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December 02, 2023, 07:12:48 PM
Marc-- thank you!

Creating Deryni Character Art--an overview

Started by Evie, February 16, 2022, 04:17:32 PM

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I've been asked to create a tutorial for how I create some of the Deryni character portraits I have in the Gallery and in my Flickr album at https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjzASpX. I will see if I can do a more detailed tutorial explaining how I do a sample portrait on a step by step basis (though each portrait is done in a slightly different way and presents its own unique challenges), but here is a general overview of how the O'Shieles of Llyr portrait collage came together.

Every one of these character portraits started off as one image, reposted here by permission of Elizabeth Zharoff of the YouTube Channel, "The Charismatic Voice," whose photo this is. (If you like music and/or vocal analysis/reaction videos, please check out Elizabeth's channel. She is an amazingly talented vocalist who is able to explain vocal music techniques in a way that someone who is musically challenged like myself can easily understand. Besides, she is a Disney princess incarnate. What's not to love?  ;D )

Since I can't draw (at least nothing as complex as a human face), I have to start off with a photo or other sort of facial likeness. What made me choose Elizabeth to start off with is that she currently has hair that is a similar color to Catriona's, so I did a Google search for a good head and shoulders shot of her. This one ended up not having the hair color that I was looking for or even one of her more characteristic expressions that I might see more of a resemblance to my Catriona in, but it was a good, clear picture that I thought I could work with, so I decided to give it a go despite it not really looking much like the Catriona in my head yet. I think her eyes sealed the deal for me, since Catriona has very pale green eyes, and I thought I might be able to achieve that easily by applying the right filter to Elizabeth's.

Trying to reconstruct the editing process as best as I can remember based on the trail of photos that I saved along the way, here was my next step:

I changed the photo in either FaceTune phone app or PicsArt app in order to get roughly the hair and eye colors that I was aiming for. The portrait still has a long way to go, but it is beginning to look just a little bit more like my Catriona.

After adjusting the coloring some more, I went into FaceApp and applied one or more of the beauty filters that subtly adjusts or enhances various features, until I got a combination that I liked and saved that version.

One thing I added was a light smattering of freckles, because someone with fair coloring who spent a lot of time outdoors most likely had at least a few. I often add freckles or a light tan to characters who spend a lot of time outdoors.

I used FaceApp to see what she'd look like with various facial expressions, but I think this ended up messing up her hair in subsequent merges, so I don't think I'll try that in future.

Here we have a mutated Elizabeth with some very serious Wild Thing hair!   ;D  Her face looks odd because I have opened up the picture I wanted to work with in FaceTune and have begun using some of the feature alteration settings to try to change her face so she no longer recognizably resembles Elizabeth. This is the first time I ever attempted changing the actual contours of a face and various feature sizes before, so it's a miracle she didn't turn out as even more of a mutant!

I think at this point I returned to FaceApp and applied a different hairstyle and softened up her features using filter settings, and I liked the resulting picture a lot better aside from that really funky bit at the top.

Fortunately some careful photo cropping managed to save the picture, and I could continue to color correct and tweak in FaceTune. This ended up becoming my Catriona Template that all of the O'Shiele family portraits are derived from. In most cases, if I have a character I know I will want to make more copies of later, I will be sure to save a template of their face to work with again later.

FaceApp allows you to change a photo's gender, so since Catriona is a shapeshifter who uses the guise of "Kyle of Shiele," I used the gender swap feature to create the first Kyle prototype. I am not at all certain how he acquired a t-shirt, since I don't recall merging another photo in to get this version, though it's possible I might have. (If so, I have no idea what photo I might have used, so I'm thinking it's just something the app algorithm supplied.)

However, to sustain the Kyle guise, I think Catriona would go to minimal effort to change herself, mostly focusing on changing her body shape and facial features, while leaving more superficial things like hair length mostly unchanged, and without bothering to disguise her clothing.  So I applied a long hair filter to Kyle. Since Kyle of course started off as Catriona, the long hair it applied was in more or less the same style she started out with.  (It's essentially the shorter Kyle hair merged with the original Catriona hair.)

