Process time! This is the layers I have and the reason I'm not calling this a Step-by-Step is because I moved back and forth between these layers to adjust as the painting progressed. This is still more or less the order I painted.
I did this using a mirror so mai gadd this was pretty tough. I tried really hard to refrain from taking any pictures but in the end I had to do it for my right hand (the one that's touching the sharp side of the blade) because I use it to draw. At first I was trying to do it from memory but it only got me so far. So first thing I did was sketch only with line and then blocked in my values. This was the part that I spent the most time on because I wanted to really get a likeness as well as getting the values as solid as possible to make things easier for me when I start to blend.
My art teacher told us that the longer an artist can resist putting details in their work until the end and after the structure is sound, the better of an artist they are. I've seen artists who don't follow this theory and are still successful, for example they do a painting section by section, but that idea really works for me. I've improved much more now that I think more about the whole and I think people who are still learning and experimenting should try it out.
So I'm happy with my values because I've gotten it where the focal point is my face, with it being the lightest value against the darkest value which is my hair. Eyes are drawn to contrast so right now the eyes are travelling to my face and then to the blade because it also has similar attributes and back to my face. I then start to blend the values, but still keeping in mind hard and soft edges so for example the cast shadow coming from my nose onto my cheeks are hard edge. That is what happens to cast shadows with strong light, the edges are hard but then the transition from the light and dark on my forehead is soft because my forehead is rounded.
I worked on the apron here. I mentioned in a another blog that I had a problem with making things look more like clay rather than skin or cloth so that's what I tried to do with the apron. It was a thicker canvas apron so it has some similar qualities to clay but still I tried to give it more grit and brush texture to show that its not smooth like clay.
The hair! When it comes to hair, I tried to think of it as large shapes instead of each strand, just like what my teacher told us. At first, I simply blocked in where it was gonna be light or dark and at the very last is when I added some strands of bright white for highlights. I've noticed that in some beginner's work, one would try to draw every single strand and it ends up look more like a hay or fur rather than hair. Much too stringy. This is where thinking of the whole and thinking in shapes come in handy.
Bloooooooddddd mmm. Yay so I added blood spatters. I used a lot of references online to see how blood spatter works. However right now, the blood looks more like dry paint rather than wet yucky liquid.
So I added reflection and attributes to make it look like liquid.
Finally, I placed finishing touches of my glasses and a wedding band to make her look like a housewife who just killed her husband. Remember what I said about contrast above? Well I felt like it could use a bit more so I used Curves in Photoshop to improve the contrast and make my focal points stand out even more. The hierarchy of focal point is my face, then the blade, then the wedding band and back. This makes your eyes cycle around the image instead of turning the page or looking away.
And voila! Thanks for reading and I hope this helped some people to perhaps apply some of this into your own work. :)