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  03 March 2006
Advanced and/or Veteran digital painters: These question are for you!

First of all I would like to just in general say hello to everyone

I'm new. Really babybutt new. I didn't even start thinking about doing 'artwork' until Oct 05. So, I've been mentally at this for 6 months. Technically at this for sometime less. So, brand spanking new.


But, I'm old. Well, mature. 32. I've got my kids and marriage and not any time at all to take classes all day long (oh how I wish!)

So, for someone like me - I have some questions that I really can't get answered by anyone else except people who have been doing this professionally for years (or just ya know, know about art)

So... what I do know:

I'm 3 months into a Drawing 101 class at my local Community College.
I read REAMS of tutorials on the net.
I stare at art a lot and inspect it.
I really dig getting crits and giving crits.
I've been doing Photoshop for 6+ years - but just basic stuff (websites, tags), never painting until now.

What I want to know:

  • Is it OK to draw/paint from photos? Either Stocks or ones I've taken myself?
  • Besides classes, which I can only take sparingly, how can I maximize my learning?
  • What does speed painting teach us? (This one I'd really like to know)
  • How can I learn about /painting/ digitally? Would a traditional course in oils/acrylics help really? I understand that of course it could help but if I wanted a truly solely digital painting studio, as it were, would spending the money/time help?
  • And I want to know if I have potential - but then, in reality, the more practice will make anyone better - and this is like working a muscle.
  • How much should I be drawing a day?
  • Is it ok to draw/paint different styles while you are learning still?
  • Basically, HOW do I learn (besides just DOING)

I have no guide/compass in this, and I would really love a little 'teaching' as it were, to put me on the right path. I'm a very linear person when learning and if I could get a little guidance and set myself some goals and a path, it would help tremendously.

Thank you in advance for even reading this - and anyone with the patience to respond, you're an angel.
 
  03 March 2006
I'm not hugely experienced, but I've got a lot of friends who are, and I've read a lot. So, take it with a pinch of salt.

Originally Posted by LabyrinthineMind:
  • Is it OK to draw/paint from photos? Either Stocks or ones I've taken myself?

Photo reference is essential, IMO. It may be a crutch early on, but if you're just painting from your head, you'll get crappy results. And in the real world, it's anything-goes.

Quote:
  • Besides classes, which I can only take sparingly, how can I maximize my learning?

Doing.
Quote:
  • What does speed painting teach us? (This one I'd really like to know)

How to block in shapes and refine a composition early on, as opposed to spending 3 days on it, only to realize it's shite.
Quote:
  • How can I learn about /painting/ digitally? Would a traditional course in oils/acrylics help really? I understand that of course it could help but if I wanted a truly solely digital painting studio, as it were, would spending the money/time help?

Learning the basics always helps. But practice makes perfect.
Quote:
  • And I want to know if I have potential - but then, in reality, the more practice will make anyone better - and this is like working a muscle.

Everyone has potential.
Quote:
  • How much should I be drawing a day?

As much as you can.
Quote:
  • Is it ok to draw/paint different styles while you are learning still?

Get the basics down, then learn how to distort them into styles.
Quote:
  • Basically, HOW do I learn (besides just DOING)

Failing.
__________________
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  03 March 2006
Thank you so much Bonedaddy
I have a followup question (don't most eager and annoying students?)

You said to learn the basics before warping them into a style --

Ok, here's a whopper:

What are the basics?

I don't even know!!


Ok ok, let me take a stab: perspective, proportion, value -- am I on the right track?
 
  03 March 2006
  • Is it OK to draw/paint from photos? Either Stocks or ones I've taken myself?
Yes. Doesn't mean the artwork will be good though.

  • Besides classes, which I can only take sparingly, how can I maximize my learning?
Practize. Actually, I think classes are not necessary unless you need material and equipment that is not available otherwise. Maybe, try sculpture.

  • What does speed painting teach us? (This one I'd really like to know)
Hm. Not sure. I suppose it forces you to do actual work rather than hover around your yet-to-materialize-artwork forever and ever.

  • How can I learn about /painting/ digitally? Would a traditional course in oils/acrylics help really? I understand that of course it could help but if I wanted a truly solely digital painting studio, as it were, would spending the money/time help?
Yes, it would help. But the problem is that it is a lot slower than digital artwork. You have to wait for paint to dry, and clean brushes, etc etc. What really counts, things such as colour, composition, flair, etc, is media independant.

