Short answer is photoshop, inspiration and a lot of practice! For a longer answer I've done a few little walkthroughs and progress gifs, and in my faves there's a lot of better walkthroughs by other artists.
I am *BACK*! Didn't have time before to really say just how much I love this picture of yours, but I promised myself I'd come back and say so because I knew I would want to ask for permission to share this on a Facebook fanpage I admin called Mass Effect Female Shepard: [link]
For starters: it *looks* real. The cuts and grazes on her face are really well done, and on top of the fact that she looks a little Indian in face shape and colour (no idea if that was intentional but it's lovely to see because non-white Shepards seem pretty rare in fanart), it almost looks like she's either a little hot and sweaty or got a little grime on her - like she *really did* just fight her way to where she is right now. I guess the uniform could *maybe* do with being a bit more grubby, but I am *not* going to complain because that is only an afterthought, after about 4 viewings of your picture going "Wow!". XD
As for her expression that was the first thing that hit me. She truly looks haunted by what she's seen, and as a young woman, like the weight of true responsibility has just landed on her shoulders full force. She looks worried. The kind of worry that says "I lost someone along the way, could I have saved them?" and "I know this is just the start of it - there's going to be more. So much more... and I'm going to have to face it." as well as being a little tired.
Anyway that's what I wanted to come back and say. Oh and please, please could I add this gorgeous picture of yours to our Facebook albums for FemShep artwork?! I promise to refer to you as artist and link back to your original here..?
Hiya, thanks for all the lovely comments! I've been away for a few days, but this was very nice to come back to
Feel free to share any of my femshep stuff on the facebook group - I just liked it this morning, so I'll keep an eye out! As long as you credit me and/or link back to the original here then I don't mind where you share it. Femshep is basically my one true love anyway, so I'll keep spamming my gallery with paintings of her for the foreseeable future. Hope you like them!