Texturing – Digital Painting

Every second week this semester we gather together, mostly to paint digitally in photoshop and to explore painting techniques, colour, art and ways of creating textures.

While textures for 3D are often made by starting with photography, it is really handy to have the skills to paint from life.
Especially for me with a background in photo-manipulation rather than art creation as such, it is all too easy to rely on photography to a ‘paint with’. So in these examples, I am painting from life – no photo reference.
This forces us to try to see the colours, what happens when you change one colour? how does it influence the colour next to it? how does it look as a composition –

In this example, I select a physical wood sample that the lecturer has bought in and try to recreate the look. With the wood block beside me on the desk, I just start observing and painting in photoshop, starting with a base colour, then trying to figure out exactly the right colour for each component, one part at a time –
Above is a step by step of the process I went on, and below is the end result-
It is quite therapeutic to really study something and make the marks on an empty canvas rather than starting with a photo. It also allows you to make it exactly the way you want and to think about the effect of colour, bump, specular etc. as separate elements and how you might like to use them as different ‘passes’ in a render.

This week I am attempting to paint flowers that we picked outside and brought into class
This time I start with a loose sketch for composition, then build it up in stages. I paint each section as a new transparent layer. I am trying to ignore the technology inside photoshop and to just observe and paint. I see this exercise not as making a beautiful digital painting but to observe and learn something about the flower (sorry if that sounds too zen).
above is a few steps in the process, its easy to add a shadow underneath if you have been painting onto new layers rather than a white base layer. Below is the final-


This week another flower but I work a little bit differently, from the background forward. I start with a background colour and work to the foreground detail – I find it easier. It reduces the amount of masking required and just lets you paint, naturally overlaying what is underneath it – the same way as oil paint. I keep separate shapes as layers so that if for instance one of the outer petals need more shadowing at the end- it is already isolated
Above is some steps in the process and here is the final-

So far, I have been ignoring the more technical aspects and just painting with simple brushes. While this is great for improving observation skills and art theory, at some point you need to make use of the great and more complex brush tools in photoshop for speed and texture.
Its been a long time since I pulled these features out of the draw in Photoshop so I decide to do an exercise to re-familiarize myself –
I choose a textural element that will lend itself  to a complex shape – a feather and begin designing a brush. Then I will assign some properties that will assist in painting a bird image in a quicker and easier way without having to make every single stoke manually.
I paint a black and white feather shape, and tinker with it using smudge brushes and motion blurs until I get the hairs looking just right. Then I give it some falloff in opacity –
I capture it as a brush preset and play with the settings until it does what I want. I map the angle to direction so that the stroke direction follows my strokes. I also use the scatter settings to control the randomness of the flow.
Now I break my rules from earlier posts and find an image to select some colours from so that I can see how effectively the brush does what I need it to –
This is the photo reference I have chosen, just for the colours (my brush will be much furrier than this guys tight crop)
I sample colours from the image and lay it down with my brush in a similar pattern –
above are some steps along the way, and here is a close-up –
I change and vary the scatter and angle settings as I go along, but this is all using one brush!
I could get a more sophisticated result if I made several different brushes and used them with a bit more subtlety but too much else to do right now – I might have to come back to that later!


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