  • And I want to know if I have potential - but then, in reality, the more practice will make anyone better - and this is like working a muscle.
With practice, intelligence and persistence anyone can become a half-decent artist.

  • How much should I be drawing a day?
Quality, not quantity. Draw intelligently.

  • Is it ok to draw/paint different styles while you are learning still?
Yes.

  • Basically, HOW do I learn (besides just DOING)
Analyze. Think about why things are the way they are. All that nonsense I learnt at college "put blue in your shadow", "never use black", and other such banalities can be inferred, bent, and discarded once you figured out why things appear they way they do.

Uh...did that make any sense?


:oI
 
  03 March 2006
Do you use what you learn or do you only think you use it?
Analyse/study the art, don't just look at it.

Is it OK to draw/paint from photos? Either Stocks or ones I've taken myself?

Do you mean as in copying the reference directly? I've seen people do that in the AAFA on human models, I've seen other poeple do that whit nature and animals/insects aswell so I would guess it's ok

Besides classes, which I can only take sparingly, how can I maximize my learning?
Good tutorials, books, learning DVDs (or other animated files) studying your masters, experimenting and by joining the Daily Sketch Group and/or the activities Artistic Anatomy and Figurative art forum. Also make a tutorial (you don't have to show it to anyone), this way you will analyse what exactly you are doing and you will easier spot where you are wrong.

What does speed painting teach us? (This one I'd really like to know)
I'd guess it's maily to speed up, not sure that though

And I want to know if I have potential - but then, in reality, the more practice will make anyone better - and this is like working a muscle.
I'd say you have, you just need a more practice. Compare your work whit one of your masters, what is the biggest difference?

How much should I be drawing a day?

How much are you willing to draw? How much of the day do you do innessesary things (like watching "Beatuiful", "Big Brother" ect.)? How much of that can you "live whitout"? Remember to take breaks though. It's better to take many short breaks rather than a very long and painfull one.

Is it ok to draw/paint different styles while you are learning still?
I don't see why it shouldn't be O.o


I'm not really that much of an advanced digital painter, but I hope I could help anyway ^^
__________________

Last edited by LadyMedusa : 03 March 2006 at 06:46 PM. Reason: added text
 
  03 March 2006
Originally Posted by LabyrinthineMind: What are the basics?

Ok ok, let me take a stab: perspective, proportion, value -- am I on the right track?



Yeah. I'd emphasize anatomy, because that is what gets warped the most by people working in a style. Again, I don't do this for a living, or even much as a hobby, but I've had a lllllooottttt of friends who went through this, and ended up talking with them, and their teachers, and this is what I generally picked up from them.
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  03 March 2006
Ok this is great! Thank you everyone so much for taking the time to answer

Still a couple of follow ups:

Bonedaddy: I haven't even tried a person yet, for precisely that reason. That is where I see most people mess up.

LadyMedusa, as far as doing my own tutorial goes - I wouldn't even be able to tell what I am doing wrong, that is how little I know. Seriously, save for learning about measuring for proportion and value studies, I've done very little 'official art learning'. I've mostly just winged it for the past 4-5 months... though admittedly the drawing class has helped tremendously.

I just want to make sure that practicing from stock photos and/or home photos is OK and that I won't be learning any 'wrong' techniques.... since I really don't have a teacher, it's extremely hard to self-teach the 'right' things lol - make any sense?



I guess, basically, practice practice practice - and show my work here (?) so I can get crits (which are desperately needed!) to help me along?

And I really like the Daily Sketch Group idea - I might not be able to do it everyday, but I ought to make time...

.. and the only real stopper to me doing art anytime I want is playing Oblivion when my kids aren't home


Ok - so - would anyone like to see the latest attempt I have digitally painted and give me your honest and brutal opinion of what I need to work on?

It's on my CG portfolio - Plum Swamp.

If anyone looks and crits, I'm expansively appreciative.
 
  04 April 2006
I'm not a veteran by any means, but I think the best way to aproach art is not to think, but to feel. The minute you stop and say "does that look right?" you are no longer feeling and the creative juices have come to a screeching halt. Sure, a lot of thinking goes into the planning stage, such as what your picture is about or emotions you're trying to convey or what lighting or textures you might like to use, but once you've got a plan, go nuts and don't stop moving your brush/pencil/stylus until it's done.

