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Digital Painting: Architecture
Illustration by John Hersey

Establishing compositional structure


From:

Digital Painting: Architecture

with John Derry

Video: Establishing compositional structure

OK. We know that we have to eliminate detail. But do we just smear away the photo into oblivion? No. This is the step in which you establish the major compositional structure of the painting. This is not rocket science. The composition is already established in the photograph. The goal here is to highlight the composition through an almost-abstraction of the image. In this segment, we'll look into breaking down the photo's composition. OK, so here we are, we've got our image. And, I'm just going to show you just a little exercise that really is a good way to stop looking at this image as the photographic elements that it is and to start thinking of it more in, just flat planes, almost an abstraction.
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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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Digital Painting: Architecture
4h 46m Intermediate Jan 03, 2013

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Learn to think like a painter and render images that look like they were created with oils or acrylics, using the latest digital artist's tools. Author and artist John Derry introduces the process of interpreting a photograph into a painted work of art. He begins by explaining his system of visual vocabularies, which describe how to replace the visual characteristics of a photograph with that of expressive painting, and also shares the custom brush sets and actions he uses to achieve these results in Adobe Photoshop. The course also covers working with filters, layers, effects, and more to add further detail and texture.

Topics include:
  • Setting up a Wacom tablet
  • Removing lens distortions
  • Correcting distracting image elements
  • Making shadow and highlight adjustments
  • Simplifying details with filters and Smart Blur
  • Modifying color
  • Cloning layers
  • Using a traditional paint color swatch set
  • Using custom actions
  • Working with canvas texture
  • Creating physical surface texture effects
  • Painting with custom brushes
Subjects:
Design Design Techniques Digital Painting
Software:
Photoshop Wacom
Author:
John Derry

Establishing compositional structure

OK. We know that we have to eliminate detail. But do we just smear away the photo into oblivion? No. This is the step in which you establish the major compositional structure of the painting. This is not rocket science. The composition is already established in the photograph. The goal here is to highlight the composition through an almost-abstraction of the image. In this segment, we'll look into breaking down the photo's composition. OK, so here we are, we've got our image. And, I'm just going to show you just a little exercise that really is a good way to stop looking at this image as the photographic elements that it is and to start thinking of it more in, just flat planes, almost an abstraction.

And so, we're not even at the point yet of establishing all of our layering and everything. I'm just using the base photograph and I'm going to create a new layer on top of it. And I'm going to grab one of my brushes, probably the Round Blunt, and the Opaque Round Blunt is a good one. And all I'm going to do here, make sure I have black, I'm just going to start to break this image down into what are kind of the major structural elements of it. You can see this background is actually a pair of rectangles, more or less, then we've got this area here.

Obviously, we have the building, and it is at least this shape, and then we've got things protruding out of that main rectangle. Now, the thing is, you can keep doing this and getting more and more granular in what you're describing in here. And I don't want you to go all the way down to doing the eyelashes on the little girl, but we just want to start to take anything that really stands out as an element. In this case, all the windows certainly seem to be an element that pops out.

This doorway, again this window over here, here's another kind of division of the building, you know, we've got little things happening here. I don't want to get too boiled down, as I said, into detailed level. So, right there, if we turn off our background, well, there's our basic structure within this image. That's how simple this image actually is. And at the underpainting level, we're not going to get much more than into describing these shapes.

The brush will obviously pick up the color that is in that area of the image. Actually, here's another little kind of division we can do right here. But the idea is that we're really not looking at this as a castle-like structure, in a background, and blue sky on the horizon. We're looking at it as a series of shapes. And they're just flat. They're flat shapes on a plane. And, by breaking this down and looking at it this way, before you even start applying the brush to the canvas, this kind of gives you an idea of really how skeletal the underpainting should be.

In traditional painting, the underpainting is often used to establish some of the composition of the image and some of the basic tonal characteristics that are going to be employed in the image as it's finalized. But really, it's there as a structural framework. So, don't think at this point that you're painting a building, or painting sky, or anything in particular. All you are painting is flat planes that are ultimately going to represent elements in the image. But at this point, it's basically an abstraction.

Just keep in mind, underpainting is the stage of translation in which you reduce the source photograph to its essential, constituent parts. Remember, ignore the details and you'll selectively restore them later.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Digital Painting: Architecture.


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Q: I'm unable to install the custom Wacom settings included with the exercise files. Any advice on how to load them?
A: After the course was recorded, we discovered that the Wacom preference files are not cross-platform and are specific to the machine that created them, which limits their use. However, in the exercise files you'll find a PDF labeled Intuos4 Mapping_PS_CS5.pdf; using this document, you can manually enter the settings in the Wacom control panel. Also, please note that the settings are not necessary to complete the course.
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