View Full Version : Thread of useful things

05 May 2005, 01:06 PM
I thought it was about time we started a thread where everyone who cared to could post useful tips and tricks and ideas. We're not just talking purely technical matters and this isn't just about any specific program: just little tutorials and whatevers that you've come across throughout your life as a digital artist. 2D, 3D, traditional... it doesn't matter. Just have at it. Make sure you explain extensively so it's easily understandable :)

05 May 2005, 01:09 PM
That's such a great idea Linda, good thinking! :applause:

05 May 2005, 01:10 PM
As quite a few people have asked me about brushes and the brush-settings in photoshop, I threw together a little tutorial for them.
(to be continued)

05 May 2005, 01:11 PM

And here's the brush as promised:
the test brush (

05 May 2005, 01:11 PM
That's such a great idea Linda, good thinking! :applause:

Thankee, sweetie :D

05 May 2005, 01:31 PM

one thing i've noticed in many human anatomy-related works is that people get the leg proportions distorted a lot. a general rule of thumb that i've learned is that the leg should be approximately twice the height of the torso (from the shoulder to the pelvis). the top and bottom halves of the leg are pretty much the same length.
i apologize for not having any diagrams to accompany this, since i'm at work right now. if anyone else is able, please feel free to illustrate my point and post it. :)

05 May 2005, 02:21 PM
Wowee! That's such a beautiful, in-depth tutorial. Thanks Linda :love:I wish I had some way of repaying you for it- anything you want from me, just ask! :D

05 May 2005, 02:23 PM
When creating characters for 3d, you'll be wanting to make themexactly like you drew them. When drawing them you should keep in mind that your eyes are always working with parallax. So you will need to clearly define dimensions in 2d space which should result in accuratetranslation back into 3d space. An easy way would be surely to take photo's with an extremely lengthy zoom lens. But when drawing use rulers/lines to compare a side and fron view and do it as technically accurate as possible.:thumbsup: You will find this pain in the ass wll save you extreme confusion when modelling, which is obviously more timecosnuming. CHeerio.


Nice idea Linda:deal:

05 May 2005, 02:37 PM
Often you'llfind fastly complex object which are so interesting that you'll want to reproduce the in 3d. A basic phong or blinn shader won't always help you here. But usually since thesse surfaces have on all there points one thing in common you can cheat the eye into thinking t sees the surface like it's used to see it. The common aspect is all the stuff happening has to point away from the surface normal, not directly, but it cannot point into the surface in most cases. With this in mind you can use the software you have to take into account the angle of incidence of thelight striking the surface to let the shader behave differently. I think most apps will allow blending of several tests of these in several ways.
Use this effect to cheat the complex light interactions on the observed surface.

Here's an axample of some fancy very expensive looking fabric. I was raised with onyl women in the home, but can't seem to stick a name on it, but it's nice to see anyway.
First is an example of a standard blinn shader, it has a nice well adapting shading, following the curves of the object. It looks soft and kind of like a rubber sheet, but not nearly complex enough. (

In this example I reused an older shadr I had experimented on. It has a gradient mapped to surface normals blended with a plain surface colour. I initially used high easily seen values but toned it down afterwards using the diffuse multiplier, basically does nothing else than say how intense the eventual result of calculation should be. That's all to it. (

05 May 2005, 03:17 PM
WOW! Thanks a lot for sharing that brush tutorial,Linda!!! :) *claps*

05 May 2005, 05:33 PM
My best universal tip would be to spend some money for an handy digital camera and always and I mean ALWAYS take it with you wherever you go, it's way more important than having the best video card or more hard disk storage or whatever else you spend money on

There are so many little details that should never be forgotten when looking around, you can notice something interesting and tell yourself "man I'm never going for forget this amazing detail" but you'll wake up the day after without it and it's something we can't let happen

Time is the best artist we can get inspiration from, it ruins textures like nobody else can (ok let's exclude Linda from that eheheh)

05 May 2005, 05:47 PM
Incredibly helpful Linda!
Do you have a fan club I could sign up for?

05 May 2005, 05:51 PM

...again and again and again...

...use the search functionality on the forum...


...Use the force, :)meaning have some blind faith in your intuition...