Once again, feel, don't think.
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  04 April 2006
Originally Posted by BenJohnson: I'm not a veteran by any means, but I think the best way to aproach art is not to think, but to feel. The minute you stop and say "does that look right?" you are no longer feeling and the creative juices have come to a screeching halt. Sure, a lot of thinking goes into the planning stage, such as what your picture is about or emotions you're trying to convey or what lighting or textures you might like to use, but once you've got a plan, go nuts and don't stop moving your brush/pencil/stylus until it's done.

Once again, feel, don't think.


I absolutely disagree with that. Sorry.

The worst thing you can do is to not think while painting. It's extremely important to constantly assess what you're doing, what you're going to do, and what you've already done at every step. If you stop thinking and analyzing, you'll end up doing a bunch of mindless stuff that does nothing to really improve your knowledge and skill. The foundation art theories might seem basic, but they run very deep. You have to think about every single bushstroke because you're depicting complex interactions of light quality, surface, color changes, value changes, texture changes--not to mention making it aesthetically pleasing or effective. Painting without thinking is called "spinning your wheels and not getting anywhere." The best thing I ever did for myself as an artist is to actually STOP AND THINK at every step of the way.


Originally Posted by LabyrinthineMind:
  • Is it OK to draw/paint from photos? Either Stocks or ones I've taken myself?
  • Besides classes, which I can only take sparingly, how can I maximize my learning?
  • What does speed painting teach us? (This one I'd really like to know)
  • How can I learn about /painting/ digitally? Would a traditional course in oils/acrylics help really? I understand that of course it could help but if I wanted a truly solely digital painting studio, as it were, would spending the money/time help?
  • And I want to know if I have potential - but then, in reality, the more practice will make anyone better - and this is like working a muscle.
  • How much should I be drawing a day?
  • Is it ok to draw/paint different styles while you are learning still?
  • Basically, HOW do I learn (besides just DOING)



- If you're just practicing, then you can use any source--provided you don't show it in any manner that'll get you sued for copyright reasons. But if you're doing a "serious" piece of work, it should be your own reference.

- Maximize your learning by reading good books on the subject of painting and theory, then apply them to your own work. Also constantly observe and analyze the works of artists you admire. If they have published books/DVD's, get them. If they hold workshops, attend if you could. Most of all, you have to set goals for yourself--both short-term and long-term ones. For example:

short-term goal: I want to be able to incorporate the concept of contrasting cool and warm colors into my next painting. I also want to complete a couple of master copies of Sargent and Velazguez by the end of this year.

long-term goal: I want to get really good at plein-air painting. I also want to get gallery representation for my work within three years.

- Speedpainting is usually misunderstood by most. All it is, is to get the artist to consolidate the core ideas of an image into only the essential elements, and then execute those essential elements in the most time efficient manner. No noodling, no painstaking rendering--just what's important to the image. It's a great way to train your mind to think efficiently and analyze what's important and what's not important in an image. It is not, as some would mistakenly believe, some kind of pissing contest to see who could paint the most finished work in the shortest time. If you are into writing, a good analogy would be that speedpaints are like synopses or summaries of a finished painting, or if you execute the piece right, it could be in itself a finished piece with brevity as the essentially element (think Sargent or Sorolla's oil sketches).

- No, you don't need traditional painting experience to paint well digitally. There are plenty of amazing digital painters out there who learned digitally and never really painted traditionally. The only important thing in common between the two is the foundation art theories like composition, color theory, anatomy, values, edges..etc. However, traditional painting is so much fun and quite fulfilling--in ways that digital could never touch, so I would recommend doing a bit of it simply as a life-enriching experience.

- It doesn't matter if you think you have talent or not. The only thing anyone should ever care about is DO YOU LOVE DOING IT? Someone might be a terrible singer, but that doesn't mean he can't enjoy belting out tunes while in the shower or driving down the street (but it would be unrealistic to expect to be able to sing on stage one day). If you enjoy it, then nothing should stop you (aside from not having time/money for it, or being physically disabled). If you have ambitions or expectations, the only way to find out is to just keep doing it. You'll know after a few years if you have the aptitude for doing it professionally. Otherwise, doing it as a hobby can be just as satisfying and rewarding.

- Drawing a lot mindlessly is not nearly as effective as drawing less but thinking more. Analyzing and obervations is the single most important thing you can do as an artist. The rest is just eye-hand coordination and conditioning your body to become fluid and efficient at making the strokes--and that does take practice. How much you do it depends on how important it is to you. If art is your life, then you drill yourself like a drill sargent in a bootcamp. But if you're a hobbyist, then do as much as it's still enjoyable to you.

