“Here is the first tutorial I promised for the Cheetah painting I will be working on soon. Whether I will continue with these depends on the response and my ability to improve the product I am giving you. One concern is that the quality of the images is not what I hoped for in the document. I saved them as jpeg, which may have knocked the quality down so I will see if a tiff file will work better. Another concern is that this is a cumbersome way of presenting the material. Finally, as I delve deeper into the actual painting, the steps and results will be harder to document in this manner.
With that being said, I think this first tutorial is very good for anyone with a passing acquaintance of Gimp 2.8 that is thinking of playing around with it as a digital painting program. I explain a lot about the use of layers (basically sheets of paper) and how they interact with each other. I show how you can take the drawing you scan in and separate the pencil sketch from the white background, along with why you would want to. I show in this tutorial all the steps I take in setting up everything I will use to make the final painting. In addition, I give many of the reasons for my choices and some examples of what I did before learning to set up as I do now.”
Hi folks, I just wanted to give you an update on plans for my Patreon site for the near future. After I finish the current two projects, the repaint of my old rodeo image (the cave scene) and the random planet, I plan to jump into the third in my “It’s All Connected” series featuring the cheetah, which is already drawn, the planet Mercury, and the planet Venus. What I intend to do with this project; however, is not to just give you updates but also give patrons of my site (Robert Garbin’s Patreon page) a weekly written tutorial about the painting.
Basically, I will show my patrons every step from setting up the drawings and canvases, as well as, the reference materials to the choices I make in reaching the final product. I will explain how I use Gimp 2.8 as a painting platform, which can be used for their own work or they can just enjoy the deeper insights into how my work comes together. As you know at this point, I am not a professional artist or teacher, but I am not without talent and experience, much of which I taught myself. Lessons that I would enjoy sharing with others.
This will be my first attempt at doing this, meaning another self-taught experience, so the lessons will be as much a work in progress as the painting itself. I intend the lessons to be an introduction on both basic computer image manipulation and painting along with aesthetic choices in producing said images. The reason I use Gimp 2.8 is because it is free and surprisingly powerful. Professionals use more commercial programs that I can not address; however, much of the functionality will be the same so that you can transfer the lessons learned here to them. I am only teaching the basics I use in my art. My hope is to build an audience of artists like myself whom do not have the resources to dive deeply into computer artwork but would still like to try it.
Finally, the reason I say a written tutorial is because I do not know enough to do a professional video tutorial and not a comfortable enough person to be the focus of such a video. As time goes on that may change but for now I will try this method. Let me know what you think.
I was talking to someone about art recently after I showing them my newer digital work and they mentioned they felt digital painting was to paraphrase “cheating”. They felt it was too easy. To be fair, I have felt this way myself at times and think a lot about it with the projects I am working on. My main qualm I guess is with photo-manipulation and the use of skin textures over actual painting of the textures.
I have seen some very well done photo-manipulations but I still do not feel they are artwork. They are more of a craft. Yes, there are artistic skills and sensibilities required to make a good manipulation; however, they are not as in-depth as someone who creates the image from scratch not using other people’s work. The skill level is not as high. In my own work, I have used many of the skills of photo-manipulation to arrange and join various elements of my final images, but each of those elements was hand created by me from the initial drawing to the digital painting. The digital paintings I do also do not use any kind of pre-made texture like fur or rock to fill in parts of the image. Each element is handled like a physical painting.
Where I struggle a little with my own work is that there are some techniques I use that could not be done easily in the real world but are very simple in the digital domain. For instance, keeping a foreground element separate from the background so that you can paint the background freely is not so easy in the real world and has damaged the quality of some of my physical artwork. However, in the digital domain it is as simple as two separate layers. Then there is the issue of brushes. Some brushes are actually like stamps such as leaves or plants that can be used to fill in landscapes. For the most part I avoid these brushes but I do make use of another ability of brushes, which is that they can be animated. Yes, this is something you can’t do with a real brush, but I have found it necessary to achieve softer effects because the digital brushes are basically stamps and have no real world shape or characteristics. A digital brush is nothing more than the tip of a real brush as a stamp, even the more complex ones. There is no fulcrum between the fingers and the tip as with a real paint brush so they tend to be more rigid and need animation to add some randomness to their use at times. I liken digital painting to working with color pencils where there is more control as opposed to a paint brush, which takes more technique to manipulate. Not that pencil work does’t have its own challenges but the placement of pigment is much more direct and controlled with a pencil compared to a brush.
So, as you can see, I enjoy the work I have been able to produce using a digital format, but I do question some of my assumptions while creating them. My take; however, is to create and paint as much as I can as if I was painting in the real world. I use stamping style brushes as little as possible or not at all. For the most part I use the round or soft round brush to paint with but lately have been using a pencil-shaded animated sponge brush to achieve some of the effects of a real airbrush since the brush alone would be a stamp. Let me know your thoughts on the subject.
There are certain processes I have come to follow when creating a digital painting. First and foremost for me is to draw the individual elements. At one time I would have tried to set them on the same piece of paper and worked with them where they were, not allowing myself the freedom to rethink the layout of the final image. Because I struggled so much to find time to draw or paint, I had a bad habit of giving up on ideas if they did not work out right away. I am now thankful for Gimp allowing me to correct parts of an image without affecting the larger painting, much as word-processor allows a two finger typist to complete a large number of short stories. Another thought on drawing the initial images is that mine are always drawn freehand. Even if I struggle to get the image right, I still use my drawing. It is an integrity issue for me.
Once I have the drawings done, I scan them into the computer as a jpegs. As I have gotten more comfortable using Gimp, I have learned to keep the elements separate until I am ready to place them into the final picture. I take each image and make the drawings sit on a transparent background. Then I create a transparent layer above or below the drawing layer, depending on where I think I will have trouble working on the image. This is where I will paint the actual artwork. In addition, I will add another layer below these, which will become a temporary background that can be changed as needed to better see the painting I am working on.
Next comes the under painting. This is where I just put the basic colors on the image such as skin tone, hair color, or fabric color. I don’t work on details at this point; I just want to completely fill in the areas I intend to work on with their basic colors. After the under painting is done, I will begin the true creation of the individual pieces. The detail work is the longest part of any painting for me.
When I have the parts done as much as I can or want, I will copy them into a larger final image as different layers. I like to keep them in layers until the very end in case I need to adjust their position without affecting anything I have done on the background piece I placed them on. However, there comes a point in most images where I have to combine the layers into one to help with connecting them into one coherent picture. My current habit is to hold off as long as I can. At this point it is all about making adjustments around the parts to make them fit the larger image. Then I tinker with the painting until I am done.
I just wanted to mention that I added another $5 patronage reward to my page. The post details the struggles and successes I had in creating the cover for the Mystics and Misfits. It also includes my first progression file of the process, starting with the scanned in image and ending with the finished product. I think this would be a helpful post for someone starting out in painting using Gimp 2.8.
Does anyone want to do a blog tour with me to help promote my Patreon page. This will be my first one ever so I will be learning as I go and would appreciate any help. Also, I want to promote art and SFF writing so anyone interests in these areas can join in. I will start working things out once I see if I get any takers. Just follow my blog (should be able to connect to you that way) and leave a comment letting me know. Thanks.