Sunday, 29 July 2012

How It's Done - 01

I've been considering getting back into painting, both digital and traditional, and I've been talking to artists online about what tools, software and techniques they use. During the discussion, someone sent me this link, and I thought I'd share it as a good example of how you can combine the digital with the traditional. The work in question is by John Picacio, and illustrates Bran Stark of the Game of Thrones series atop his home of Winterfell. The full piece is here, but it's interesting to see how Picacio got from this;

to this;

It's always fascinating finding out how other artists work, and it's nice to see an artist admitting the use of photographic references!

Do you use references, and do you prefer to work digitally or traditionally?

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

#Tutorial - Smudge Painting

I love a spot of digital painting, but if truth be told, I'm not very good at it. However, I'm not keen on using Photoshop's Filters menu to 'fake' a painting as they never look particularly convincing. I first found this method in Photoshop Creative magazine years ago, and I've adapted it slightly to suit my own needs. This tutorial will demonstrate how I use nothing more than the Smudge Tool and a canvas texture to turn a photograph into a painting.

So choose your photo and let's go! I chose this photo of a rose, taken some time ago in the Alnwick Garden.

I used the split toning technique from last week to add blue tones. I've also cropped it to choose a particular point of interest.

Next, create a new layer above the background - rename it 'canvas'. Fill this with any bright colour - you'll switch it off and on so you can see which parts of the photo still need to be painted. For now, turn the layer off. Create a blank layer above this called 'painting'.

Now you need to grab the Smudge Tool. Load the Wet Media brushes that come with Photoshop, and choose one - I've gone for a brush with a wide tip. Set the strength to between 30-40%, and select the Sample All Layers box.

Click the 'painting' layer to make it active. Start 'painting' by smudging across areas of the photograph. I find it helps to follow lines, and fill in the spaces afterwards. If you smudge from dark to light areas, you'll get a nice painterly effect.

Keep going, turning the 'canvas' layer on and off to see which bits you've missed. Make sure you turn it off before smudging or the Smudge Tool will sample colour from that layer as well.

Et voila, the finished image!

There's just two more steps that I've taken. First of all, I've pasted a canvas texture over the top and set the blending mode to Multiply. I've also altered the Brightness/Contrast of this layer so the canvas shows up a bit. Then, I created a signature in Illustrator, pasted this into the image, and set the blending mode to Multiply.

If you've had a go, why not post a link to the finished piece in the comments?

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

#Tutorial - Split Toning

A couple of weeks ago, I had a look at split toning as part of a general overview of techniques, but today I thought I'd post a quick tutorial as to how I actually achieved the effect. It's very, very simple and takes just minutes, and can really add 'punch' to an image!

First off, grab your chosen image. I'm using a photo I took several years ago of a rose - I'm also using Photoshop CS5 but I'm pretty sure this works even in CS3.

Now, go to Image > Adjustments > Black and White. Normally I'd use a black and white gradient map to achieve a monochrome effect but this option gives more flexibility, and you can drag the sliders until you achieve your desired 'black and white'.

The image is black-and-white, so you can start introducing the colour. Go to Image > Adjustments > Colour Balance, and alter the sliders until you achieve the colour you're after.

There, done! Didn't I say it was easy?

If you've had a go, post a link to the results in the comments so I can have a look!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Photoshop Flowers

I'm always on the lookout for good tutorials that demonstrate how to create artwork from scratch in Photoshop. Given I teach a range of abilities, it's nice to find tutorials that look difficult, but are actually fairly simple, as long as you have a grasp of the basics. The below flowers piece was created with the wind stylization filter, the warp, distort and perspective functions within the Transform menu, and the Pen Tool. You can find the whole tutorial here, and if you've got a spare 10-20 minutes, it's well worth a go.