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January 2, 2013
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The art of NOT using smudge tool beforehand...

:iconyagaminator:
yagaminator Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
So, how on earth can people withstand the agony of not using the smudge tool until they have comepletely used all their values, during the creation of a digital artwork!??! I am obsessed with using it, ofc its a bad thing, because I cant seem to "calculate" the final result without smudging and doing all that stuff :(. Please is there anyway I could "train" this? I want to learn to use values before starting to smudge all over the place and instead of getting something that I want to focus on in the drawing, get unfocused and seem like its something in the background :(.
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Devious Comments

:iconstraightx:
straightx Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Working in gray scale can help a lot. If you don't have a strong sense of color it'll act against you. With gray scale all you have to worry about is values.
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:iconmattcombsart:
MattCombsArt Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2013
just dont use the tool anymore. Period...get away from it. Laarn to do paint without it. I dont and never used the smudge tool. I never felt like i had complete control over the painting, it wouldnt look good or feel right when blending. It can be done easily without one. Using pen pressures and different combos of hard and soft brushes to paint with. Youll just need to learn to paint it out and use other brushes to blend things out instead of smudging it. ill do my paintings with only using the brush tool. You dont need to smudge tool at all. it lame imo.
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:iconyagaminator:
yagaminator Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yeah, I painted one of my latest deviations without it and it came out pretty good for a beginner using only values! Thanks for the tips though ^^!
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:iconmattcombsart:
MattCombsArt Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2013
ya just keep at it. In time youll figure it all out just..Keep it up!
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:iconyagaminator:
yagaminator Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks! ^^
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:iconjiiri:
Jiiri Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2013  Student General Artist
I used it when I first started out with digital programs. Over time my style started to become a lot more 'painterly' and the smudge tool makes you lose values in the colors and doesn't mix with my style well. Instead I started mimicking 'smudging' by just choosing an in-between color (or several of them.) It's pretty difficult to get rid of habits or change them, but it'll be fine once you start and get used to a new method. :)
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:icontomvanrheenen:
tomvanrheenen Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Using the smudge tool in an early phase often results in lack of colorvariation. In skintones there should be green hues, pink hues, greyish tones, etc. Often you see an artist basing a portrait on 3 colors, just highlights, midtones and darks. But when aiming for a realistic painting, you need to add a lot more colors. Smudging doesn't add these colors.

Now as to regarding this topic, I don't really know what to say. Stop using it :p Have your mum or roommate hit you every time they see you using your smudgetool, I dunno.
And don't think it's always bad, I know some great painters that use smudgetool, but they use it more often to stretch their colors, rather then blending colors together. With stretching I mean they already have a nice variety of colors, and they want to expand that palet, for example for rocks, using the smudge tool at a very high percentage.
Do as you wish, I would advice you not to mind people who find it amateurish, because if you can create great paintings using the smudgetool, why not? But I would suggest getting down the essentials first, and leave the smudgetool out for now. Maybe it makes its return later ;)
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:iconoliveandrews:
OliveAndrews Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013
I think it's all a matter of preference. You could call it your technique. Some artists advise others to build guide lines to draw a face. A oval, with a vertical line down the middle of the face, and a horizontal line across the eye mark. Some people stick by this method religiously, and will tell others they are "incorrect" for starting on something like the eye and building outward.
I think as long as you are satisfied with the finished piece there is no need to criticize it. Don't fix what doesn't need fixing right? Then again different techniques help build skill, but ultimately I think we all tend to have our preferences for techniques.
I myself don't use guide lines for drawing figures. I don't draw a guide line center of balance, direction of movement, I just draw. I visualize the shape, and I just draw it. Sometimes I will make a few very small sketches to get a visual of what I want as the final, bigger product.
Anyways, I don't think there is any "right or wrong" in this shading technique, just different ways of doing things.
Btw, have you considered Paint Tool SAI for your blending, works much better than photoshop. It has a great flow to it. ^___^
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:iconyagaminator:
yagaminator Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I see what you mean and your point is very good. You see, I am curious when it comes to new things ( I have just started painting in photoshop with my tablet ) and
always want to test out various techniques before I choose one. I felt that smudging is quite good when it comes to colouring the skin and so on!! Thanks for the comment ^^!
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:iconkittysophie:
kittysophie Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013  Student Digital Artist
idk i use that tool alot XD helps me blend the colors better i use the blending tool on painter 12 to make more paint like pictures :D
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:iconnarutokunobessed:
narutokunobessed Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013  Student General Artist
Ok, people are not understanding what the smudge tool is for. YOu have to remeber that photoshop was mainly built for photo and panting, and there are reasons why the smudge tools and many tools were built. So the smudge is to erase blemishes and stuff. Just look up tutorials and see how some pros use it for other things besides painting. And it almost goes the same way for painting, only its texture we don't want.