05 May 2005, 04:23 PM
this is too small to call it a tutorial.. so i guess this fits well here.

This threestep painting tip shows you how to approach somewhat a 3d looking hair using highlights. however i recommend to use a drawing tablet for it.

the rule is just to think light direction, and paint white stripes where the light would it directly on the hair surface.. great for wet curly hairs :)

05 May 2005, 06:03 PM
No pun intended eparts;).

I've found a lot of work giong from very plain lights, big misstake. Light can as a rule not be white, simply there exists no whiet light. So a well done image has lot's of colour in it, well done being not overexposed or underexposed. OF-course the exception makes the rule, so by all means go greyscale or whatever. Just saying, coloured lighting is a gem.:wise:

Some examples:the plain variant, with and without a shader(shader should be desigfned with colours in light in mind, there use is to behave ina certain way towards/with light ;))

here's an example of adding coloured lights and a gradient mapped to a skydome/light. Allready becoming a bit more atmospheric:

Another light trick, bit off-topic but nice I think. Requires more skill than I have with lighting but I htink it's coming across;).
boring version, very plain, but more interesting because you get a hint at what's there. shader is behaving rather dull but it's interesting nonetheless. Trick I find is to rather suggest than to show it all right away. Maybe that's how they found less is more. Just being an ignorant jackass on my part.

but I made it to react to light in a way. SO here's the thing with better coloured lights. Makes a big difference imho. More colour, less light, don't shwo it all straight away. =0

05 May 2005, 07:07 PM
. I was raised with onyl women in the home, but can't seem to stick a name on it, but it's nice to see anyway.


now u see why i never understand u one bit?


05 May 2005, 07:20 PM
It's satin...I have satin nightwear :) .

Jan-Mark, nice tutorial, but maybe you could explain a little further as to the shadings you used, rather than just general pointers- that's the point of this thread after all :)

05 May 2005, 07:31 PM like... turn me into some social derelict would you Squibbit!:scream: lol, I gotta learn to make my own smileys, maybe that'll help.

Ah yes forgot Theresa. I'll get on it, but that takes more time, but for the meanwhile, another tip, use all the special effects you have in your shaders, but don't overdo it.(:rolleyes:, and I did overdo it I think, ahem): ( (
I'm not really sure whether it's satin, it could be some exotic fabric fromthe east or something, lot's of different silks, :surprised, uhm...needless to say it's rare...

05 May 2005, 08:06 PM
The question of rendering size for printing always comes up. I posted this in the
Lightwave forum before seeing this thread, so sorry about the double-post.

Example: Printer tells you he wants a file 17x11 inches at 300 dpi. Open a new file in Photoshop with the printer's settings.
No need to save this file. You're only using it to get your render size.

Go to Image>Image Size. Look at the Pixel Dimensions. Render your file at this size.

After rendering your file, open it in Photoshop. Go to Image>Image Size.
The Pixel Dimensions are correct but the Document Size doesn't show what the printer wants yet. TURN OFF "RESAMPLE IMAGE".
I'll repeat this because it is the most important thing in all of this: TURN OFF "RESAMPLE IMAGE"!

Now change the Resolution in Document Size to 300 pixels per inch. The size
automatically updates to 17x11 while the pixel demensions remain unchanged.

Click OK. Save your file. Send it to the printer.

05 May 2005, 08:11 PM
Not at all, jmBoekestein..

notice her surroundings.. plain white ;)
but ofcourse.. you are right that one has to study the lightsource .. which isnt often white (because it doesnt exist..)

your renders here are quite interresting. look like satin or silk.. reminds me of my master&servant entry, which has really bothered me with the lighting!

05 May 2005, 10:05 PM
Wonderful thread idea Linda, very helpful. And for your brush tutorial, quite a coincidence. I was fiddling with some brush settings and creating some new brushes in Photoshop earlier today; it comes handy just at the right time. :)
Your tips are very useful Allenatl, good to know. Thank you for sharing it. ;)

Same goes for everyone else, i'll sure keep an eye on this thread and try to add some of my own tips later on.

05 May 2005, 12:01 AM
Very helpful thread idea, been very curious about da brush, so followed Furia's tutorial at sunday, with one modification: I took scanned papier texture, set 1 layer to overlay 100%, second - duplicated one, to a difference mode, and - yes - in da moment U got plain black, but experimenting with slicers in blending options for the "difference" set layer made interesting "moire", and I did it on the very early stage of the brush creation, leaving the both paper layers visible, and working under them on main layer made me able to see final effect. BTW if duplicating a work, (merged layers) inverting and saving as JPG one have ready to define Painter brush.

