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Looking at reality through a mental painting filter

From: Digital Painting: Street Scene

Video: Looking at reality through a mental painting filter

When you're out shooting photos, an essential skill to utilize is to look at the world as if it were painted. I call this my mental painting filter. This skill goes hand in hand with taking the time to look at and analyze traditional painted imagery. One of the best ways I can recommend for improving your eye for painting is to look at paintings, lots of them. Study the compositions, colors, subject matter, brushstrokes, and the like. A lot can be learned from simply searching the web for examples of genres, styles, and artists that interest you.

Looking at reality through a mental painting filter

When you're out shooting photos, an essential skill to utilize is to look at the world as if it were painted. I call this my mental painting filter. This skill goes hand in hand with taking the time to look at and analyze traditional painted imagery. One of the best ways I can recommend for improving your eye for painting is to look at paintings, lots of them. Study the compositions, colors, subject matter, brushstrokes, and the like. A lot can be learned from simply searching the web for examples of genres, styles, and artists that interest you.

Some museums' online web sites have representations of paintings that can be navigated in high resolution that lets you get your nose up close and see the detail. It is particularly useful to observe how the surface of a well-photographed painting appears to the eye. Later in the course, I'll demonstrate how to incorporate some of these physical surface characteristics into your paintings. This technique works well, particularly when the finished artwork will be viewed on a display or the web.

Even better, visiting galleries and museums provides a greater appreciation for the physical aspects of a painting. Nothing can replace looking at the real thing. Take note of how lighting affects a painting's appearance. Look at how physical paint has the third dimension--depth. Some artists exploit this via the technique of impasto, which is intentionally applied thick paint. Observe how the artist incorporates the canvas weave into a painting's physical quality, as well as how thinly applied paint allows canvas texture to be visible.

A traditional painting projects an aura of physicality that is a part of its perceived value. Projecting some of these physical qualities into a digital painting can intimate some of this value into the artwork. Another important observation is to look at paintings, both up close to examine its physical characteristics, as well as stepping back to see how these characteristics' interpretation change with distance. For example, a few seemingly abstract gobs of paint viewed close up can become well-delineated foliage with highlights and shadows.

This is something that many digital painters ignore. When painting you must be aware of both close and far interpretations of painted artwork. Another very useful activity is to simply play with your digital paintbrushes. You don't need a subject or goal in mind; the idea is to explore the breadth, and variety of marks the brush is capable of. Experiment with how different colors mix and interact. Depending on the capabilities of your tablet's stylus, find out how the applied brush changes shape based on pressure, tilt, bearing, and rotation.

This activity is akin to driving a new car in order to explore how it performs and handles, and can be quite an enjoyable experience. In essence, know your brushes. They are the voice of your expression. The more you study and absorb the language of painting, the better your results will be when interpreting a photograph. Armed with this knowledge and experience, you can effectively look through the lens of a camera with your mental painting filter in place and reactively adjust how you choose to frame, compose, and light your subject matter.

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This video is part of

Image for Digital Painting: Street Scene
Digital Painting: Street Scene

45 video lessons · 14955 viewers

John Derry
Author

 
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  1. 8m 50s
    1. Welcome
      1m 11s
    2. Using the exercise files
      39s
    3. Installing custom brushes
      7m 0s
  2. 22m 3s
    1. Understanding the visual vocabulary
      4m 46s
    2. Using the vocabulary of photography
      6m 41s
    3. Using the vocabulary of painting
      7m 1s
    4. Looking at reality through a mental painting filter
      3m 35s
  3. 10m 22s
    1. Understanding that resolution is in the brush strokes
      3m 6s
    2. Understanding the subject
      7m 16s
  4. 16m 1s
    1. Removing lens distortions
      2m 33s
    2. Using the Free Transform tool
      4m 42s
    3. Using the Lens Correction filter
      4m 36s
    4. Understanding the ACR lens correction profiles
      4m 10s
  5. 12m 23s
    1. Working with Vibrance
      3m 14s
    2. Using the Match Color command
      2m 59s
    3. Understanding the traditional paint color swatch set
      6m 10s
  6. 16m 6s
    1. The eye has a bettor sensor than a camera
      3m 16s
    2. Using the Shadow/Highlight filter
      3m 17s
    3. Using the HDR Toning filter
      5m 23s
    4. Understanding how RAW files provide malleability
      4m 10s
  7. 14m 42s
    1. Working with the Reduce Noise filter
      2m 50s
    2. Working with the Surface Blur filter
      3m 6s
    3. Using Smart Blur for simplification
      2m 51s
    4. Working with the Topaz Simplify plug-in
      5m 55s
  8. 31m 10s
    1. NDLP: A creative safety net
      5m 1s
    2. Using custom actions
      9m 41s
    3. Using the reference layer
      5m 29s
    4. Cloning layers
      6m 5s
    5. Working with the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer
      4m 54s
  9. 17m 28s
    1. Brush categorization
      10m 1s
    2. Working with canvas texture
      3m 41s
    3. Using Sample All Layers
      3m 46s
  10. 12m 48s
    1. Being willing to destroy detail
      7m 21s
    2. Establishing the painting style
      5m 27s
  11. 25m 1s
    1. Simplified indication
      9m 3s
    2. Understanding color
      4m 10s
    3. Introducing texture
      11m 48s
  12. 17m 36s
    1. Providing rest areas for the eye
      6m 55s
    2. Focusing on the subject through detail
      10m 41s
  13. 24m 20s
    1. Being willing to depart from the original
      6m 48s
    2. Creating detail to enhance the artwork
      8m 36s
    3. Creating physical surface texture effects
      8m 56s
  14. 10m 33s
    1. Waiting a day
      4m 14s
    2. Examining your importance hierarchy
      6m 19s
  15. 57s
    1. Goodbye
      57s

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