DIGITAL PAINTING

I always get asked how I digitally paint on the computer. So I decided to create this overview to give people an understanding of the my Digital Painting process. Digital Painting requires just as much skill as any other form of painting and the main principles are essentually the same. The main benefits to digital painting, apart form undo, are the layers. Working in layers allows you to go back, refine and adjust any stage of the painting at anytime. I like to create a new layer for each stage of the painting. This gives me the option to go back to any layer at any stage.

The first step is to start painting the base colours. The base colours are essentially your areas of light and shadow. I try to start with shades that are close but contrasting. I start with two colours and base the rest of the painting around these. I start of with the light colour, covering the whole image. I then apply the darker shade. The important part of this process is to clearly establish your light source and shadows with these base undercoats. See Figure 4.1 and 4.2.

Figure 4.1Figure 4.2
Figure 4.1Figure 4.2

For the next step I turn of the my outlines and start to refine the main areas of the painting. I start by giving the fingers and the hand more shape and form. I purposely keep the fingers very simple as I will add the detail later on, making sure that the areas are more defined. One of the main benefits to digital painting, apart form undo button, are the layers. Working in layers allows you to go back, refine and adjust any stage of the painting at anytime. I like to create a new layer for each stage of the painting. This gives me the option to go back later on. Figure 5.1 is the base layer of the painting and Figure 5.2 is the next layer which I called "hand detail". This is where I have started to outline the folds and creases in the hand as well as more accurately define the shadow and light areas.

Figure 5.1Figure 5.2
Figure 5.1Figure 5.2

Once I am happy with the detail of the base hand layer, I then move onto the fingers. As above I have started working on a new Layer I start working in the detail with a larger brush refining the shapes, the edges and the main areas of light and shadow. See Figure 6.1 and 6.2.

Figure 6.1Figure 6.2
Figure 6.1 Figure 6.2


From here I begin to define the edges of the finger through shading. I start with the dark colour on the edge and work back to the lighter colours towards the top, to create the shape and depth of the finger. For the below images only three colours are used to shade. These colours are blended together.

Now I will start to emphasize the lighter areas as well as the highlights and shadows, I tend to use finer brushes for this part to create more defined edges, such as the darker lines around the finger nail in Figure 7.2. As you can see the finger nail starts to take shape by outlining the area with thin lines of a darker shade. This is further illustrate by adding the base highlights to the nail.

Figure 7.1Figure 7.2
Figure 7.1Figure 7.2

The following steps to create the detail are done using smaller brushes and harder lines. As a rule I never use black but rather a darker shade of the colour your defining. For the folds and creases a broad brush is used over the crease line, then a much finer brush is used to define the dark crease line. I then use a light colour on the edge just to show more depth .I continue to add the detail refining the shapes and working on the shading. This is a gradual process until the level of detail you require is achieved. See Figures 8.1 and 8.2.

The final stage is all about detail and finishing off the highlight areas, making sure they stand out in the correct areas and are not too obvious. I tend to refine the final highlights again at the very end.

Figure 8.1Figure 8.2
Figure 8.1Figure 8.2

The same process is used on the remaining fingers. In Figure 9.2 I have completed the ring finger, make sure that each finger starts on a new layer so that you can edit them later on if needed.

Figure 9.1Figure 9.2
Figure 9.1Figure 9.2

Now that we have completed the fingers in Figure 10.1, the bulk of the work is done. Using layers I can now easily add the finger shadow layer above the base hand layer, placing the shadows underneath the fingers. I have kept my shadows subtle as I want them to blend in more, rather than stand out. As shown in the figure 10.2.

Figure 10.1Figure 10.2
Figure 10.1Figure 10.2

Now for the ring. With chromic objects the most important parts are the highlights, reflections and contrast. I start off with simple base highlight lines. As seen in Figure 11.1. I then begin adding the reflections into the ring. As I want the ring to blend in I do not use any silvers or grays. I just use light and dark variations of the colours that are already used in fingers and hand. I have also added some black areas for contrast to define the edges of the ring. With the chromic look I found that the reflection edges between the colours need to be a solid line with very minimal blending. See Figure 11.2.

Figure 11.1Figure 11.2
Figure 11.1Figure 11.2

The next step is to more accurately define the reflections by painting stronger edges. The ring itself needs refining with black in the grooves and around the ring edges. I then re-work the highlights making them stronger and more contrasting. See Figure 12.1 and 12.2.

Figure 12.1Figure 12.2
Figure 12.1Figure 12.2

Finally, the rest is just more detail and more refinement using very thin sharp lines. See Figure 13.1 and 13.2

Figure 13.1Figure 13.2
Figure 13.1Figure 13.2

From here on it’s all about the detail. You can go as far as you want adding more and more, it just takes time. In Figure 14.2 I have continued to add detail to the image. I did this by adding adding skin lines and highlights, I also refined and sharpened my lines and colours giving more detail to all the creases, folds and fingers.

Figure 14.1Figure 14.2
Figure 14.1Figure 14.2

Finally I have adjusted the contrast and brightness of the image. Below is the final image, Figure 15.0.

Figure 15.0
Figure 15.0

I hope that this has been helpful and gives you an understanding of how digital painting.

<Written by: Shaun Schellings

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