I have a habit of taking quick digital photos of my projects in progress, and I can’t quite explain why, but looking at the in-progress work is really helpful for gaining perspective on what’s working vs what’s not working, and getting inspiration for what to attack next (it’s some combo of the color and lens distortion, and viewing the work in a much more compact form, that helps me). I find this to often be more valuable than just stepping back from a work, physically. For example I’ll look these photos over in bed before going to sleep. I think being aware of how your own work tends to progress is really educational and rewarding.
(And many times I’ll review photos of a project and think “oops should’ve quit a few photos before the end”)
I wonder if anyone has other tips or tricks on other nontraditional ways of “stepping back” (?)
Personally when I feel like I’m done with a piece I put it away for a day or two and when I come back to it I have a fresh perspective on what’s working and what isn’t. This is because for me after working on say the same portrait for hours everything just starts to feel ok, even though it may be completely off.
Throughout the days I also try not to look at it once I’m done with it for that day so that again when I start working on it the day after I’m more objective about it.
Another thing that helps me is zooming out a lot to see if it reads the same as the reference, but I think this is the equivalent of you taking a picture of your traditional piece with your phone.
Something else that you might consider is converting that photo to grey scale to check the values (something that I’m guilty of never doing even though I should :P)