Working on my Realistic Digital Painting



  • Hey, so I never really do realistic type stuff (you can see on my site shamsnelson.com that my style is mostly colorful, cartoony illustrations with dark, thick line-work) but I want to expand my horizons. I worked on this and would really appreciate any critiques/suggestions on how to improve. (Especially pertaining to the brushwork -- I'd like a more painterly style... I don't know how to explain it exactly, but I love paintings that look realistic from far away but then very close up you see lots of brush strokes and unblended colors than might be expected...)

    Painting in PS with no adjustments and only basic, airbrush, and blending brush:

    0_1471287105496_digitalpainting-Falcon-Merlin.jpg

    After adjusting levels a bit:

    0_1471287168108_digitalpainting-Falcon-Merlin-adjusted.jpg

    Reference:

    0_1471287186411_magical-moments-with-merlin-inspired-nature-photography-by-shelley-myke.jpg



  • Looking at your site and this piece here, that is a huge difference. I think you are on the right path. The head size looks smaller in yours. I would also suggest using a hard brush as well as the airbrush. Using the airbrush to much will muddy the colors quicker. Using the hard brush will define your shapes. Great start!



  • @Shams-Nelson So how realistic do you want to go?

    Don't get me wrong--this is good and I can see where this is definitely more realistic than your portfolio work but I would say, again depending on how far you want to push this, you are a good base to now start really rendering the details.



  • @Chip-Valecek Thanks! Yea, that's a good tip. When working with the hard brush do you keep the opacity at a certain level, or have it set with pressure usually? Any technical tips in that regard. I know it's not one size fits all, but any specific pointers would be appreciated.

    @mattramsey Not really sure. Not photo-realistic though. The best explanation I can think of is what I put in my original post... "painterly style... I don't know how to explain it exactly, but I love paintings that look realistic from far away but then very close up you see lots of brush strokes and unblended colors than might be expected..."

    Something along these lines is the "realistic" style I like:

    alt text



  • If I were you, before continuing on the bird, I would work the background a bit more. if you look at the photo, it's a bit lighter than yours and there's some kind of a really light halo around the bird, as well as a soft reflective light. it would allow to soften the edges of the bird as well as changing the values and colours relationships in your painting



  • @Shams-Nelson I usually keep the brush at 100% opacity and let the pen pressure do the rest.



  • @Shams-Nelson Perfect!

    Now do a study of that exact piece --I promise you you will learn a ton and be a lot closer to your goal!

    I'd love to see the results!



  • @audrey-dowling Awesome thanks! That's some very actionable advice. Softening edges is something I have very little practice in so it should be a good challenge.

    @Chip-Valecek Ok cool, thanks for the insight 🙂

    @mattramsey Gah! I used to hate doing master studies in art school, but I'm sure you're very right. Ok, I'll have to put that on my agenda and post the results.



  • Beautiful! Really beautiful! I'm impressed.



  • @Marsha-Kay-Ottum-Owen 🙂 Why thank you!



  • @Shams-Nelson said in Working on my Realistic Digital Painting:

    @mattramsey Gah! I used to hate doing master studies in art school, but I'm sure you're very right. Ok, I'll have to put that on my agenda and post the results.

    Hmm, why is that? Too hard or did you feel like it was a waste of time (like: you would rather be doing your own) or something else?

    Just curious because I've never really heard someone mention that before.



  • @mattramsey yea, takes a lot of time and I usually didn't learn too much, mostly because of my mindset of just wanting to get the thing done probably.

    The reason i like making art is to create things from my imagination. Give those things form. Or else to explore and see what happens. Master studies don't really have those aspects and even if I were to get it perfect I'd think... so what? They already did it. I haven't contributed anything new....



  • @Shams-Nelson I definitely get where you are coming from regarding not contributing anything new and wanting to create from your imagination.

    But i guess i don't really understand not learning anything from master studies. I don't mean this to sound combative but: maybe you aren't doing it right?
    I mean, if you were able copy it exactly then presumably you will have gone through most of the steps the original artist did an you should have learned quite a bit. That's not to say you'll know perfectly emulate the style on your own but doing many copies from that artist will get you closer every time.

    It's probably not for everyone and I'm sure there is value in slogging through the process of doing everything on your own but I just feel that master copies are such a powerful learning tool.



  • I'm coming to the conclusion that doing master studies is a bit like being Rogue from X-Men....you don't actually become the artist you're studying, but by going through the process you absorb some of their powers.

    And if you do that enough times, with enough artists where you'd like to achieve the same quality of work, then eventually you'll do just that.. That's the plan anyway 🙂