About a month ago, I scrolled over a collection of images that featured marine life and started to notice a glowing effect on the creatures with specks surrounding them. I wanted to try and recreate that look in my digital paintings. It’s now over a month into this painting experiment and things are looking a lot better.
I started painting with a photo of Krysten Ritter to test my idea using both dark and light backgrounds. The result turned out very interesting so I took it a step further.
Keeping the rough sketch (so I don’t get distracted trying to perfect everything), I added some color, more specks of different sizes, and a better background. After this test, I noticed that the tiny specks would look better behind the figure and having a multi colored background could result in a more dynamic image.
With that thought in mind, I turned to bokeh styled photography. I kept ten different pictures when trying to mimic that style and only two of them were anything close to what I wanted, but I can work on perfecting that style later. The 10 images were adjusted in Photoshop, making them completely out of focus.
Later that day, I was looking around on Instagram when I came across an image of a forest that Justis Comics posted asking, “Where is your favorite place to get away from it all?”
I responded, “Deep into a bowl of fresh salsa.”
Shortly after, I got a message from the person running their page stating that she loved my work and wanted to know if I would like to be featured on her page. I was stunned! Nobody’s ever offered that before. She was so kind to me that I asked if it was okay for me to draw and post an image of the main character from the comic the Instagram page was covering; Whisper. This was a really fun experience!
The result was better than I had imaged and allowed me another opportunity to practice digital painting. I plan on getting past keeping the outlines, but for now they stay.
These paintings have shown me a few different things:
- How to paint small.
- How I like my Intuos Pro setup.
- How to create a favorite paintbrush.
- How to sit in the living room and paint, digitally, from the couch.
One of the methods developed in this process was zooming out to paint (painting small). I first learned about this method in one of the many Ctrl+Paint tutorials. If you haven’t been to Matt Kohr’s website, I highly recommend it. Not an affiliate, I’m just a super grateful fan of his artwork and tutorials.
First, I put down the flat colors on separate layers (e.g. hair, skin, shirt), clean up edges, then lock each layer by selecting lock transparent pixels, and then zoom out so the image is about four inches tall on the screen. The smaller image allows me to focus on the whole image instead of all the details. From there, I start to pick and choose the colors, re-sampling and blending to make everything come together smoothly. Since the transparent pixels are locked, I’m not worried about making a streak that goes out of the designated area and I can paint in big strokes and tiny ones, right along the edge.
As I painted this way, I started realizing what kinds of actions my express keys needed on my Intuos tablet. From top to bottom (touch ring is clockwise):
- Screen Mode
- On Screen Keyboard
- Flip Horizontally
- Touch Ring (Brush Size, Rotate Canvas, Switch Colors, Cycle Layers)
- New Layer
- Right Click
I am really enjoying the new setup, however, it would be great to know what others have their ring set as. Having the brush size adjustment is perfect, rotate canvas is hardly used because it can be rotated using the tablet’s surface, and the last two sit there unused. Let me know what your settings are in the comments!
New favorite paintbrush:
Angle Jitter: Pen Tilt
Transfer: Pen Pressure
Utilizing the pen tilt feature on my tablet allows me to continuously change the angle as if it were a charcoal or graphite stick, something I use frequently.
I went on to make one more painting. Honestly, it turned out super cheesy and I apologize for that, but it was fun.
I have yet to create an image of a glowing creature emerging from the dark in the way I had imagined and will keep trying, but so far the end result looks better with a light background. More practice and creative thinking. It will be mine. Oh yes, it will be mine.
Have a great day and thanks for reading!