Hello all! Thank you for visiting my website. If you're new here, welcome! This blog is where I go more in depth about the materials, techniques, and processes I use when creating my artwork. This post will be about my portrait of Elizabeth Short, aka the Black Dahlia. I understand not everyone has an interest in true crime, but if you are interested and are not familiar with her murder I recommend giving it a quick Google search!
This painting measures 9"x15" and is on cold press watercolor paper. I sketched out everything with graphite, and began painting from her face outward with watercolor. When I was satisfied with the watercolor portion, I outlined everything with an india ink pen and painted the remainder of the background with waterproof india ink. After, I added highlights and detail using my white ink pen to add more interest.
Now, I'm going to be honest. I had some issues with value contrast because of how black I wanted this painting to be. One of the reasons that Elizabeth Short was nicknamed the Black Dahlia was because of her black hair. I wanted her hair to be black, but I also wanted the background to be black. This is where I took some creative liberties and added a small amount of brown into her hair. In person, however, the contrast wasn't enough. This is where Photoshop comes in. Again, this is an optional step, but I wanted more contrast for me to consider this complete. So, I lightened up her hair and added a small amount of line work digitally to make it easier to discern her outline.
There you have it! That is how I did my Black Dahlia portrait. I have more pieces that have digital elements (or are completely digital) that I will make blog posts about soon. If you have any questions about tips and materials, or for inquiries about purchasing this piece, please feel free to comment or email me!
Sarah Bustillo is an illustrator from Los Angeles, CA. Her work delves into themes of femininity, death, and rebirth. She graduated from California State University Northridge in 2018 with a degree in Illustration and Anthropology.