Chunk smooth style in painting techniques

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  03 March 2015
Chunk smooth style in painting techniques

I'm done with this for now and even though its as complete as I wanted to create the picture I felt that I totally missed my goal, which is to achieve the look similar to the second or third photo. I spent some time trying to figure it out why and there's something here that I am not seeing or understanding. Did the screw up occur in the technique or understanding of the planes and how light should be hitting it or how I'm utilizing the brushes? I felt like I over blended and ended up with something more cartoon (it's missing that real feel to it). It's bothering me a lot and any help in seeing what I'm not able to would be appreciated, thanks!

  03 March 2015
The third one has a lot of visible textures, and the does not utilize so much blending/smudging, while yours is too smooth. The second one is pretty smooth and similar to yours, and what makes it more interesting is the more moody color palette and subdued lighting, and a more refined sense of detail and selective detail.

When you paint, think beyond the shapes and forms and lighting and surface property. That stuff's basic technical and visual art foundation proficiency, and you're supposed to get that stuff right. But more advanced artists aren't thinking about those issues so much, because they know they don't have problems with those basics, so they think far more about artistic sensibility, contemplating how they'll utilize brushwork to convey a specific aesthetic, or how they'll simplify unimportant elements while picking which elements to selectively detail, and to what degree. They also think about in what ways will they use abstraction in conjunction with simplification to make the less important areas still carry enough visual interest so they don't simply become irrelevant. They also think about which planes of the forms to accentuate to amp up the clarity of the forms (for stylization/aesthetic reasons), how to manage the values (and alter them for stronger readability), and whether and how to utilize colors that's not simply realistic but also artistic, such as having a specific palette to convey a particular mood, or using unrealistic but interesting accent colors (look at Pino Daeni, Susan Lyon/Scott Burdick, or Daniel Gerhartz's paintings).

While you're at it, also take a look at John Singer Sargent, Anders Zorn, Richard Schmid, Jeremy Lipking, Zhaoming Wu, and also classic American illustrators like Haddon Sundblom, Harry Anderson, Gil Elvgren, and their contemporaries. Look at how they approach the various aspects of artistic sensibility I previous described.
  03 March 2015
Oo that makes more sense, thanks Robert for pointing it out. I saw it in Sargents paintings but never really understood what he was doing. I guess thats why mastering foundations is very important. That list is pretty sick, I'm excited to look at them. I've mostly been just looking at the golden age illustrators. Hmm is there a way to learn or study this or does it come with experience after doing master copies of the artists you listed? Picking out whichever ones to simplify and ones to selectively detail?
  03 March 2015
I teach a workshop here at CGSociety and it covers all the critical foundations of visual art (linked in my signature below), including everything I mentioned previously. I don't know of any other workshop that covers the same breadth and depth. You might be able to piece together various resources on your own from online tutorials, books, other workshops, art classes, etc, although it might take you years to collect, absorb, practice, and assimilate all that. What I try to do in my workshop, is to teach all the critical foundation together so everything's connected, and I lay out the most effective learning/practicing strategy that will get the best and quickest result, instead of the student wasting years of precious time on their own going around in circles and using misguided methods and building up bad habits that become extremely hard to break later.
  03 March 2015
Oh man read that and it'd be perfect, unfortunately I'm too poor at the moment :( Probably once I find a job, thanks though! At least I know that workshop exists as an option.
  05 May 2015
I have a simpler analysis.

The value range in your flesh-coloured tones (the face) is very compressed.

As a matter of style there's nothing wrong with that. In fact the artist that painted the 2nd pic did the same thing to great effect. It's just that he or she used the same value palette for both face and hair. You've got your hair and face created from 2 different value ranges. I.e. to put it crudely, the face is very light and the hair is very dark.

Of course, it's possible that a real-life subject might have a light face and dark hair, but in your pic you've compressed each of those 2 areas separately to 2 different ranges. They just don't go together.

What would happen if you made a selection of the hair and did a levels adjustment and lightened the hair considerably?

  05 May 2015
Haha didn't think anyone else read this thread, thanks for responding! Did the selection thing and yeah it did flow a lot better, so gotta keep that in mind next time. I just looked at the subject's photo and copied it, hoping it'd look somewhat real or accurate haha. Looking at this again, Robert is right with regards to the interpretation of what I'm seeing and how to convey it (which is probably hard to learn and require a lot of man hours).

In regard to painting in general with regards to the value ranges, I should keep keep the value ranges similar throughout the whole piece? Or should the value ranges only be similar on the same object in the painting? Ie) a robot's value range can be completely different from a car?
  05 May 2015
Originally Posted by end5er: ...
In regard to painting in general with regards to the value ranges, I should keep keep the value ranges similar throughout the whole piece?

If you want some semblance of tonal realism, like you get in a photograph, then yes. (As opposed to, say, a Van Gogh)

I hesitated to use the word photograph there because I know that it's going to be automatically misinterpreted by a lot of people, so let me elaborate a bit:

The 2nd pic you posted is not photographically real, but the artist chose a style of tonal reproduction that is consistent across the whole subject the way a photograph would be. So it all hangs together and looks unified.

Even if you put the original photograph you copied into photoshop and ran one of the artistic style filters over it (e.g. paint daubs, water colour, etc) I bet you could still tell that it originated from a photographic source. Even if you crank the coarseness of the strokes right up it's amazing how "photograph-like" such a distorted image remains, simply because the values (and tones) remain intact.

There used to be a fantastic breed of artists who painted photo-like landscapes and architecture on sheets of glass for movies - the glass matte painters of yesteryear. They had good draftsmanship for sure (especially when it came to perspective), but if you looked at their work close up the paint strokes were often extremely crude and you would swear no one in the audience could possibly mistake this for a photograph. However, step back and all those splodges of paint blended together and the image in its entirety would amaze you with its photorealism - because they got the values and tones just right. even while the accuracy of detail was rough and ready.

The moral of this is that there is more to life-like accuracy than just the dexterity of your paint strokes. You need precision in your colour choices too.

  05 May 2015
Value coherency relies on relative consistency and credible lighting.

You have to learn how light actually works, how shadows are cast, how colors bleed during radiosity, etc. Here's a nice beginner's tutorial on this: There's is a lot more beyond the scope of that tutorial, but that's a good place to get started.

Once you understand the basic principle of how light and shadow works, you then have to pay attention to value coherency. For example, if an matte object with a light value and a object with dark value are both lit to the same degree by the same light, at a similar position, then you have to make sure that the two objects have the same level of increase in highlight and same level of decrease in shadow. You can't give one object highlights that +5 levels while give the darker object only a highlight of +1 level. They both have to be raised in the highlights to the same level. Same with shadows. So regardless of what your local value is, you have to be consistent in how highlights and shadows are raised and lowered based on how your scene is lit.

The material of the surface makes a difference too. A highly specular surface will reflect light much more strongly than a matte surface, so even if two objects are of the same local value, if one is made of glass and one is made of clay, they will reflect light differently.

These are just some basic concepts you need to grasp if you want your work to look credible. There's a lot more to learn beyond these basics (I teach all that and so much more, in the Becoming a Better Artist workshop, right here at CGSociety).
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