The reason we wait for smudging is that values are the important thing and having some sharpness in the painting or picture. We are concentrating on construction and giving it form, not smudging it to death. Blurriness and smudging makes it less really and maybe a less thought provoking picture if you do it before adding the values. However, the blurryness makes up for contrast and is ment for smoothing out certain texture. In other words, its for simplfying and creating contrast or creating certain dynamics style, not to blend values together.

A good example that smudging is ok in small quantities is my lightning picture. I don't recally which areas were smudge. I think most of it was smudge with a blending stump or the traditional tool for smudging, but I still kept in mind making the values crisp and clear. The hair I remember was smudge a bit, to contrast with the face that was smudge but I tried to keep its sharpness.
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:iconyagaminator:
yagaminator Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I see what you mean, lovely piece btw, and I'll try to keep that in my mind( That smudging is for removing blemishes on the skin and so on )! Thanks
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:iconnarutokunobessed:
narutokunobessed Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013  Student General Artist
Your welcome, and thanks.


In a way, you don't really need to smudge, since your building values anyway.
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:iconegypturnash:
egypturnash Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Ffff. I don't HAVE a smudge tool in Illustrator, and one would be pretty useless for the sharp-edged work I largely do.

Do some stuff in 2-4 values, no smudging, no gradients, no blurring, no airbrush, no nonsense, just flat hard-edged colors. Think about it and make some mistakes.
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:iconyagaminator:
yagaminator Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Really? But you see I have one hell of a lively fantasy and imagination... I really think it would be hard, for me, to interpret it as digital artwork without the use of an airbrush and colour smoothing( Dragons, fires waters, glows and stuff like that )... I took my time and went through some of your own deviations and I must say; You clearly live up to your title as a professional digital artist and I do admire your work, really. I will try my best and definitely try your way of using 2-4 values, flat-hard brushes and so on. I may post the result, but it just seems so hard for me...
You see I lack the "ability" to anticipate the final outcome of my artwork and it is soooo frustrating. So experimenting takes about 2/3 of my time while drawing something that would be easy for others to draw...

THANKS FOR YOUR COMMENT THOUGH! <3
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:iconegypturnash:
egypturnash Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
You lack the ability to know where you're going NOW. If you do stuff that forces you to think further out, then you will DEVELOP this ability.

And honestly half the time I barely know where I'm going when I start a piece. Composition and lighting evolve to best highlight the central point of the image.
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:iconyagaminator:
yagaminator Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hmmm I understand what you mean, I'll try my best and practice! Thanks ^^
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:iconrovanna:
Rovanna Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013   Digital Artist
You could try my method and see if it works for you. :U (It's a good idea to try lots of different ways and experiment)

Try setting your brush to Opacity Control = Pen Pressure. Then you can paint darker or lighter depending on how hard you press and pick "inbetween colours" off the picture itself like =AlanTheRobot said. Then you shouldn't need to use the smudge tool at all, I don't. A little roughness is nice. Too smooth can look like plastic to me.
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:iconyagaminator:
yagaminator Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Lol looks like it will look quite good this time.... With your trick!!! Thank you so much, I am planning on drawing a man holding a sword in a fight stance, with the camera looking down on him.

Thank you, I will put it up as soon as possible! ^^
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:iconrovanna:
Rovanna Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013   Digital Artist
I'd love to see it when it's done! :la:
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:iconyagaminator:
yagaminator Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I sure will post it! ^^
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:iconalantherobot:
AlanTheRobot Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013
Okay... this might sound a bit harsh...

