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Determining a style and sticking to it

From: Digital Painting: Architecture

Video: Determining a style and sticking to it

The style of brushwork done on the underpainting basically defines the style of brushstroke used for the rest of the painting. Everyone has a different style, so I'm not going to try to tell you how to define yours. But I do recommend using a loose versus a tight style. Why? Because a tight style tends to meticulously follow the shapes and detail of the source photograph. What is the result? A painting that looks like a photograph, which is what we're working to avoid. A loose style places a premium on spontaneity, the antithesis of photography, and a key vocabulary element of expressive painting.

Determining a style and sticking to it

The style of brushwork done on the underpainting basically defines the style of brushstroke used for the rest of the painting. Everyone has a different style, so I'm not going to try to tell you how to define yours. But I do recommend using a loose versus a tight style. Why? Because a tight style tends to meticulously follow the shapes and detail of the source photograph. What is the result? A painting that looks like a photograph, which is what we're working to avoid. A loose style places a premium on spontaneity, the antithesis of photography, and a key vocabulary element of expressive painting.

Let's take a look at painting with a loose style. So, I keep saying this, but always remember, that the underpainting is not the detail layer. This is where you really get to be crazy, and do the loosest brush strokes you're probably going to do on the whole image. Now, let's go ahead, and I'm going to run the action here. So let's go down to Mixer Brush, Cloning Paint Setup, and here I am, I'm on my underpainting layer. Now, one of the things I'm going to show you here is some of the things that I would suggest you try before you even get started.

So you may find that this is just going to be play time or test time. You're not really going to necessarily start painting, but I'm going to grab a brush, and now for me, and this isn't necessarily you, I like the Flat Fan brush. And we talked about this a bit in the Wacom chapter, but, and I'm going to enlarge this, so I can talk about this. If you don't have the art pen, then you're not going to be able to do what I'm doing here, and you can see how, with my cursor, that I'm rotating the barrel of my brush and it's actually rotating the tip of the brush itself.

If you don't have that, you're probably not going to want to work with any of the flat variants, it'll make more sense to work with the round variants, because they are symmetrical, and you don't have the ability to turn the brush to get a narrow versus a wide angle on your brush. So you'll probably be more comfortable working with the round. But I do have the art pen, and I always say to people, I recommend it if you're going to do expressive work. It really adds to have that barrel rotation there. But that's just a little thing that I wanted to mention though, as I start working, 'cause some of you won't have this, and you'll be wondering, how is he doing that? I have the art pen.

OK, so one of the things you don't want to do, is to start somewhere, and you know, you may want to follow some of the angles in here and that's fine, but then, once you get done doing something like this kind of stroking, don't go over here and now, oh, I'm going to start doing this over here. Because what's going to happen, and again, let me just even make this a little more obvious. Then I come over here, and it's like I'm going to apply these kind of strokes, just little dabs.

Okay, now when you turn off the reference, it looks like someone's been kind of playing with their brush, and there's no cohesion to these different strokes. And you want to think about, the strokes are almost the atomic level of a painting, and there has to be some kind of coherence in that atomic level. If there isn't, you're going to end up with this kind of busy work that's disconnected, and obviously, we're looking at it here isolated. But if you did this in several different places, several different kinds of brush strokes, the end result is not going to hold together.

It's just going to look like a bunch of random strokes. So, part of establishing the style is to think about how you want to approach the brush stroking of your image, the brushwork, as I often call it. It's far less expressive at this level. Yes, you are expressing yourself through the strokes, but it's much more of just kind of this overall coverage of the image, initially. And so, once you start working with a certain kind of style, you're going to want to pretty much stick with it.

Now I've been doing it for so long that I don't even have to think about how I do this, but if you're just starting out, you may find that it is a bit hard to figure out, what's the right way to do this. And like so much in art, there is no right way. There are different ways, but you can't see that there is a wrong way. In fact, someone could break the rule I'm telling you of always using the same brush stroke, and probably do a successful painting without using, you know, the same style brushstroke twice in the whole underpainting.

So, you know, rules are made to be broken, but if we're starting out here in this, at the beginning of learning how to do this, you do want to try to maintain a style. Now, you can see sometimes, I'm not even thinking about it, but now that I'm watching myself, I am sometimes kind of describing these shapes that we looked at in the last video, and that doesn't hurt at all, and that ultimately becomes part of a style. The thing about style is, you can't necessarily be conscious of it.

A style evolves over time, and it just is part and parcel of your personailty, your habitual way of doing things. Some people tend to be very organized, some people are very disorganized. You know, all of those things are part of what is the mountain peak of all of those different emotions and feelings and habits, are what define a style. And so, you know, if you're doing this for the first time you probably are not going to have a style. And the other thing is, once you have a style, you almost don't see it.

