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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.
What you're seeing me do now is, reintroduce the high-frequency detail that I keep talking about. And what I mean by that, it's just, it's the smallest amount of detail. You can almost call it noise, and if you look at this, there's a lot of movement, energy, and small elements happening and as a result, it's something that our eye typically will kind of focus in on. Now, I don't necessarily want to make the grass the subject of this, but we do need to instill a certain amount of detail in here to at least indicate grass, and there's that indicate word again.
So, I'll be doing a lot of detail now in the foreground, in front of the castle, and then in this background area. This is one of these areas where we have to ask ourselves, is this the actor or is this the stage? And this is definitely the stage, not an actor, so I am not going to put a lot of detail into this. But hopefully you're seeing throughout this that this is all just very indicating type strokes. There, it's really not delineating specific clouds, for example.
It's just providing a textural element that when we back out and look at this, because all the colors came from the original sky, they're going to be the right colors in the right place to help the eye connect the dots and see basically a sky, even though it's really just a bunch of scribbling at this point. Some of what we talked about, at the beginning, about not changing your strokes in the middle. This is a definite area, where, you know, I wouldn't want to start introducing a completely different kind of stroking technique.
So, however I started this, which is just kind of this back and forth diagonal. I don't want to all of a sudden, decide to do it the other direction or something. You want that consistency of stroke. Now, see how much that looks like the sky when we back out from it. It's pretty consistent with the original sky, because we were basically using those colors, so add just a little more detail to this. Add some interest just to the edge, the horizon line, so there's a little bit more of a obvious break.
And again, you can see I'm not even looking at the image anymore. I'm just guesstimating based on what I've already done here. All that prep work we did preparing the image now makes it fairly simple to paint. Because we are pretty much funneling those original colors through the brush. And as a result, I don't have to think about what color to paint in any one spot. I will, when I get onto my layer that I'm applying my own color. But at this point, it's just what is in the image is what's coming through the brush.
And I just realized when, and why I'm going back here, I think I do want just a little more detail. And here's another little trick. See, this is why I like the fan brush, particularly if you have the art pen. I can turn this on edge and without having to change brushes, I've now got a nice, thin line. And I use this brush so much that I typically don't even think about the fact that I'm moving it around in my hand to get from this wide brush, like I did now, to a thin brush like I'm painting with now, so it gives you a way to quickly get different sizes of brush without changing to a different brush.
OK, now here's this trick for adding detail that I use. I'm going to switch, and this is the first time we've actually gone to a different brush or even a library. I'm going to switch over to my airbrushes and I'm going to use the sorted version where they're organized according to type. I never change this, because I always want to make sure that my brushes are exactly the same each time, so I never save brushes. Unless I do something very specific that I would want back. What we're going to go to here is the variable opaque grainy airbrush here, so its opaque, and you'll see here how it works, and I'll do a little sample of it.
In fact, I might do this on a separate layer, that's another good technique. Whenever you're going to do something different here, you don't want to necessarily screw up what may be important information on this, I believe, yeah. See, this has all of the facade of the building. I may want that layer separate to adjust it, so I'm going to create another layer, and we're going to use our airbrush, and you can see the new airbrush. And I'll just do a little sample spray here with just a obviously wrong color so we can see it. See what it's doing, it's spraying out, and I'm going to use that to indicate fine detail, like leaves, for example, and there's a couple things we can do here.
One of the things I'll do is, I'll use my Wacom shortcut to grab a color here. And I'm going to test this out, and I'm probably going to want to adjust these colors up a little bit. Also, I notice I have Texture on, and I do want Texture off for this. Now it's going to be way too much. Yeah, see how that's too much. So I'm going to undo that, and if we go to the brush controls, we can go to the brush tip shape and I can play with this. For example, we can see how large the spatter size is.
I want to reduce this down so it's going to be smaller, more like that. I can also adjust how much is spattering out, by, if I widen the spacing. See how I'm getting less, I want to have pretty close control over this, so let's try that, there. See now, I'm getting the illusion of a lot more detail without actually painting every single leaf on that tree. And I'll probably play with my hue here, to just be able to introduce multiple colors.
And once again at this point, I'm not even paying attention to the real colors anymore, I'm utilizing, and you want to be spare with these brighter colors, don't want to get them too much. But, the idea here is we're just going to put some detail in here, so it's going to give a sense of more detail than really is there. That's the whole thing, it's all of what indication is about. Put some autumn-like colors in, a little darker, little more red.
And so you can see, it's just kind of a matter of going around and kind of playing with the colors that are in there, but just probably a little bit brighter. Now see how that, if I turn that on and off, see what a difference that makes? It looks so much more detailed. And it's really just that spatter, is all it is. And yet, it's not over-attracting attention, it's still mostly delegated as a stage element, not a actor element.
Let me do just a little bit in the field here as well. Now for this I'm going to actually grab that color and probably just juice it up a little bit with saturation. See you don't really even hardly, let's just test it. Yeah, see it's there, but it maybe needs to be a little a little brighter. Not much. And I'm not going to worry too much about hitting the building because I can erase that. Basically what the airbrush is doing here is, it's introducing noise. We're bring high frequency noise back in to the image.
