I very recently got commissioned to paint two portraits for someone as a Christmas gift (Merry Christmas!), and I recorded my process of these paintings very closely so I could give some insights as to how I work. I saved both images, as well as recorded a video of my screen while I was painting, that I then sped up.
I hope this will help you!!!
See above: all images from sketch to finished product. This took about 10 hours total, I think, though my perception of time in this is usually much longer, because it takes a while to get started, there is a lot of tweaking near the end and a lot of thinking about the best way to do things, which brushes to use, etc.
Nowadays I hardly use the standard hard brush for base colouring anymore. In most cases I start out with the soft pattern brush right away and use that to block out the basic colours. It creates a nice blend of colours as well as providing some texture right off the bat.
If there isn’t enough crispiness to the painting, I usually go back to the hard brush. I used the hard brush for details in the eyes, and eyelashes, etc, for this painting.
The supersmooth skin brush I use toward the end to give the painting a soft, silky look. It also really helps to blend the tones. It’s a tricky brush though, because it is really hard not to overdo things with this brush.
Coming soon: Background painting tutorial!