Topic by jmBoekestein reminded me a job I had ca. 2-3 years ago, with dark room having net courtains, (slightly moving in da wind). If I will find a CD that scene is archived, maybe I will compare some technology.

And small question to Furia again. After some years I have to get back to traditional media, exactly having to do oil/acrylic on canvas portrait for someone, and my question is:
If, and how would You modify Your "Thoughts on Skintones" tutorial to traditional media work? Got to finnish till saturday, already trying delicatly adding bright turquoise already gives goood effect :)

P.S. Mostly all of digital painters use to switch to computer from traditional media, right? With me is different, I really started developing my feeling to painting in pshop & pntr.

05 May 2005, 02:38 AM
Thanks, allenatl, for that printer tute. Been wondering about that darn "resample image". :thumbsup:
This will come in very useful.

05 May 2005, 08:02 PM
I'm sorry for calling You Enayla - Linda by mistake as Furia, (even not Furiae) and reason was I'v been simultaneously visiting Your site, hope You dont mind.

05 May 2005, 08:22 PM
Actually I felt the approach to creating the shader would be more beneficial, since you'd know what to do instead of what I did because of it. But seeing it will probably help in understanding. I hate reading boring text myself, pictures will do better for sure.

So, here's the basic shader roll-out. Some of you might not recognise some of the terms used here, the ones that do probably dno't need this explanation.
The Color slot which has the gradient is basically <diffuse color>, which in calculations gets multiplied with Kd, the <diffuse amount>. This is more efficient than just using a color slot for diffuse, you should try and use both, so that you can adjust eventual output levels in a more balanced way without going into other applications for it.
Kd or diffuse amount has a fall off map assigned to it to control the brightness of the surface at differnt angles, this i swhat I'm talking about basically, and color of-course. I'll explain more later after the over all.
Sheen maps. there are some assigned here, but I've switched them off for rendering. Basically this is what you see on edges of hairy objects, where the hairs reflect light more and differently than the objects surface, basically you culd fake this yourself using a combination of several maps, sourcing data along with the surface normal(direction).
Bump map was applied to slightly break up the surface, computer graphics simply are to consistent to be easy on the eye, break it up subtly without destroying leverage for effect and the effect itself of-course, :)
specualr level has a noise texture added to it to make it seem more broken up and irregular, for the same reason as with the bump map. (That'll teach you to pay attention, lol :p) (

Ok, so this basically is all needed for that cloth I made, except for the SSS effect, and ofcourse you need the rendering engine to go with it, GI and bounce ligth help an image so much further into a nice complexity.

On with the shader settings.:D

You'll notice I've blended the map to about 50-60% of the base colour which is red. I do this for the general balance in the shader itself, so that it seems to deviate from red and not be some collection of nifty colourschemes.

he only things I changed about the map is the colour gradient itself and the type of gradient to normal, I haven't assigned any mapping to the object itself, some renderers will ask or tell you about missing uv's in this case. I ignore it since it uses different data. It would only serve for texture baking. You'll notice the colours are very dark, but upon making the gradient put in some slight variations in those darkareas, it adds complexity and interest along the different angles. :) That's that then, onto the next map. (

So the noise is obviously to brake up the rendering, so I'll skip that. It just adds complexity to the surface.

The last bit, the diffusion amount, is controlled by a fall off map in this case. All the settings are there. You'll see it's low values, but that's because I wanted a dark cloth so I lessen the effect like this. If the hairs point at you you'll see more cloth which should have a different raction to light in general, so that's why I use this. That's all. I had wanted to do more shaders at once so it would be easy to understand but this is enough I hope. Maybe otherss will follow later. (

05 May 2005, 04:00 PM
i like it .... ..

05 May 2005, 08:28 PM
I've found that storing webpages as in saving them on your hd is really frustrating. I've found this aplication some time ago and I think it might come in handy sooner or later for most. You can print to a pdf file with it instead of to a printer :). It leaves a little watermark in my free version, but that's no big deal I think.
Enjoy. :thumbsup:

pdf factory (

topmost icon on the page...:deal:

05 May 2005, 08:46 PM
Great thread Linda! Thanks to everyone for the tutorials posted it's been and interesting read. Thanks linda for the brush tutorial really helpful :)

05 May 2005, 09:07 PM
Making quick rain, most of you probably know this already.
Anyway just play around with the settings and see what you can come up with, it is also usefull for a quick reference of how the rain might look.
Someone might find it usefull.

