Finally, after taking a full day off work, and ploughing through some 16 hours of solid painting, I got the previously posted piece finished! Such a slog, but worth it, as I'm really pleased with how it turned out in the end.
Here's a few steps on the long furry road to getting there!
Started with the cat's face, as it's the focus of the piece. All the fur was done like this, with a texture of something (like rust in this case) laid under it and messed with in the hue/saturation window, to give me a palette to start with, and to add some noise and dirt to the digital paint. The fur itself was done by layering down larger areas with one of John Kearney's hair brushes, and then overlaying with a small round brush a lot. Detail areas like the face were just done straight with the small round. Each section of the painting took hours to complete - this particular shot would have been around 4-5 hours in.
I had to work on the snowleopard and ibex seperately to keep my machine running smoothly, as the final piece was 8000 pixels down it's longest length.
Slowly adding to the cat bit by bit, treating each section such as legs and paws as smaller areas to complete before moving on.
At this point, I realise his back haunches just look much too long, so I bring them in. Makes him look a lot more hunched to pounce this way too, which was what i had intended.
The cat's almost done! I've deliberately left the back end of the cat less detailed in fur than the front, so he can come out at the viewer more. Once he's finished I drop him back into the full res image so I can see how he looks in the composition.
Time for the ibex! At this point I have maybe 2 days left before the deadline and I've massively underestimated how long it'll take me to paint all that ibex fur up close! Luckily I'd booked a day off a couple of days back, so I put on my all nighter cap and painted for all I was worth.
Here's an idea of how big this whole image was... the ibex eye at 100% of full size! This should give some indication of how important it is to get the fur looking right at such high res! The direction, not to mention the way it overlaps, and subtle colour variations all contirbute to giving it more life.
From here on, I had to just get my head down and had no time to even save out wips. 'O.o
With the ibex done, here's how it looked when I dropped the ibex in with the cat, and laid in a simplistic chunky-cut background. Partially due to the time constraints, but something I'd planned on doing from about a third of the way into the piece, mostly to give the animals the focus, and just something to make it a little different from all the other amazingly painted realistic backgrounds I'd seen on the site's wip posts. At this point, there's still a bunch of work to be done with regards to the balancing of the piece, with its colour tones, with making sure certain edges popped while others got a little lost (the ibex neckline, vs the cat's rear leg). Most of that was done with layer effects, some was done with a little more paintwork. In the end, it turned out like the image at the top of the post, which I felt still captured the original vibe of the original colour pass in my previous post.