- Different styles is a good thing. Expose yourself to as many as you can, and take whatever you can from each and add them to your own creative vocabulary. They all follow the same foundations of art, so it's not like they'll hinder your growth or anything.
But if you have a passion for a specific style, then do concentrate more on that style--as you need to practice to get good at it.

- already answered that question.

And make sure you make good use the sticky threads in the Art Techniques & Theories forum. They are like years and years of free art school with amazing teachers.
 
  04 April 2006
Talking

LabyrinthineMind,

A similar question was asked on the "Tips for a Beginner" thread here on the Art Techniques and Theories Forum, and this is the advice I had for them:

http://forums.cgsociety.org/showpos...117&postcount=7

Hope this helps.

Cheers,

~Rebeccak
__________________

Korpus School of Art + Gallery
Website:
www.korpus-la.com
Facebook Page | Blog
korpus.info@gmail.com
Downtown Los Angeles






 
  04 April 2006
If you can get your hands on some good free 3D software, or a demo of something :-), grab a few renders in grayscale and you can use those for reference. I don't paint much, if ever, but you will see alot of professional painters doing that. Also it's gotta give you an idea on what good perspective really is, 3D software doesn't F*** that up.

-JIII
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I'm here, and then I'm not.
 
  04 April 2006
Basics..master the basics. Study design and color theory. Learn how design/composition works in a still image. Understand how colors work with each other as well as how they affect the design and composition. Alot of good information can be found on the net about color theory as well as the basics of design.
Try to draw as much as you can, get a sketch book, and label the first page with the date and what your goals are. Once you have filled this sketch book front and back with sketches and studies, do the same process again, but with a new sketch book. It's important that you are able to look back and learn from your mistakes, so keeping a "visual" diary of your progress is great for motivation as well as ideas.
Photoshop, painter etc, are just tools, don't look to these programs as answers or quick fixes. Treat them as if they were tools and you will be much better off.
There will be stumbling blocks with learning how to operate the software, but these are easily overcome if you have the artistic skill.
Don't be afraid to make mistakes, if you find you're spending more time erasing than creating then you're not really learning much because you're too focused on making a perfect image. If you're learning, then you will want to stay in a "flow" of creativity and learning. I've seen so many starting artists spend too much time trying to create a perfect image and making the same mistakes over and over. This will form bad habits that will carry over, so make your mistakes, make those ugly images and learn from them. You can always revisit them later.
If you can, study art history, learn about the "masters." This will help you a great deal when you begin to create more advanced images. If you want to recreate an image, look to the masters.

There are no shortcuts or secrets...it takes time, alot of time...don't be intimidated by other artist's work. Learn from them and try to deconstruct the images they create.

As for digital art...
You're going to find that the more successful artists out there have traditional art backgrounds, meaning they carried over what they have learned from working with traditional media to the digital realm.
Don't expect great results right away, learning the basics may seem "basic" and boring but this is your foundation, and with out a full understanding of the basics, you're going to fall.
Can you take a primitive object such as a cube or sphere and render it with proper perspective and shading as you see it on a table? Try it in a sketch book with a pencil, then try it with ink.

Don't look for what's easy...it's common when beginning that we look for the easiest image to create. If you find that you're looking for a way to easily create something, that's a cue that you're not going to learn much, if anything. I’m not saying to ententially make things hard on yourself you still need to enjoy the “process” and learning. Just try your best to stay away from what is easy and challenge yourself.
finally....
Keep reminding yourself that you are learning and it's a long process. If you post images to be critiqued, don't post the image if you have no intensions of going back into the image and reworking it. Try to record your process as your work, keep them in your sketch book.
IF you want real critiques and advice, post your rough/underpainting/sketch and some information about what your goals are, doesn't have to be exact just to help us understand what you're after. Then post the image as you work on it. Ask for "Paint overs" if you want other artists to paint over your image and post it, this helps alot as it allows other artists to visually show you what they are thinking and what possibilities exist with your image.
Hope my ramblings are helpful to you.
Good luck.
 
