How to draw a female figure in Adobe Photoshop in 8 steps (with commentary).
1) Quick sketch
At first, try to draw as free as you can without any measuring. Your first impression is really important and defining for the whole latter work. But don’t forget about a composition in a page. If you work in digital media it’s not so difficult to fix, so. Proportions and size relations between body parts must be clarified and fixed after the free sketch stage. You can use a head or other part as a measure for other parts to check yourself the relations.
2) Line and silhouette
When the quick sketch is finished you can make its layer more transparent (30% opacity or so) and create a new layer. If you work in traditional media just try to make a sketch very light and use an eraser. Draw a thin contour line with more details on a new layer over the sketch.
3) Local tone
When the line layer is finished we don’t a sketch layer anymore. You can delete or hide it. Create a new layer under the line one. Decide which parts of your drawing are lighter and which are darker. Cover these parts in different shades of gray.
4) General form rendering
Create a new layer on top of the others. Now you can start to render the main shadows on the model and the chair, and also some light on a floor. I used a custom brush with 20-40% of opacity. The reference had very smooth lighting, so I needed to make all shadows very gentle. Think more with the construction of a body and less copy the reference tonal details.
5) Points of interest
In the long-term drawing (more than 1 hour) you need to emphasize with details and rendering all complex parts of a body: a head, hands, and feet. The head is a main point of interest because of it’s emotional and psychological values. So, try to make a head the most detailed part of a drawing.
6) Tonal contrasts
At this stage try to render all the main parts a figure to give it a three-dimensional illusion. Also, you can work a little bit with a background on the edges of body parts. It depends on lighting, but most often the right or the left edge of drawing object has more tonal contrast and another one is blurred and smooth in relation to the background.
7) Chair and big relations
The same rendering actions but with a chair at this step. I used some light strokes in highlights and dark strokes in shadows. Also, I made some large pourings to differentiate big relations between a head and some other parts of a body.
8) Final details and the background
Last step to finish a background and to add some details and accents. I decided to erase the wall side fracture and to make a room space a little bit wider. Some texture of floor planks was added. The figure was finished with highlights on a hair, closer leg, and a wrist. Some little details also were added to blur the edges in shadow parts and to give some better rendering in anatomy reasons.