I've been reviewing the forum for a few weeks. I am an absolute beginner with moderate goals but no talent. I'm doing this for fun. After weeks of dots, lines, daggers and eyes I am gradually improving. I've tried a couple of images (dog) with mediocre results. I've upgraded from a Chinese knock-off to an Iwata HP-CS but I think most of the problems come from between my ears. I've reviewed several forum works in progress as well as the excellent image decoding thread of a couple of years ago. It may be a matter of preference, but assuming one is painting on a white background, what is the best way to start? Do you use the lightest shade of your primary color and build up to the darkest (ie eyes, shadows) or do you do the eyes and shadows first and use them as a reference. Also, in the image decoding section AirbrushTutor created an Air-Lang image for a blend with the brush angled from the darkest to the lightest. That makes sense but he also comments several times that he always angles his brush toward the darkest area. In the absence of ability, I need enlightenment.