After creating Catriona and Kyle, I played around with making a Mihall, but wasn't entirely happy with various early iterations. But in the meantime, I discovered it was possible to do something called Face Swap in Faceapp in order to add a face you like to another photo that has a body you want to use, provided that the body photo is clear enough and has a well defined face that you can swap with. (In other words, clothes on a mannequin or a very blurry photo of a person in a costume won't work.) So after searching Google for believable woman warrior armor (i.e., no bunny fur and chain mail bikinis), I decided to try using a photo of the character Lagertha from "The Vikings."

I then merged this body with the Catriona face template, and got this result at first try (miracle of miracles!), which was further astonishing because somehow she's back to resembling Elizabeth (the actual Elizabeth, not the photo I started off with) even more than ever, though also somehow looking like I might have merged her with Jennifer Lawrence, which I didn't, but I'm totally cool with that resemblance.

Once I had the Catriona I wanted, I did a gender swap on her face in FaceApp to create the Kyle version.

Once I had the right face, I think I merged it to the body separately to create the full body version. (For a Disney princess, Elizabeth turns out to be a pretty dishy dude.  ;D ) Once I had the head on the body, I saved the file and opened it in YouCam Makeup app to thicken his waist just a little bit, since even though the armor is fairly unisex, he shouldn't look quite as curvy in the Kyle form, or especially as the more mature Mihall. Fortunately the original didn't have a super prominent breast area to have to alter as well.)

I originally was going to try a merge with Wolf Larson (one of the 1980s era Tarzans) to create Mihall, but I think I ended up not needing to.  I just added a Masculine filter over the already masculine Kyle picture (after saving it, exiting, opening it and saving it in a different app so that Faceapp would think it was a totally different photo, and reopening it in Faceapp), and added a "Passion" filter amped up to high.  I think I also aged him just a tad, unless just adding those two tweaks did the trick for me. (I can't recall anymore.) And voila!  It's Mihall. 

Dang, girlfriend, you look like a romance novel cover!   ;D

For the grown-up picture of Mihall's daughter Eibhlin by Jashana Arilan, I did a merge of Mihall and Jashana's face template to create this version. The eye color was tweaked by opening the file in either Facetune or PicsArt.  (Depending on the photo I'm working with, sometimes one works better than the other one.)

And then I used the collage feature in PicsArt to consolidate all four pictures into one, and we're back to where we started.

From there, it's just a matter of trying various apps and photo filters to add artistic effects. I used a light application of the Colored Pencils setting in Varnist for this one:

A heavier application of the same app setting.

And a faux watercolor version done in QniPaint phone app.

All of that sounds extremely complicated, I know, but it's really not all that time consuming when the merges go right.  I can usually create a portrait in about ten minutes, sometimes even less, though with this one being so complex, it took a little more time. However, I'm pretty sure total working time was still under an hour.
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

I have a vocabulary in excess of 75,000 words, and I'm not afraid to use it!


That is so very Cool, Evie!
And I Love Love, Elisabeth's "The Charismatic Voice,"  I have watched those for hours.  She is such a positive, upbeat person and so talented.
Thank you for sharing.
May your horses have wings and fly!


She is utterly adorkable.  (No, that's not a typo.  ;D ) I'm very glad to have her likeness as the underlying inspiration photo for my Catriona, and even more pleased that she was happy with the resulting artwork, since I was pretty nervous about showing it to her and Kirk when requesting permission to upload the original pic for this post. (Especially since I forgot to ask her beforehand if it would be OK for me to use her photo to create digital art with, never realizing it was going to end up turning out so well that I'd want to publicly feature it in the Gallery!  :-[ )
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

I have a vocabulary in excess of 75,000 words, and I'm not afraid to use it!


I do need to get and master FaceApp. I have a particular photo I very much want to use as a template for Charissa in my fanfic.


Faceapp, Facetune, and PicsArt, in that order, are the apps I probably use the most when creating character portraits, and Faceapp is the most versatile of those three, at least where portrait editing is concerned. Also, Background Eraser is great if you want to remove all of the background and have lots of control, down to the pixel, of which parts you wish to remove and which you want to leave alone.  Once I have just the actual figure saved, I can add it to a different backdrop in Picsart. 
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

I have a vocabulary in excess of 75,000 words, and I'm not afraid to use it!


Thank you! I'll see about getting FaceApp!


Judy Ward
You can buy a pretty good dog with money but you can't buy the wag of its tail.