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January 5, 2013


Replies: 20

Digital painting from the basics

Maestro-Eduardo Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Hi there! Would you be so kind as to give me some solid advice?

Current situation: my digital painting skills are pathetic.
What I'd like to achieve (short term - first months): gain the fundamental skills of a 2D visual artist.
What I'd like to achieve (long term - the following years): if the short term plan ends up being a success (showing that there could be some potential), I might decide to continue along the path of digital painting/ concept art (landscapes, environment design, creatures, etc.)

My role model is Feng Zhu; and yes, my skills are not even remotely close to this guy.

You see, my current relationship with digital painting (Photoshop, Painter and the like) is a bit scatterbrained - color theory this, anatomy that, composition there ... and no real foundation/integration of these core skills, just chaos!

What I'd like you to do is to recommend me some basic, tedious exercises to help me develop the fundamentals (exercises like "do a hundred iterations of these" - I won't mind, as patience is the key).

A link to a website/group covering these basics would also come in handy (yes indeed, I'd like to get that knowledge in an organized manner).

Another thing: to grasp the basics from another angle, I'm considering attending a traditional art course (some local school, real time), starting in about two months from now on. Is this a good idea?

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Devious Comments

achipps Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I think you need to start with a small canvas so you are not working with a lot of pixels. That will limit your art to the basic ideas, and some details. The whole idea with learning is you learn a little from each idea you try. You learn what you can do, and what needs work. You find out how much you know about how things look, so you can work on proportions, perspectives, and lighting.

If you look at fantasy, sci-fi or just creative art, a lot of the materials used to create creatures and things are made from things in real life. So you might need to study a lot of things and draw them exactly like you see them. That takes practice, and with that practice you get to learn things enough to be able to create them. You can look at a cup, and an octopus and draw tenticals on the cup. Things like that would be good practice.

When you practice check the time you started and try to get in one hour of practice, and see how much you can draw.
Try to think of an idea, or look at something in your room you can draw, then draw it the second time starting with a sketch of how you want to change it, and bring it to life. When you sketch things first it should make things easier than times when you don't. This is just part of the list of things that makes drawing easier, and helps you improve because you draw more in the same amount of time.
Drawing on a small canvas is easier to create anything. Sketching out ideas helps get more of your ideas in your art. It is like a planing stage, so you don't draw things before you notice it sucks.

To get good you might need to draw 10,000 images, so it could help to draw ideas in small blocks like comic strips. You should notice more freedom and skills building up. To get really good you need to do your best to be better than someone by competing. Only you need to know about it. Just find someone you think is great or draws the way you want your art to look like in a year and do you best to creating better art. This is not just drawing skills but better ideas too.

Along the way you have to set goals. List of things you need to work on and how much you will get done first.

Art is mostly visual once you have the skill to draw what you see accurately, because if you can see all your mistakes, then you can't fix them. When you create things, they will be lacking the details you never noticed before. The more you know about everything that effects everything in an environment, the more your art will come to life.

When you look at everything you need to create to imitate life that is just the start of the rabbit hole. It's is time to see how deep that rabbit hole goes, when you want to create concept art.
Maestro-Eduardo Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2013  Student Digital Artist
A very analytical, yet integrationalistic point of view there. Thanks for the tips!

There is actually something about practice and pushing the timeframe of ones drawings, as you suggest - once a man masters a certain skill, the skill moves from the conscious executive functions into the unconscious ones, giving the man finesse and a feel of skilled flow, while having a free capacity in the conscious mind (an extra capacity that can be used for being aware of some other aspects of the creative process - thus increasing the quality of the produced art).

The very computerish per-step approach (miniature > basic shaping > lineart > details > shading > reflections ... or so) is also a great strategy, i suppose (as long as the medium permits it) - because making a mistake means correcting just the erroneous step.
Competing with someone else without letting the person know of the competition? Elegant, stress free!

Looks like its almost time to go thinking about some of the goal ...
Vineris Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Draw from life. Start with basic, white geometric shapes with a single light source and work your way up to more complex things. Many of these shapes can be made from paper. If you can't accurately draw what's in front of you, which is a fairly easy and basic skill almost any child can learn, you will progress no further.