But it's, it's all artist-added, not photographically-added. So, while it gives the illusion of density like you would see in a photograph, it's not created by photographic means, it's created by artistic means in this case. So over there, I am on one layer. And here I am on this other layer. But look at the difference, in general, you do get much more detail going on. One thing I noticed when I painted in using the cloner brush, this railing, particularly over here, just didn't quite grab the dark color that I wanted.
So, I'm going to hand-paint that in, then I'll just do that in one of these top layers here. And so we're going to switch back now to our artist brushes. And get the flat fan, make it very small, and for this I'm going to get real close. And I'm going to grab that color right there. Let's check over here, same thing. Now, here's where I started talking about highlights.
Putting in highlights are going to make this seem not just like black lines, but actual metal objects, so I'm going to really reduce my brush size down here. And I'm looking up here. I just want to see how small. I probably don't want to go all the way to one, but a two brush is probably good enough, and let's just, oh and I'm going to turn on Texture again, because that helps me to, pressure works a little bit better when texture is on. I can, there we go.
But see how, just these little highlights on here, you got to keep in mind where the sun is coming from. Want this to be pretty consistently vertical. Yeah, we might as well do it here, right now. And if it's not perfect, I call these happy accidents. I mean, if it doesn't go exactly the way you wanted it, that's part of the magic of hand-applied strokes, they're not perfect, and I'm not going to get obsessive about perfect placement, perfect straight lines.
That's what makes it look hand-done. And in fact, if you've watched this whole thing, it is hand-done. The whole image is hand-done. Yes, I'm using a photo as a guide, but I'm certainly not totally a slave to it. I need to fix these little spires at the very top, and add them. So, I'll probably use the detail layer and a cloner brush to do that. And why isn't that showing? Because we already used that area to paint the sky, I really don't have access anymore.
It's been painted over so the pixels on this layer are the sky layer, and so what I'll do in that case is create another layer group here. Let's close this, it's confusing. OK, so I'm going to create cloning layer group and I want it to happen above this. OK, so now I can go in here with my brush and pick this up. And this is a good example of where you do want to have access to additional cloning layers, because even though I'm going to use it in just one little spot here, it gives me the ability to do this where I had already kind of used that up for the sky.
Though right now it's above the reference layer, so I'm going to just slide this down here. What we can do is we don't need this open right now. Just put it in the top of the detail strokes. Actually I'm going to drop it down so it's below this one little painted detail layer here, right here, and I'm going to use this to do a little painting on these. I might want to add a highlight or two.
And some of my jumping around here may throw you off, like how do I know which one's which. You get used to this, and I should be more cognizant of naming these, but as I get going, the worst thing you have to do is turn it on and off and see, you know, what layer it is. What's on that layer. But not necessarily something you have to do all the time. So I'm just going to start throwing a little highlights on here, not that they'd actually be white, but again, we're going for contrast at this point so whether or not these are truly correct colors is less important, just little bits and pieces like that.
Now, you can see here that I am basically painting in the stained glass work that's in this door. And rather than painting the iron or the metal that holds the stained glass in, I'm painting the stained glass, so it's going to help emphasize it. Now, here's a little trick I'm going to use. Typically, the glass reflection isn't going to be exactly the same shade all the way through, it's going to have some variation through it.
So I'm taking a secondary color here, I make this, switch this to HSB. Just to give a feel of changing light on a reflective surface. Now, you can see as I am going through here that I'm highlighting the left side of each of these bits of stone. You don't have to follow slavishly every single brick in the building, but I do want to emphasize it enough so that it is a detail that can be read.
You also have to remember that we do have some shadowing happening across this building, so it isn't consistently lit everywhere. And so you got to kind of make a judgment call about when and where you want to employ this. Basically keeping track of the sun angle being definitely from the left side. And just wherever I see an element that would probably catch a highlight, and even if it doesn't necessarily catch a highlight, every one of these we add, especially if we stay to the left side, is going to help provide a sense of lighting from the left, and I'll probably go back and do the same thing, only emphasizing the shadow side as well.
So this is actually a two part operation as you can imagine, it's going to take a little bit of time for this to happen. And while the little girl is a subject, in this case I don't want to add too much to her, because it's kind of like, is she there, is she not there? And in a way, I don't want this to necessarily be the first thing a viewer's going to look at. I want them to look at this for a while and eventually at some point go, oh, there's a little girl in there. It's not necessarily something that you're going to see immediately.
Now just looking over at that ball seems it doesn't have enough shadow on it. So I'm going to add one. I'm just going to grab this darker color here, and to do this so that I don't over do it, I'm going to go to my texture and turn this down so I can't get too dark, or I can't go all the way into the grain. There we go, just enough so it kind of gives a sense of shadowing.
Maybe a little bit more right at the edge. Now, one thing that's popping out a little bit much is this building up here. I want it to be there, but that's, it's a distraction. If you notice, your eyes probably, even when you're looking at the building, it kind of goes over here, because that's such a contrast. So, let's go in and darken that a little bit. See what color it is to begin with, and just tone it down. There, now it's not nearly as obtrusive.
Well, that looks pretty good to me. I'm going to go ahead and say this is basically done, but we're also going to take a look at a few aspects of things you'd want to do even after you think it's done. So we'll talk about it in the next movie.
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