Sunday, 6 January 2013

010 Painting Process, Brushes and Tools

I posted some quick sketches this week on deviantArt and someone there asked me, if I would consider to do a speedvideo of my painting process, because he would always get good sketch results with pencil, but because Photoshop can be quite confusing with its millions of tools, his sketches lack digitally.
I watched lots of these kind of videos and I really can say, I learnt nothing really essential from them. It´s nice to see how someone goes about and see the creation of a painting, but seeing it sped up to 10x speed, you really can´t tell what important processes are happening.

I am however considering to do some tutorials within the next months (once I get better and to a level, where I feel, I can teach something about painting...)

Photoshop can be a taunting application, especially for someone who hasn´t used it a lot. One advice would be to find good video tutorials of all the tools in Photoshop, so know what you can and can´t do with them. The tools for painting I use frequently (or all the time) are:

Learn these tools, combined with a knowledge of how layers and layer blending modes work and you have the basic technical knowledge for drawing digitally. The key is practice here. I do not even think about the functions of each tool anymore, because I just intuitively select and use what is right.

Speaking about brushes. The brush tool is the single most important tool for the digital artist, but most people just simply overestimate the brushes or brush collections. Having cool brushes is neat, sure, but it is not the brush that creates art! You can paint anything with just a single brush! That brush would be the hard round brush. Sure there are nice texture brushes for foliage, rocks, chains, etc. but they just save time and won´t turn a bad painting into something wonderful. Your knowledge of the basic drawing skills (perspective, line quality, proportions, anatomy, form, etc.) is what makes your art good. So practice those!

There is a difference in drawing with a pencil and drawing digitally. I sometimes still have the feeling, that my pencil drawings are easier done than a digital sketch, but that is simply because of the way how you draw with a tablet. Drawing on a piece of paper, you always look on the paper, seeing your pencil making marks. With a tablet, you look in a different direction than where you are drawing. But this is nothing that can´t be fixed. The key again is practice. Draw as much as you can digitally, no matter how bad it looks and learn about line quality.

Line quality is a term that refers to how confident your lines are drawn and how much "weight" the line has. Here is what I mean (not a perfect example :) :

1: Here the line is draw with smaller lines consecutively drawn. Avoid this!
2: The line here is one single stroke
3: Line weight is applied here. The darker/thicker lines on the cube indicate shadow.

This also needs to be observed for traditional drawing! So you see, that line weight can indicate light and shadow without rendering areas.

To achieve a more confident stroke, draw from your elbow and shoulder rather than with your wrist or fingers.

Here is a little process shot for a painting a did:

So from top left to bottom right, here is my process for this painting:

1: Establish a composition, perspective and creating focal points (the creatures head). Keep the sketch very loose and messy, as the lines will be covered by paint.

2: Create a color palette and a basic lighting scheme. Also keep it messy. No details whatsoever! You need to get the overall picture right. Work from general to specific.

3: Refine the lighting scheme and start blocking in basic color

4: Slight correction of perspective and tidying up the background color blocks

5: Working on the creature, blocking in colors and shading in one go (light from the lamp, core shadow and light from the offscreen window)

6: Blocking in colors for the girl. each area only has one color value

7: Base shading of the girl with shadow and highlights

8: Detail is added (eyes on the creature, plant pot, blood stains) and some texture overlay is worked into the painting

9: Cleanup and detailing work (lightest highlights, etc...)

Regarding painting processes:

I seldomly use a fixed concept for painting. This process above was used for this specific painting. Sometimes I make a refined line drawing after the sketch phase, sometimes I use no lines at all. There is no fixed procedure.

Hopefully someone gets some knowledge out of this post. Feel free to ask, if you have any questions.