Aissa and I have been watching Donato Giancola's tutorial for the past couple of days and i wanted to do a quick plug for it while it's still on sale. It's an excellent value since it originally cost $60 and can now be had for only $7.99. Since these files were originally released on a DVD they're pretty huge so be prepared for some lengthy download times. I was initially quite surprised that Aissa was drawn into the video since I always feel like art tutorials can be very boring for someone who isn't an art practitioner. I'd just been watching on my own when she plopped down on the couch and within minutes was absorbed in the video enough that she was concerned that I'd watch it without her. Perhaps that's testament enough to how good the tutorial is, but I'll try to go into it in a little more depth here.
Donato goes through his entire process of creating a painting, from photographic reference using a model and still life(s?) to a more refined drawing which he then scans and transfers onto the masonite which will hold his final painting. Throughout the tutorial (we're only halfway through btw) he drops some very useful advice about portaiture, lighting and color, and his thought process when painting. I like that he's very liberal with his use of reference material, since there's a stigma among many non professional artists that using reference materials is "cheating". However he does take pains to say that one should not be a "slave" to reference material, only borrowing from it to help establish your painting more firmly in reality but also knowing when to ignore the reference to suit your own needs.
Digital artists may be hesitant because it's a tutorial about an oil painting, but don't let that deter you. While I do have aspirations to one day try out oil painting in the future, I can already see ways that I can incorporate his techniques in photoshop by using layers and possibly artrage, which more closely mimics traditional media. I will also reference this video a lot when I have trouble with choosing colors, especially when painting skin tones and metallic textures because he goes pretty in-depth into discussing what he's doing when he's painting the mechanic's face and armor. He also spends quite some time talking and painting a galaxy as the background for his subject, which is something I'm sure I'll find useful down the line when I try out some science fiction work.
As I said I'm only halfway through but I highly encourage anyone interested in painting science fiction covers, using reference material properly, and learning about light and color to download this tutorial while it's still at the bargain basement price of $7.99.
Update: Definitely get this if you want insight into how light reflects on mettalic objects. Donato explains that it doesn't always work the way we logically think it does!