But DO NOT use the smudge tool EVER. I don't even know why it exists. Its useless. I can tell someone if someone used the smudge tool from a mile away. The harsh truth is it looks awful. But it's a common mistake with beginners. Even I tried it when I started out.

You do blending by color picking. You lay down for example black, than white next to it. You take the white, lower the opacity to 30-50% and draw just a bit over the black. You pick the new gray color by holding the alt key and clicking on the gray, and now you paint with that gray a bit and repeat the process hundreds of times. I suggest a dabbing motion instead of strokes to blend though. Makes the painting look nice and rough instead of smudge tool smooth. You don't want it too look perfectly smooth. This is another common mistake. The need for perfect smoothness. Go through DA and look at some good paintings. Zoom in, are they perfectly smooth? No, but they look nice.

There's plenty of tutorials on how to do this both on DA and on Youtube. I'd like to know what videos you have been watching that use the smudge tool but all the ones I've seen from professionals never touch it. It might appear like they're using it since you can get really fast at the color picking method, but it's not the smudge tool.
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:iconyagaminator:
yagaminator Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Your comment is worth gold <3, although I have a question, Idrawgirls on youtube( He is a artist ) uses a "palette" where he dabs a colour on a side panel, just like a real palette, and blends them into whatever color he wants to. Is that a plugin or is there a palatte in Photoshop? And how long does this process take, to be able to draw with only colour, opacity variations and so on?
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:iconalantherobot:
AlanTheRobot Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013
I'm glad you took it well. Some people get angry when I tell them the truth.

I've only seen a few of his videos and have only seen him use photoshop, but if he's doing what you're talking about, he's probably using painter. Give me a link and I can tell you for sure. I'm not a fan of painter, too complex, slow, and unpredictable for me. I do wish photoshop had some it's features like the palettes though. I haven't heard of any plugin for that (although there are several plugins for a triangular color wheel, and CS6 finally included a color wheel - ctrl+shift+alt+right click).

There's a few ways to deal with the problem. You can use the swatches panel but I don't like it (no blending allowed). You can open a new document and float it above your painting and use that. Or my preferred method, you can just have a layer that you use to mix colors. I usually set up my pallet beforehand and then I shrink it and drag it around. Or sometimes I make a new window for my painting (Window > Arrange > New Window for...) and float it above my painting with it zoomed in on the pallet. That way I can sometimes zoom out and use that window for other stuff like just seeing the painting.

Are you asking how long a painting takes? Or how long it takes to learn to paint this way?

Either way it really depends on the person. I paint much faster these days than I used to. Works used to take me 75/100+ hours because I was trying to be a perfectionist. Now they can range anywhere from 5 for speed paints to 20-30 for more detailed/complex pieces. Always less than 50. But I've seen people create great pieces in 2-3 hours, and others who have no idea how long they take because they work for 5 minutes at a time.

Its taken me quite a few years to paint how I paint. I started digital before I had this deviantart. But I didn't practice everyday, more like maybe once a month. Its more of a hobby for me although this last year I've started to take it more seriously. If you're really interested, and want to make art your future (job) you have to practice everyday. I really suggest you join conceptart.org. It looks like you can take critique well, and I've just joined and it's awesome over there. Lots of feedback and resources.

Oh and you should know that most artists still do a rough lineart before going into paintings, especially with people. With environments you'll see them just dive in. Don't be afraid to make a rough guide though.

And also I have a YouTube too. There aren't any art videos up yet, but I'm going to be uploading some soon on different digital painting tricks and techniques. My username is the same as here.
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:iconageen:
Ageen Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Well, you'll be using it as log as you have an access, because it's easy.
My advice is, for some time, quit photoshop- draw with a pencil on paper or, if you'd like it digitally- MS Paint. This way you won't have the smudge tool option.
At the same time, look up colour theory tutorials. They seem complicated, so search for those that don't throw too much information in your face at once.
I think it should take you anywhere form a few days to a few weeks to get over this "addiction" of yours. I had some other bad habits, also photoshop-tools related- this helped me a lot.

