Realistic painting has never really been my forte. Although I've been gradually improving over the past few years, most of my work, especially drawings of people, end up looking kind of cartoony and fake. However, after seeing some very impressive photorealistic artwork on the web, I REALLY wanted to be able to do the same. I read some tutorials, and didn't think I would ever be able to do it, but I decided to give it a shot.
As a first step, I knew I would have to copy some existing images, to study all the details, etc. before trying to create my own. I needed a subject, and since I was going for sort of a fantasy style anyway, I decided on this screen capture from The Fellowship of the Ring. This is Arwen, as played by Liv Tyler. It turned out to be a good starting point, as it's just her eyes, nose and hair, all of which can be challenging for a n00b to paint.
So after a LOT of work in Photoshop over the past 4 days, here is the final product, which I am VERY happy with. While I relied heavily on the original image for color samples, the bottom image IS 100% Photoshop 7. The painting (done with a Wacom Graphire, as almost all of my work is) was a bit different than what I'm used to, but what's awesome about Photoshop is that you're not limited to what you paint. You can move stuff around, resize, distort, add noise, make textures, etc...
Anyway, I've gone a bit long in this explanation, but this is quite a departure from my normal method. I hope to do more of these studies in the future, and eventually original work in the same style.