The first thing done after getting a good night's sleep and coming back with fresh eyes was to correct some drawing issues; getting back the original gesture of my skeleton and correcting proportions and forms. The main things here was getting the curve of his back in the way it was in the gesture, and also giving the leg on the left a bit of a bow to it like a planted leg will usually have. The hand and face were also tweaked a bit.
Next is to establish where this is going to head as a painting. He could just be left floating in gray smoke, but if I'm going to spend a good 10 or 20 hours trying to render him out to perfection it's going to be worth it to spend some time and make a nice composition out of it.
This step is also very important cause it determines the light source, which is going to need to be very clear if this is going to end up looking realistic. The light here is coming from above, in front, and to the right of the figure, and I'll need to keep that in mind for the entire process because each plane will need to be considered and how much it is facing the light source, then shaded accordingly. Value change = form change, so if there are incorrect values somewhere, the figure will look less realistic because it will seem to have unnatural forms.
However, at this stage big forms come first; just like drawing the big masses, the whole torso is thought of as a block, the arms and legs as cylinders, and shaded like that. All the smaller forms of the muscles need to follow the overall form of the larger masses, or else the figure will flatten out. It's also worthy of noting that this is all from imagination; the goal here is to create, not copy, so it needs to be established the way I want it to look before bringing in reference. Photo reference will only be used to refine the things that I already decided are going to look good.
And now it's off to rendersville! All the layers are merged down to a single layer and I begin painting on top of it. The goal here is to reinforce all the larger forms and get them reading clearly; this first step of rendering is not about detail so a lot of the subtleties are being left out for now. Most everything is left fairly soft-edged, hard edges will be brought in later with the smaller forms. The main thing here is simply to establish front and side planes of each body part, and each major muscle group. From here it will be refined with smaller forms and muscles, piece by piece, which will need some photo reference to get some of the subtleties a real figure has.
And that's all for today; some things are still mushy and need clarification, especially in the legs, and some contours and proportions need tweaked, that will all come next now that the overall figure is established. Also, I'll continue to work on this, but there are some other projects that need to get done so it might be a few days before it's progressed enough to update again. It should be completed by the end of this week, though!