Some tutorials to begin with, so you don't have to search much:
[link] This one has some theory, but has helped me a lot and ifluenced my own art greatly. I like to go back to it every now and then
[link] Very recent one, which you might have seen already. It shows a lot of info in an easy simplified way.
[link] This one has plenty of parts, but gives the theory gradually, not all at once. Sit down and read it if you have some free time to devote to art, because it takes a while to read and analyze it all.

I tried to pick tutorials that show different approach and information, I hope you find them helpful. Don't hestitate to make some searching on our own.
Good luck and have fun :la:
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:iconyagaminator:
yagaminator Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
But how do they get so smooth and nice edges?!?! AAhhhhh Im going crazy :( I really want to learn to just use color values and opacity variation >_<
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:iconpuppy-dangerous:
puppy-dangerous Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Professional Artisan Crafter
Uh....

how can people rely on the smudge tool, period? I've never seen someone use a smudge tool where I HAVE NOT said 'Oh, smudge tool. How cute'.
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:iconyagaminator:
yagaminator Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
What do you mean? Many videos on youtube depict the use of smudge tool... Its only that I cant seem to differ the situations where it is necessary to use it and when its not. :/
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:iconpuppy-dangerous:
puppy-dangerous Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Professional Artisan Crafter
I mean...99% of the time it looks like somebody used it. Which I associate with not being able to use brushes and mix colors properly.

It's like ms paint art. You can tell what it is. And it's...just amateurish.

Just because people on youtube like it doesn't mean it's a grate technique.
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:iconyagaminator:
yagaminator Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
WHat technique do yuo use? You seem to know alot about this, I would appreciate if you could tell me some more! ^^
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:iconpuppy-dangerous:
puppy-dangerous Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013  Professional Artisan Crafter
Personally, I color with an airbrush tool at really, really low opacity. Sometimes less than 5% over a sold base color :)

Using low opacity and multiple strokes makes it look less mechanical. You get the sort of effect that you are probably looking for with the smudge tool but it's smoother and you have much more control.

For example this one is done with a light base color, that lightest part is what I originally used. Then I used a few different colors to do the darker parts, in this case variations on the original color and from background and surrounding colors- an example being that some of the shadows aren't a darker shade of the base color but instead the dark opposite to the glowing sphere. The black is the highest opacity I used and that was maybe 15%

That one also has texture added with a spatter and hard round brush.

This one doesn't have quite as much mess over the coloring, but was done pretty much the same way. It's a solid base color that is colored over with variations. In this case a little more variation on the base instead of reflection of the background colors.
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:iconsarosna:
Sarosna Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
If you like it then I don't see why you should stop using it just because people say you should. But if you want to learn away from it, then try lowering opacity and blending like Self-Epidemic said.

I moved on to cel shading myself since it's more my style. I don't like traditional painting or watercolors. I don't have the patience for it. But if digital painting is what you want to do then practice on blending. You can find a lot of tutorials by entering keywors "digital painting tutorial".
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:iconheavenhairsixes:
HeavenhairSixes Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
If you think using the smudge tool is causing you problems then just try not using it.

I have making been digital art for a while and I don't even know what a smudge tool is - so it is clearly possible to do without...
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:iconweremole:
weremole Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
I'm not exactly sure what you mean. If you don't want to use it then don't. Myself I never really find any uses for it. Like you said the result is kind of hard to predict even if you know what you're doing so drawing/painting the effect deliberately is a lot more effective than trying to smudge it into existence.
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:iconself-epidemic:
Self-Epidemic Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Because its painting, you wouldn't do it with paint, you don't do it digitally. Drop the opacity and blend using the eyedropper and the brush tool.
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:iconflakface:
flakface Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is a good idea. I have tried to stop using the smudge tool too, I do find though sometimes it helps for getting certain effects to look right. :)

But I agree. OP should try to use mixing values as much as possible, just as with real paint.
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:iconself-epidemic:
Self-Epidemic Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
I wouldn't go near it, ever. I don't like using the extra tools down the left, because it looks far too digital, burn, dodge, smudge, they all LOOK too digital. I would rather just paint in the highlights. Choosing the right colours is the best thing for me anyway, or I'll never learn :P
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