05 May 2005, 09:09 PM
To be honest I haven't got a clue how this would look in photosop, :surprised, could you elaborate a bit, please. I understand the idea though, pretty nifty! :thumbsup:

05 May 2005, 09:13 PM
Opacity on Pressure means its gonna work only using a pen?

05 May 2005, 09:18 PM
Opacity on Pressure means its gonna work only using a pen?

Sorry forgot to mention that, but you dont have to use the opacity variance, just use the mouse at different brush opacity settings, the jitter will work with the mouse.

05 May 2005, 09:34 PM
To be honest I haven't got a clue how this would look in photosop, :surprised, could you elaborate a bit, please. I understand the idea though, pretty nifty!

Basically you use an ordinary large sized brush with medium hardness, a step size of about 25 and change the thickness of the brush way down low and rotate the brush in whatever direction you want the rain to go and vary the brush opacity as you paint from top left to bottom right or visa versa, or up and down even, I am not sure about how it can be done in photoshop but I do know that the settings are in photoshop but probably named slightly different.

05 May 2005, 10:32 PM
Ok cool I get it, I must be tired:rolleyes:. Thanks for the explanation.

05 May 2005, 01:46 PM
My hint is very simple. When you are done with a picture. Put it on your desktop for a day to just have a chance to look at it without working on it. I have fixed an image or two this way after some casual looking at it found something I could fix easily. Sometimes you get too close to your work and don't see what can be done wth it or the whole thing when you are concentrating on the minutae of it.

05 May 2005, 09:12 AM
My hint is very simple. When you are done with a picture. Put it on your desktop for a day to just have a chance to look at it without working on it. I have fixed an image or two this way after some casual looking at it found something I could fix easily. Sometimes you get too close to your work and don't see what can be done wth it or the whole thing when you are concentrating on the minutae of it.

In addition to this,not looking at your picture for about a week and then looking back at the picture makes you realise your mistakes,too.Even if there's an obvious mistake,you get familliar with it and consider it normal.Forgetting a pic makes it easier to objectively critisize your work ;)

Mysterious X
05 May 2005, 02:07 AM
one good advice I had from two different artists was:

if you got stuck with whatever your drawing try rotating the drawing..or make a thumbnail and see how it turns out..just observe it from different perspectives..or try drawing with your left hand..or with eyes'll come up with the weirdest and interesting things !

I'll get back to the thread later on

05 May 2005, 05:25 PM
Two things that help me while learning 3d, but definitely applies to pretty much anything:

1. If learning from a tutorial, keep practicing until you can do it without referencing the tutorial at all.
2. Don't limit yourself to tutorials or info based on your particular software. Some great approaches are found in other software tutorials and in many cases are easily applied to your specific software.

05 May 2005, 10:40 PM
I think if your animating you should always try and see movments in your mind's eye until you can feel them almost. Like imagine your shaking hands with someone... Try and capture this in your mind and play it back until you almost fool yourself that it is really happening. I know this sounds like a huge load of estoteric crap and it is because it is something that is over-looked with all of todays technology and latest releases of your favorite 3d proggy. Basically I could have said get back to the basics and I am now. Practice your sketching/drawing skills. Find an object that is interesting to you and draw it until you get it as best as its gonna get. Then move on to another object. What your trying to do is make the link between the right and left sides of your brain stronger. Drawing is Right hand thing...mostly anything imaginitive is. and drawing or doing 3d is a left - Anything technical or precision is...

Another note of fact which has been mentioned before in this thread and many others i'm sure. - When you turn something upside-down before drawing it - what is happening is this. Your tricking your mind into not recognizing it on a higher level and your bypassing your learned thru-life "filters" which alter percieved reality which is what happens when one on Cg-Talk goes into a "Boekestein-ish" mode... LOL! He'll never notice... or

Keep the mind swimming in positive thoughts also! And have a sense-of-humor! Everything I said is Fluffy but healthy for the nogon.

