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 added a jpg image of one of the drawings I did in my teens. It shows what I talked about in an earlier post, how I would not plan out a drawing but simply build it as I went. The post details how the drawing progressed and why I decided to quit before finishing. Of course the piece was a fantasy drawing, which I did a lot of then.
Yeah, whatever. That is how much I thought about composition when I first started drawing. Do you know that my earliest method of drawing was to start an image on the part that most interested me and work my way outwards. Really! I would start on someone’s eyes and build the face from there. Surprisingly I could manage a decent likeness that way but I also ran into proportional issues later, especially when I tried to work out to a full figure. This is probably why I still have issues drawing people.
If you look at some of my oldest works, you can see the way I worked from one point to another without a specific initial plan. I take more time planning today then I did but I have some hang ups left over that still give me trouble. One of the biggest is that I don’t leave enough space around my images for framing. I have the habit of drawing right up to the edge of the paper. I actually did that on Quiet Strength – Silent Vulnerability. However, I will ask for some indulgence in this instance since I worked from a reference image that was set up that way. I drew the tiger as I saw it in the photo without attempting to extrapolate what I could not see, which caused trouble when I pasted the image onto the larger canvas of the final image. The top part of the tiger’s head was sheared off and I had to add it in. Before I make a print available, I am going to add a white border so you can matte it without covering the image.
Working in the digital realm is helpful to me in dealing with this deficiency since I can adjust the images as I add them to the final canvas. I like being able to work on parts separately as I did when younger then lay them out properly in a larger image. This is where the ability to have separate layers in an image really comes in handy. I like to keep images in their layers until I am sure they fit the total composition. As I put together more progression files, you will see how I use these layers to build an image.
I uploaded another $5 reward to my Patreon page. It is the drawing I used to make a Christmas present for my sister who loves diving. I do not currently have a photo of the finished painting I did in oils, but will add it as soon as I can. One thing I like to see from artist are the drawings they do for paintings. Several Science Fiction and Fantasy artist collectible card sets show their well-known book covers and images along with little vignette drawings of earlier versions or similar works. I found myself wishing they had made more of some of the drawing. They were that good.