It's the way you do things. Oh, someone else will look at it and go, oh yeah, I like that style you're doing. And it may hit you like, what is he talking about? What style? But it's true that a style is almost something you don't see or recognize in yourself. Art students and people kind of starting out are very conscious of it. One of the early things people will do is they'll try to imitate the styles of other artists they appreciate and like. And that's a great way to get started. But, you know, you ultimately don't want to look exactly like Van Gogh, even if he's your favorite painter.

You may take elements of their style, but it's not necessarily something that you're going to want to do in terms of looking just like a Van Gogh. What would be the goal in having people look at your work and say, wow you look just like Van Gogh? You don't want that, you want it to be your style. So, style is an elusive animal, and it's almost kind of hard to pin it down and put a true definition on it for each individual person. But the best thing I can tell you is, you want to make sure that once you start applying strokes in a certain manner, you don't want to all of a sudden decide, oh well I'm going to do it differently now.

That just is going to end up in a cacophony of unrelated strokes. So remember that the underpainting is the appropriate time to get loose and bring out the Willem de Kooning, or the Jackson Pollock in you. As we move forward towards more detail, the painting will tighten up some. A loose underpainting will make for a good contrast against which to paint with more precision.

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This video is part of

Image for Digital Painting: Architecture
Digital Painting: Architecture

49 video lessons · 11699 viewers

John Derry
Author

 
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  1. 26m 4s
    1. Introduction
      1m 3s
    2. Using the exercise files
      32s
    3. Installing custom content
      2m 46s
    4. Setting up Wacom express keys
      13m 32s
    5. Setting Wacom touch ring preferences
      2m 14s
    6. Setting Wacom stylus preferences
      3m 24s
    7. Division of labor: Image prep and painting
      2m 33s
  2. 19m 9s
    1. Visual vocabularies
      3m 49s
    2. The vocabulary of photography
      7m 38s
    3. The vocabulary of painting
      4m 59s
    4. Looking at reality through a mental painting filter
      2m 43s
  3. 38m 57s
    1. Removing lens distortion with the Adaptive Wide Angle filter
      6m 47s
    2. Removing distractions
      8m 7s
    3. Don't be a slave to the original photograph
      10m 51s
    4. Correcting image adjustments
      2m 58s
    5. Telling a story with added image elements
      10m 14s
  4. 25m 2s
    1. The eye has a better sensor than a camera
      3m 2s
    2. Adding natural shadows with Field Blur
      8m 47s
    3. Using the Shadow/Highlight adjustment filter
      7m 48s
    4. Using the HDR Toning filter
      5m 25s
  5. 39m 56s
    1. Resolution is in the brushstrokes
      3m 26s
    2. Using the Surface Blur filter
      6m 17s
    3. Using the Displacement filter to add imperfections
      6m 22s
    4. Using the Oil Paint filter
      11m 51s
    5. Making tonal and color corrections
      12m 0s
  6. 22m 40s
    1. Nondestructive layer painting (NDLP): Your creative safety net
      5m 54s
    2. Setting up the Mixer Brush cloning action
      7m 29s
    3. Using cloning layers
      2m 58s
    4. Working with adjustment layers
      6m 19s
  7. 20m 7s
    1. Using tool presets and not brushes
      3m 41s
    2. Categorizing and organizing brushes
      6m 14s
    3. Adding canvas texture
      4m 51s
    4. Using Sample All Layers
      5m 21s
  8. 14m 48s
    1. You must destroy detail
      2m 9s
    2. Establishing compositional structure
      3m 46s
    3. Determining a style and sticking to it
      7m 30s
    4. Painting in progress: Finishing the underpainting layer
      1m 23s
  9. 26m 40s
    1. Understanding simplified indication
      9m 9s
    2. Understanding color: Warm advances, cool retreats
      4m 9s
    3. Painting in progress: Introducing texture to the intermediate layer
      13m 22s
  10. 40m 19s
    1. The play's the thing
      5m 18s
    2. Focusing on the subject through detail
      4m 40s
    3. Using a traditional paint color swatch set
      4m 37s
    4. Painting in progress: Completing the detail layer
      16m 25s
    5. Adding surface texture effects
      9m 19s
  11. 12m 47s
    1. It pays to wait a day
      1m 55s
    2. Adjusting your importance hierarchy
      4m 49s
    3. You'll never paint the same thing twice
      2m 7s
    4. Helpful resources and inspiration
      3m 56s

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