  04 April 2006
My thoughts

I am pretty much self-taught, and came into illustration through the back door (when starting out) as I needed pictures to illustrate my technical writing, but here's my 2 cents:





# Is it OK to draw/paint from photos? Either Stocks or ones I've taken myself?



Artists have been using lens and cameras since art started looking realistic. Having a photo or projection has helped a lot of artists, even though many art schools and art historians do their best to ignore this fact. Photos aren't a crutch as much as a tool, and they won't transform a so-so artist into a fantastic talent. But a photo can be essential in getting things right and can make your work easier to boot.



# What does speed painting teach us? (This one I'd really like to know)



In today's world, the faster you can produce quality work, the more money you make. Since artists aren't paid too well at best, being able to work quickly has its pluses. Speed painting can help you, ummm , speed paint.



# How can I learn about /painting/ digitally? Would a traditional course in oils/acrylics help really? I understand that of course it could help but if I wanted a truly solely digital painting studio, as it were, would spending the money/time help?



This is somewhat of a toss up because the various brushes, techniques, and such don't translate perfectly from traditional to CG painting. My inclination would be to spend the time with the program I'm going to use and forsake the traditional painting lessons. You don't learn a lot about how to ride a bicycle by driving a car -- instead get onto the bike.



# How much should I be drawing a day?



As much time as you can. Like the bike riding, the more you do, the better you get.



# Is it ok to draw/paint different styles while you are learning still?



It's good to be flexible. Sometimes a client will want "something in the style of so-and-so" -- though often this leads to disaster for the artist since your own style tends to take over (politely ask if the client wants a paint-by-numbers effect ;O). But having a few different styles of your own might help you land more work. The downside is the proverbial warning: "Jack of all trades, master of none." It's better to have a few styles that you do well rather than a bunch you do so-so.





# Basically, HOW do I learn (besides just DOING)



Doing is prime. But studying what other artists have done and how they've done it can be an eye opener. Zoom in to the pixel level and see how the colors blend, note the color palette used, etc., etc. Sometimes one insight from another artist's picture can be the "aha" moment that inspires you for years to come. (I can still remember, when I was a kid visiting the Ringling Art Museum in Sarasota, FL, and walking up to a painting to see how an artist got such a slick metallic effect in oils -- and discovering he'd done it with regular paints with a dot of pure white cementing the illusion of a metal glint. From there on, I was hooked.)



Create all you can -- and take chances, too. CG has the advantage when taking chances. And if you make a mistake? That's why God made the undo button on art programs.



--Duncan Long

=====================

Cover artist for HarperCollins' Digital Artwork for the 21st Century.

See more of my work at: http://duncanlong.cgsociety.org/gallery/
 
  04 April 2006
With regards your first question, I'd say there's nothing wrong with working from photographs, but it's not as good as working from life and observation. If you work from photographs too much then all you're doing is copying. Observational drawing can give you a much better understanding of form and how to describe a three-dimensional object in two.

Speed painting is like sketching, I'd say. Vital to an understanding of representational artwork. It's all about observation, understanding the essential defining characteristics of a subject. Using the minimum possible to describe something. With a bit of work, you can draw a portrait in seconds and get it to bear a good resemblance. This is the kind of thing that speed paiting can do for you.

Speaking of portraiture, you should definitely give that a try. It is harder to draw the human figure and face because flaws are all that much more apparant, but that makes it a better exercise in itself. Of course, always do it from observation if you can. Life drawing classes would be a good thing to do.

As far as styles go, there's nothing wrong with experimentation. Try different methods of representing what you see in front of you, by all means. Every artist needs to add some of their own character to their work. If you just aim for perfect realism, are you doing much more than a camera?

Only paint digitally if there's a good reason for it. It's more constraining (hard to work from life) and all you get at the end of it is pixels. Yes, it's more flexible, but is that really a good thing? The skill set you get from painting in traditional media is very transferrable.

To summarise - draw from observation, not photographs, and never from your mind. You can do that later. Don't use your computer. Do it all by hand.
 
  04 April 2006
Wow! Such replies! And some of them completely opposite! Haha! I see there is some subjectivity at work here, and that's ok, I can work with that.

Thank you everyone for taking the time out of your day to respond and help someone like me out. As I am really very new in general, it really does help and make an impact on me. I appreciate it so much.

I sometimes find it daunting to begin a drawing or digital painting, because it seems overwhelming at times - and other days I dive in headfirst. I wish there was an explanation for that!

I just wanted to stop and thank everyone for their kind and sincere replies - since I popped this thread I found the beginner's area of this site and I will be sticking around there from now on !

Thanks again everyone
 
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