Here's a random faq, which is mostly just copying and pasting things I replied to with a few tweaks. Some replies are rather long so I will post links to those answers instead, but walls of text are inevitable for things I'm pasting from notes and stuff.
This is really long, so I think I should migrate these to formspring
or something. So I guess from now on if you have a question about anything art or otherwise, feel free to pop me a comment there. I'll try to reply when I can. [link]TOOLS
1. What do you do these in!?
Adobe Photoshop CS4 and Wacom Intuos 3. But any Photoshop should do. I use pretty basic functions mostly!
2. "Do you mind if I ask you what kind of brushes you used?"
I use a custom brush set, but stick to basics. Although I hardly look around now, it's very easy to google up and search for them all over the internet and at forums like conceptart.org. As for mine, it changes often, but usually I still have the brushset compiled by the super awesome James Paick.
My favorite multi-purpose brush though, is just the default round; give it pressure sensitivity for opacity and size only, and squash the angle into an oval brush when appropriate.
3. "How long do you spend on a picture?
As for time spent, it depends on every picture... it may take as little to an hour to spread out a bit over several days. Oftentimes I start things, forget about them for a long time, and pick it up again, so it's hard for me to measure. However there's a nice quote by Scott Robertson; when asked this question he would answer something along the lines of "40 years and five hours", because all of this is really cumulative, and if you are a hobbyist you really shouldn't stress yourself by competing against someone who dedicated their life to getting better at this. The time spent will lessen as you grow!TECHNIQUE
For starters, I occasionally do tutorial paintovers for other people. There are times that I see repeat characteristics in peoples works so I find it very educational to demonstrate directly onto a drawing, and others learn from seeing other peoples works. Here are a few that I find the most relevant to most people.
This one I posted on DA and covers my favorite brush, and some painting techniques. [link]
And another one I did on portrait painting and using refs [link]
And a small one on adding finishing touches [link]
And one on values, an easy way to punch your image [link]
Note that those things are pretty much shortcuts but you have to really try to figure out what you're doing and WHY you're doing it, too. Awareness of something will be the first step closer for you to compose it with deliberation. Happy mistakes and shortcuts can only bring you so far before the first becomes too unpredictable and the second becomes too formulaic.
1. Backgrounds escape me! Any tips on how you begin a project like this?
There are lots of different ways, one I like to do is to slap down blobs of colors and textures, warp and manipulate them, play with layer settings and so on, to find shapes that you might want to use. I also like to have a direction in mind, but with this kind of experimentation, it's great to keep an open mind and see where your "happy accidents with deliberate intent" and "controlled chaos" will take you.
2. For photoshop speedpainting, do you throw in textures as you go, at the end, or do them stroke by stroke?
Yes this was photoshop. Most of it is the simple default round brush, to get all the big moves down as well as the details on the bold/visible strokes. Then I threw some textures in, and start painting on top with the simple brush again (not a good idea to just throw on textures in the end and call it finished). Oftentimes you might sculpt back and forth with textured and simple brush. It's nice to have balance ￼
3. Just curious, do you paint in black and white to sort out the hue then colour over that... Or do you paint right into colour? ￼
4. Questions on composing with light and dark patterns:
"If we need to consider shadow shapes in our render, would we also have to consider light shapes? Or would those be the neutral, leftover shapes that are carved out from the shadow shapes, and ..."
Answers here: [link]
5. "How do you make your paintings have such a nice texture to them? When I paint, the result looks.. far too smooth.
Also, what settings/brushes do you use in Photoshop? I've been sticking to the default brushes, but I hear a lot about custom brushes, and I'm pretty confused."
(Relating back to my stuff from Nov 08, specifically "Commander of the 14th Division" [link]
Custom brushes-- As for what brush settings I use, it depends on my mood. As a result, I like to keep the BRUSHES window open for easy access. One favorite is the Watercolor Loaded Wet Flat Tip (default) which I sometimes put on Wet Edges mode. Another is the normal round brush with "Other Dynamics" enabled so that it has opacity sensitivity as well, and I like to change the angle and width of that brush under the Brush Tip Shape menu.
Custom brushes can go from making those kinds of tweaks to default brushes, or completely making new brushes. Try it out-- get a random photograph or even just make a random scribble on a blank document, then go Edit > Define Brush. Your canvas just became a new brush. Now play around with it-- tweak the scattering, the texture, everything to get a hang of the possibilities. Do the same with any custom brushes you download too-- play with its settings. "Customize" them.
Textures-- One way to get textures is to use a combination of freehand crosshatching and scribbling/scratching (a simple 1 pixel round brush at 100 percent) to manually add details and texture, especially for the sharp scratchy edges.
Another is to use custom brushes themselves; it's simple to download custom made brushes from the net or to make your own brushes using stock photos, like images of rocks or nature stuff or from traditional mediums. Googling or searching around resourceful places like Conceptart.org can lead to many options of custom brushes for download [link]
(However it's typically better to not get too many of them too early, since it's easy to get overwhelmed and overuse stuff. Like the whole lens-flare filter cliche.)
But I think an easier way to get large amounts of a more unified texture look is not to rely on brushes (which can become too repetitive or low resolution). Try overlaying large stock photos of walls or rocks or whatnot on top of your painting and see how that looks; play around with the layer blending settings and opacities. Ideally though (if you're into the whole "I didn't use photos" kind of thing), you could scan in textures you created yourself via traditional media, like paintings or chalk or graphite or even just camera grain from bad lighting !
