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

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  04 April 2006
Quote: 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.

Sorry Duncan, but I'll have to say no it isn't so. Before the invention of photography, the painters were forced to do very realistic paintings exactly because photography didn't exist.
At that time painters were the equivalent of portraitphotographers today. Only rich people had access to having their portrait painted.

Photography made having your portrait made less expensive and thus more democratic. Many more people could now have their portrait made and their kids and grandkids would know what they looked like.

As photography now allowed completely lifelike images, the painters had to reinvent their role in society.

Very few years after the invention of photography the painters began to work differently - the first of the bunch to be very famous were the impressionists. Photography was first invented about 1826, but still very, very unknown to the large public. Therefore, everything made before or just around this year were made without photoreference and you know that many things were very realistic inspite of that.

Thanks to photography, we have had since then how many artmovements ? I think that if photography hadn't been invented, all painters would still have strived for more and more realism in their paintings.
  04 April 2006
All that said, I still want to say as many others here that everything you use is just a tool - whatever you use - if the result looks original, special, personal - it's alright. But if you just take a photo and copy it exactly .... it may be a good way to learn things, but it is not an original artwork and should not be presented as one. Copying a photo or and old master painting as exactly as possible - it should only be for learning - not for submitting as your own artwork.
  04 April 2006
Actually, I should have qualified what I meant about using photos...

I meant that if I wanted to do a picture of a Unicorn (the horse-type, not goat type) than would it be ok to look at pictures of horses and maybe choose one in the pose I like to paint a Unicorn from that?

Or if I wanted a craggy stone staircase in a part of a painting, would it be ok to use a stock photo to look at while I drew/painted something similar in a composition of my own...

That is what I basically wanted to know if that was OK and considered kosher.
  04 April 2006
Stock photos

Copyrights can tangle up an artist quickly. If you use stock photos as you propose, be sure they give you unrestricted rights -- then you can copy them as you please. On the other hand a picture by another artist of, say, a unicorn, should not be used at all since that image is copyrighted and even creating a picture that is similar in layout might be (and the courts have so ruled in some cases) an infringement of his copyright on that artwork.

It gets tricky... My advice would be to get a camera and take you own shots (a unicorn being a horse with a horn painted on :o) or get into 3D modeling enough so that you can create a model that can then be painted from. These aren't "quick" solutions, but they are safe and will give you artwork that is all your own, rather than a painterly copy of something someone else has done already. --Duncan Long
  04 April 2006
Hey LabyrinthineMind, I think your questions have all been answered pretty well, but I thought I'd share some of my experiences with you because I started out drawing the same way, just kind of figuring things out as I go.....

When I started my only goal was to draw every day no matter what for 30 days. Try that. Even if some days all you can get is 20 minutes, it matters. When I did that, I decided to go for another 30 days straight. And after 60 consecutive days, I vowed to draw fo 60 more, etc. After a few months of drawing every day, it becomes habit, and you don't even have to think about it really. As for what to draw, I found lots of artist studies helpful. Getting an idea of how other artists do things and solve problems. Also, taking life drawing classes are very helpful, and finding life drawing sessions going on in your area to go and draw, as well as meet other artists.

As for resources, books, DVDs etc., here's some I found helpful....

Loomis (figure drawing and general drawing books, very good), Bridgman (figure drawing, anatomy), Vilppu (figure drawing and anatomy DVDs, excellent) Gnomon DVDs ( some maybe a little advanced for someone starting out), Scott Robertsons Perspective DVD particularly, Drawing Lessons and Anantomy Lessons from the Great Masters by Robert Beverly Hale, Drawing on the Right Side of The Brain by Betty Edwards (very good beginng drawing book, teaches you how to "see" things as they are, not as how you think they are), as well as hanging out at forums like this and Over at, there's a section called "Sketchbooks" where Artists of all levels basically have online sketchbooks and people look at them and give you feedback or whatever. It's very helpful and motivating. But one thread in particular by a guy called MindCandyMan is really inspirational. He started it 2 years ago, as a total drawing novice, and has been updating the thread ever since. You can see his progress from day on until now and read about what he's been doing. It's amazing. Anyway, I'm done rambling for now. Good luck!
  04 April 2006
Thanks Fattkidd!

I haven't ever been to yet, I will have to give it a try

There are too many things to do during the day that tug at me. Oblivion. World of Warcraft. Any book I'm reading at present.

Not to mention my kids, husband, daily chores and housework, taxi driver for kids lessons... etc. adnauseum.

Somehow though, I will try and find that time every day.

I think electric shock if I don't do it would help, though =D
  04 April 2006
Really the best way to learn is to study, observe, and practice like crazy. Also, being very critical of yourself really helps too, it motivates you to get your artwork better. Trust me on this one, I've basically been teaching myself digital painting. Save from a few tutorials and several tips from the friendly people here at CGTalk, I've done most of it on my own.

Be sure to post your work some where, like the WIP/Critique forum here, becuase you will get a lot of help from people, and they might be able to point out a mistake or error your are consistantly making that you don't see for yourself.

And constantly observe everything around you. I watch people's faces and stuff to understand their skintones and anatomy, I study photographs or something outside to understand their textures, etc. Observation really helps out.

Hope this will help! Good luck!
  04 April 2006
It does Sylana, thanks! I have always been a people watcher, and a daydreamer, so observation comes naturally to me, so that is a plus. Since I have started down this path, I have noticed so many things about daily life and the world around me even crisper - and I do tend to stare at stuff and look at things differently now, even just buildings that might catch my fancy.
  12 December 2006
Warm-up practices

Hello hello,
This is justa quick break down of what I do to interact with the mediums instead of just trying to absorb it all. Cuz well, I can be as dumb as a brick if I just try and do everything that way.

This way combines learning speed, style and proportions from photo referance
Speed painting is great because after a while you feel more free and you learn to look at the drawing/painting as a whole first and not focus on the details. That and learnig how to flesh things out quickly.

First find a photo you like (something simple), then look at a picture that someone else did that you like.
Now, make the photo black and white. In 30mins, paint the photo mimicing and observing the techniques used by the other artist.
After 30 mins, add colour.
Finally, remove both photo and referance. and try again from scratch.
In the end if you compare them both, you can observe what you know, and what is missing from from your knowledge. Now you know where to focus your learning.
As you get more comfortable try and reduce the time you spend on each 20mins, 10mins, etc.
Good luck
  08 August 2007

Well I think finding time to draw is all about finding the right motivation to get up earlier in the morning, if your day is fully scheduled, and draw in the mornings.
On the other hand I think if you stop playing computer games like WOW and Oblivion then all of a sudden you'll have your daily hour more.
Of course if you really want to practise drawing and art, something needs to be sacrified (if thats the right word i' m german).
That doesn't mean you have to stop playing, just get your priorities straight, find two hours a week for your WOW (i know its HARD;-).
I was surprised how much time to draw I found just with a little discipline.
But the time you draw every day is much less important then consistency. Better draw every day for half an hour REALLY CONCENTRATED AND THINKING ABOUT WHAT YOU DRAW AND MOVE YOUR BRAINCELLS than drawing the whole day every two weeks.
I started drawing every day one year ago, after always drawing once a week and making no progression, now i CAN see progress.

But one thing really helped me more than all art books together: Visit youtube and search for digitalbobert. There are Videos where Bobby Chiu paints digital and talks about motivation, mindsets, the industry, teaching and so on. Really really useful stuff. Better than every How-to-motivate-yourself-Books. I often listen to him while drawing and it really helps.

Good luck and don't loose the FUN!

  08 August 2007
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