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Adanna Onuekwusi’s Fantasy Portraits

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We spend a lot of time digging up and looking at art made by our users. (We have one of the best jobs on the planet — we know.) We scour Instagram and Twitter and Tumblr and Pinterest and ArtStation and all kinds of other places, but we’ve always found some of our most fervent users on Deviant Art. Awhile back, we noticed a series of interesting fantasy portraits by DA member Adanna Onuekwusi that had a particular look to them that really showed off the tools in SketchBook. We commissioned her to make a portrait for us and asked her to tell us a bit about her experience creating art.

Tell us about yourself

My name is Adanna Onuekwusi, and I am Nigerian. I go to school in Alberta, Canada where I’m in the process of getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Design. I started out studying Civil Engineering but made the switch after taking a CAD-based class I really liked a few months in.

When did you start drawing?

I like to think that I was always drawing traditionally on and off as a kid. I started doing it more often when I got really into Disney movies and anime around 10 years old. I did art for a bit in secondary school but dropped it for a number of years after that. I didn’t do much until I found SketchBook and digital art three years ago. I haven’t stopped since.

Adanna Onuekwusi Portrait Samples
Dreamy, mesmerizing gazes are one hallmark of Adanna’s portraits.

Who are these women you draw?

A lot of my work falls under the genre of fantasy, and I appreciate themes in fantasy a lot because of how unrestrained it can be. You can reach to the ends of your imagination and back. I enjoy illustrating my characters as powerful women within these worlds: mages, queens, knights, alchemists, etc. I don’t think I’ve ever used a model before. I just use my imagination.

What was your workflow for the “Winter” piece?

My workflow usually starts with a pencil sketch on paper that’s scanned onto my PC and finished in SketchBook. I don’t own a tablet (still saving up), but I realized a while ago that I could work on my touchscreen PC with a stylus. It’s not a high-end one so I don’t get pen pressure levels or any of that fun stuff, but it works okay for me right now. “Winter” was created in the same way. While in SketchBook, I sometimes work directly on top of the scanned sketch layer. Other times I just trace it out on a different layer.

collage
Luminous color is one of the things Adanna does well.

Where did your inspiration come from for this piece?

Nothing too fancy. It was a really hot day outside at the time so I started speculating about what the weather would be like in a few months. I think it helped me cool off a bit.

What kind of settings do you regularly use?

My sketch layer is usually set to soft light with low opacity. Currently, the brush set I use the most is the Artist one, which I found on the SketchBook blog. With this piece I worked out thumbnails and put them aside before starting the main painting in values. After that I added color and lighting based on my chosen thumbnail and refined it until I felt satisfied. I made a few versions because I couldn’t decide which one I liked best.

winter33
Adanna’s final piece complete with snowy backdrop and framed by tree limbs.

Thank you, Adanna!

We love your final fantasy portrait, and we really appreciate you taking the time to show us the process of layering on additional details by saving it at various points. You can follow Adanna Onuekwusi on Twitter, ArtStation, or Instagram if you like her particular style of art. And if you make something you’re proud of, please tag it #sketchbookpro so our team can follow along with the things you create.