Here's one way to approach digital painting :
original copic on vellum brought onto photoshop, where I simply played around with different blending modes until I got a composition I liked (also, the digital camera grain gave it a lot more texture, a lot of which you can still see in the final): [link]
Then started pulling shapes out of it [link]
A closeup [link]
So you can see that texture is a process of adding on top, over and over, back and forth-- a combination of texture with simple brush strokes, rather than one huge overlay or so of texture on top at the end or whatnot.ANYTHING TRADITIONAL MEDIUM-RELATED:
1. "What brushes do you use for watercolor?
For these I used Winsor Newton Watercolor brushes [link]
I usually use size 6 ~ 8ish, round. If you have a bigger budget you can get the Series 7 brush, supposedly those are the best (but also among the most expensive). Real animal hair is the best (as opposed to synthetic brush hairs) since they generally come to better points and the natural textures of the hair lets the brush carry more water/paint. [link]
I'd go with sable (Kolinsky sable-hair) brushes
2. How do you control ink and water color so well? I always screw up whenever I try to use them...
It's one of those things that you keep doing until you get better at it...
As for this pen and ink, maybe the right materials will help; you definitely can't get such natural pen variation with, say, inking markers and pens. I used a metal nib (i used the Manga G nib [link]
with Higgins black ink. This one is nice since you can get a nice variety of pen width, and you can scratch back and forth on the paper, a very Kley-like trait (some other nibs may stab through the image if you try to push back, and so only allow you to make one-way strokes, etc)... .
As for watercolor, a lot of it is knowing practical color theory; knowing how wet or how dry your brush should be for the appropriate strokes; and knowing when to put down the brush (how wet or dry the area is when making another stroke really matters). Also, on the color theory part, one thing that really helped my watercolor is limiting your palette. The less colors you use to make new colors with, the more united your whole image is.ART EDUCATION
1. How long have you been doing this for
Been drawing for "as long as I've lived", which I guess is around 19 years. But pretty much since '04 is when I went digital and drew even more, and since '07 (junior year of high school) is when I decided to do art as a major/career.
2. Where did you learn all of this/What is your education background? "
I learned a lot of this stuff through self study through my earlier years. Trial and error, painting for fun and pushing yourself to try new things, outdo your previous drawings, and thus discovering new things is a great way to learn. Starting 2007 is when I felt the real urge to take my hobbies a step further, and I started taking classes a few years ago at several places at once on top of high school and city college, to seek out specific teachers and classes. Marshall Vandruff and Kevin Chen are among the top teachers who've influenced me
and The Concept Design Academy in Pasadena and The Animation Guild in North Hollywood are two places I went to. In the improvement meme deviation in my gallery, there's a slightly more specific description with a visual representation of my discoveries and education.
3. "Are there any tutorials or classes I should look into?
I believe they are a great help to anyone, and very easily accessible. You do NOT have to go to art school for education or to get a career. It'll just take more self discipline but one can do it, with the help of books and tutorials and human resources.
I am fortunate enough to have access to classes and to look up tutorials when I want something that's not covered in my typical studies, so I am generally proccupied enough with trying to soak in what I learn from classes instead of taking the further extra second mile to look up tutorials.
But... As for the hobbyist who is not satisfied with mediocrity, but is unable or unwilling to dedicate their entire career to art education and career, then tutorials and vids and whatnot are a very important source! No one has any excuse that they can't find information on how to improve... because there is so much out there, for FREE, and so many qualified artists willing to share. Much more than any of those masters could even DREAM of having back in their times.
As for classes, they will vary greatly depending on where you live. If you don't live somewhere that has many art resources (such as Southern California) it may mean you might have to largely depend on online resources like conceptart.org. Still, even local city colleges (which I've done and recommend) is a cheap and convenient place to take life drawing classes where you can draw from life, and to expand your horizons (try sculpting, basic design, color theory, painting, etc). Never hurts to study the basics, because that's the foundation that you're gonna be depending on to make your sci fi warriors and dragons look believable with.
As for studies, I recommend going the traditional, classical training. And here are some book reviews by Marshall Vandruff (as mentioned earlier) www.marshallart.com . If you get the chance, do yourself a huge favor and sit in on as many of his seminars as you can.
And just keep drawing. Having great tutorials and classes will not matter if you don't have the right mindset. Plenty of people come across great resources but only a minority will actually learn and utilize them. There's a lot of discipline, sacrifice, and focus required to get the most out of those things. I'm sure you'll naturally come across the appropriate tools and resources along the way when you're ready for them, because then you'd be seeking out whatever gaps you feel are necessary to fix.
And remember to have fun while you do it. It's a labor of love ￼
And very importantly, when looking for classes, teachers, workshops and seminars nearby you, and make sure you pick the right teachers (I've learned all too well that teachers make up a HUGE part of whether a class is successful for you or not.)4. "I have a massive art block I don't know what to do??"
As for a huge block-- that's all right. Sounds stupid to say but yes, we do have them, but we pick up and move on. It's like recovering from a flu; when you do get better, you'll feel a lot stronger from it. (Ideally.) IMHO they're the necessary Downs that comes along with every Up; they're trials and tests to see if this really is the path to you want to prove yourself with.
...Course, don't mean that it doesn't suck while you're stuck in it though, lol