06 June 2005, 08:08 AM
This is more a basic drawing tip, but even the simplest things to do with drawing apply to digital art.

A while back, I was having trouble getting caught up in the details of a picture before I had fully worked out how I wanted the picture to look. One of my professors gave me the most useful advice I ever got: For each step in creating an image, never do more than is absolutely necessary for that step. For example, if you are arranging figures in an environment, lay down only the information you need: that means no facial features (not even guidelines for proportions), no fingers, no clothes, nothing. In the next step, do the exact same thing you may choose refining your shapes, for example, so do only that until all your shapes have been refined. Break everything into steps and be very strict about not jumping to another step before you have completely finished the step you're on. If you're like me, this will usually take care of the most difficult parts first, and so the last steps (i.e., refining the image, the fun stuff) are nothing but fun and come very easily.

This probably won't be useful to the pros, but there are beginners reading this site, and this was the best tip I could have got as a beginner.

06 June 2005, 09:53 AM
cool, heythatreallyhurts. i like ur idea(or you prof, whatever..). Other tutorials by Enayla or Bokensteim(am i spelled it right) or any other have been very useful. Thanks a lot!

06 June 2005, 03:02 PM
My best 3 tips when working with computers are:

1- Save often
2- Save often
3- Save often and do a Backup

07 July 2005, 08:00 AM
:rolleyes: I like to share something... but, I don't call it a tutorial >///<
To me, it's more like an brush application...
However, it is an efficient way to paint animal fur.
Like the example I used below, it only took me five minutes.
OH... foreget to mention... this is for painter.
but, I believe, it is not hard to create a similar brush in photoshop by using Linda's brush creating tutorial.

(oops, sorry for big picture)

08 August 2005, 12:29 PM
okay i made a real quic tutorial on how to make a textured brush fast, anyway sorry that i didn't explain the brush settings, i suggest you just play around~


08 August 2005, 07:02 PM
forgive my stupidity, but actually how can i set the brush pressure to opacity or size in Photoshop!?

thank you:D

08 August 2005, 07:34 PM
Brush tab -- Other (for opacity)
Brush tab -- Shape Dynamics (for size)

08 August 2005, 08:46 PM
Ohhh, thats it!? how fool i am:shrug:

08 August 2005, 11:32 AM
I converted my acrylics to digital colour, in this ( thread you can read all about it, and heres the swatched:

Pure color swatches (

(mixed from yellow to red to blue to yellow)

And heres the pure acrylics:

Acrylicswatches. (


08 August 2005, 01:30 PM
Thanks again :D

09 September 2005, 01:27 AM
here is my useful tip... strech and blink once in a while.. sometimes when you are painting or modeling too intensly I am so obssesed I forget to even close my eyes for a second and that gives me headaches.. standing up and talking a quick stroll is a good idea too. :)

09 September 2005, 09:16 AM
here is my useful tip... strech and blink once in a while.. sometimes when you are painting or modeling too intensly I am so obssesed I forget to even close my eyes for a second and that gives me headaches.. standing up and talking a quick stroll is a good idea too. :)

That's so true, we get our eyes tested in work once a year and the optician told us that when using computers we forget to blink for long periods of time and only after she told me this did I start noticing what she meant and then I realised that was why my eyes were so blood shot and tired looking.

10 October 2005, 10:37 AM
Most people probably already know this, but recalibrate your monitor! This is so important! A good friend of mine has one of those print-accounts at deviantart and once,she made a really nice piece of art. I was with her then, and it looked really good on her monitor. She submitted it and ordered a few prints for herself to see what they would look like. They were horrible! The skin of her character looked greenish, the vibrant red colors of her outfit were dull and the entire picture was WAY to bright! She decides to recalibrate her monitor using a manual she found on the internet, and now all her pictures are fine :)

Also, here's another tip for those of you with pets: If you go to the bathroom and find your cat sleeping on your brand new Intuos 3 tablet when you return, try to lure her away with some fish or maybe a piece of cheese. DON'T try to pick her up, because there's a good chance she will hold on to your tablet with her claws, and you will have to order a new overlay (not to mention having to get all those cat hairs out of the expresskeys). Leaving your spare felt pennibs unguarded is also not reccomended, because your cat might eat them. That's what mine did anyway... (even though the look on the face of our vet was priceless :applause: ).

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