Critique => 2D & 3D => Topic started by: floralfatigue on March 20, 2017, 11:40:16 am

Title: Digital Painting within a style
Post by: floralfatigue on March 20, 2017, 11:40:16 am
Hi all, This is my first time posting art on an online forum as I recently got into 'digital painting'. The medium is quite new for me as I am used to tradition media, and just finished making a lot of abstract art.

Basically what I'm trying to do is to gain skill in painting all kinds of material, textures etc... and the final goal is to be able to do so in my style (expressionist/lots of colours etc) but i'm coming up against a block as the kind of ' gestural' approach doesn't really work on digital media.

This one is quite realistic but it took REALLY long - which wouldn't be a problem except I found my self overworking


or has a gestural feel but then the brush strokes are way to visible for my liking (another example below).


Can anyone possibly give some suggestions as to exercises / approaches to creating an image that is efficient?

It might help to mention that I try focus on negative space when creating the image as I have a background in life drawing... this helps a bit when drawing from life but not so much from an image as I find myself having to go back and fix colour, but then messing up form etc.

All help is appreciated!

Title: Re: Digital Painting within a style
Post by: eishiya on March 20, 2017, 12:21:47 pm
I think this kind of style works just fine digitally, you just need to find the appropriate tools for it. I don't know your technique for it in traditional media, but you may need to adjust it for digital painting - the two are different media, afterall. It might've helped to post an example of your traditional work so people could know what you're going for.

Here's a bunch of assorted tips that might be relevant:

Work from general to detail, back to front. Perhaps utilize separate layers for the background and figure if you want to go back and work on the background later - it looks like you're spending a lot of time painting the background around the figure and then ending up with a halo around it. If you start from the background or keep it on a layer underneath the figure, that won't be a problem.

For doing lots of colours, it might help to start with flat colours and soften from there. Don't smudge though - pick yet more colours for the blending and brush it in. Then after that, add detail. picking colours you already have.
Blocking in is good in general, do that instead of jumping straight to blending.
Block in with a textured brush with pressure = size, and no opacity control. That'll feel nicer and less artificial and it'll prevent you from being wasting time overly refining the shapes of your blocked in colours, and the lack of easy opacity control will prevent you from starting to render too early.

Use a hard-edged brush for most of your painting. Create softness through large low-opacity brush strokes, not with the edges of your brush. It's true that it'll give you some visible brush strokes, but if you use a large hard-edged brush, these'll manifest more as texture than actually visible brush strokes. If you really need to make things even smoother than what you can achieve with low-opacity strokes, do that in a separate pass with a soft or low-opacity brush.
(Photoshop, but this might be an option in other programs too.) For a smooth look, have the spacing on your brushes set low, so there isn't obvious "stamping".

On a related note,  don't underestimate the size of the brush you can use for a given task. Don't do with two strokes what you can do with one! You can always refine the exact shape later, but you'll get a smoother and faster result of you drop an entire object down with one brush stroke. Need to paint in an arm? Make your brush as wide as that arm! Need to shade an arm? Make the brush as wide as that shadow, plop it in, refine the details later, after you've blocked everything else in.

Do not have the brush change both size and opacity with pressure, as this will make it hard to blend and to render detail. If you want the size to fade out a bit, then set the minimum size to something high like 70-80%. Personally, I keep size control turned off.

Utilize selections when you want something sharp-edged that's smooth inside. This is probably the biggest difference to most traditional painting, it's more like airbrushing with custom stencils - the selection/stencil defines your edges, and you can go to town making things smooth with a large brush without worrying about the edges becoming too soft.
You can use selections when doing details as well, it's not just for whole objects.

Utilize layers. Then you can lock their transparency to maintain edges or prevent bleed-over. You can always flatten your layers later when you want to paint on both without using yet more layers. I usually usually end up with flat paintings (or occasionally with layers for my background, midground, and foreground), but I employ many short-lived layers for things like texture and colour tweaks, and for refining shapes. Being able to toggle the visibility of a layer is very helpful to make sure the things I'm working on are actually helping. That's especially useful for detail work, which might be too noisy zoomed out.

(Photoshop) Set the blending gamma higher so that the colours aren't so muddy when you blend them. The default gamma is appropriate for photos, not for painting. Edit > Color Settings -> "More Options" -> check "Blend Colours Using Gamma" and set the value to 2.2.
Title: Re: Digital Painting within a style
Post by: floralfatigue on March 20, 2017, 02:05:13 pm
Hey -

Thanks so much.

I read through this and I can see I need to spend a few afternoons focussing on each of these things.

Thanks so much!