and cheeks. I also use a soft brush and gently paint some pinks on the skin. I wondered if the tear would look better as a real tear, and it seemed to. I colourpicked the adjoining skin colour and gently brushed that in the middle of the tear. Then I selected the highlight colour and painted it in the shadow layer, for the caustics.


I decided that the only fitting pose for the Pierrot was where it was looking over its shoulder. I did a rough painting of the body and kept painting over it with the background colour, to blend it in. The hair had to fall like mop, dishevelled and wig-like. I painted locks, keeping them a little blurry and adding strong highlights here and there. The shadows are the background colour again, a little more saturated and a little yellow-er. I tried changing the composition a bit, added 2 doves in the background- but I didn’t really like it so I kept it out in the final.


Almost there! It needs some handprints on its body. So I used a dark red and paint hands on the back. Then I selected the skin tone and gently painted over the handprints, thus erasing it. Also worked a little more on the edges of the hair.


Added some snow and a border. I blurred the snowflakes a bit, to give the illusion of depth. I also had the hair on another layer, so I pulled it down a bit, so that the hair looks messier. And done!

A close up of the face.

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