After that pick up a variety of how-to-draw books from your local library or from the Internet. They all contain similar exercises and information, and if you find that several of the books say a similar thing, that thing is likely to be true. The ones that people find most useful will be mentioned again and again on various sites and forums and you will be easily able to discover what they are. In fact it is a good idea to read other people's forum threads because you discover answers to questions that you never even knew that you had to ask. The art books I like will not be of much use to a beginner, since they deal with specific media and techniques, but you will probably eventually find "Color and Light" and "Imaginative Realism" useful. I hear that "The Natural Way to Draw" is also good.

Even if you pick up good books, you will still have to constantly exercise your critical thinking skills, because art is a kind of exploration and an explorer who must be led everywhere is of no use to anyone.
Artistic-Serenity Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013  Student Digital Artist
My suggestion would be to keep to the basics at first, draw from life. Find some life drawing groups to work on anatomy, google and go to the local library and find art books and study the masters! Study up on perspective, color theory, lighting, composition, and history! You'll only frustrate yourself if you jump right into digital art without a good grasp on the basics. Believe me I tried.

Once your ready for the digital stuff, its just a matter of applying those basics that you already know. Its just a transference of knowledge. Unfortunately I don't actually have any links, its just a matter of utilizing the tutorials we have here and doings searches in google and finding tutorials that suit your style. Best of luck!
gisela1910 Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013
I am a newbie myself the problem is some people forgot that they were newbies themselves and perhaps has asked the same questions as you because they are now able to digital paint they cannot be bothered to deal with newbies, my advice search on DA there are tons of digital art tutorials I have lots i've downloaded and from youtube as well there are some very good videos that you can actually download and follow your own time.

I am still practicing i've never draw anything nor I am an artist i did art class but that was eons ago. One thing i would say learn how to sketch before you take up digital art, work in proportions at the moment I am learning how to sketch eyes, nose and mouth all separate bit by bit until you are able to do them then you can sketch a whole face.


Above is my practice of sketching it takes a very long time but you will achieve what you want with patient. Do not trace anything just sketch on blank white canvas stick to it you'll get there if I can do a sketch like that you will will to.

I hope this helps :)
ladystrider Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013
If you want to improve you're going to have to do things yourself you can't expect everyone to link you to ever possible resource when there's thousands out there. Stop whining about them not giving you the advice you want and search for tutorials if you want them. I mean there's a whole section on here full of tutorials and reference images which you can easily find.
Maestro-Eduardo Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013  Student Digital Artist
There is no need to attribute those unpleasant traits ("lazy", "whining", etc.) to a person you are not familiar of. My arguments are rational.

As already stated before, it would be a fool's errand to let every beginner out there walk the very same, ineffective path of unclear, directionless struggle.

To be constructive about your post, you can start by sharing those few tutorials, nitpicked from the wast seas of knowledge, that were helpful to you (and explaining why).
ladystrider Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013
That's the thing there's so many different things you have to learn and you take different aspects from each tutorial so you can't expect someone to just sum it up like that. Assuming I could even remember everything it'd take too long.

You could check these blogs out they have some of the better tutorials and references some things obviously don't apply but just flick through them. There can be some nsfw stuff on there just body references though.
If you're going to look at tuts on DA go resources & stock images > tutorials and then on the left panel click more... where it says newest, popular, etc and click popular all time

The last thing I'm going to say is is that you might have a particular style in mind that you want to draw in and you might already have habits when you draw but you should work from the ground up. You need to understand the rules to be able to break them is something someone said I believe. Start with stick figures, start building bodies with basic shapes, use references and practice until you're confident enough to do it without them (that applies to everything not just anatomy).
Maestro-Eduardo Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013  Student Digital Artist
A solid response there! Thank you!

I've noticed that these links you provided do seem heavy on figure drawing. The devil in my head is thinking that figures are not (and will not) be my focus, ever. On the flip side of the coin, going through them may prove helpful in some other areas as well (indeed, it is the talk about cutting corners - we've been through that already).

Let me add a few more links on quality sources, to let our fellow newbies get some value out of this as well:
CtrlPaint: [link]
FZDSchool: [link]
Also, The Pirate Bay has some neat resources available - one just needs to search for things like "color theory", "anatomy", etc., and materials appear. As for legality of that stuff, one may be stepping on a thin ice there.
ladystrider Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013
Ah sorry I didn't read your question very well obviously, I don't have any resources tailoring more to what you want sorry! But hopefully some stuff will be helpful, I've been through them both before and I'm pretty sure I've seen posts to do with composition and colour.
I actually tried downloading some art books from piratebay before but they were downloading ridiculously slow so I just gave up on them haha.
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