Digital Painting: Architecture
Illustration by John Hersey

Painting in progress: Introducing texture to the intermediate layer


Digital Painting: Architecture

with John Derry

Video: Painting in progress: Introducing texture to the intermediate layer

As we advance into the intermediate layer of our translation, it's time to start introducing some texture into the mix. Within the vocabulary of painting, the appearance of canvas texture is a way of re-establishing the high frequency detailed destroyed in the underpainting step. We can effectively use this detail to control the viewer's eye, and weigh the importance of the subject matter in a scene. Let's take a look. So, here we are, this is where we were at when last we spoke, and one of the things I realized when I went to do this, is that now that I'm talking about texture, I wish I had used texture when I started painting these strokes.
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  1. 26m 4s
    1. Introduction
      1m 3s
    2. Using the exercise files
    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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Watch the Online Video Course 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
Photoshop Wacom
John Derry

Painting in progress: Introducing texture to the intermediate layer

As we advance into the intermediate layer of our translation, it's time to start introducing some texture into the mix. Within the vocabulary of painting, the appearance of canvas texture is a way of re-establishing the high frequency detailed destroyed in the underpainting step. We can effectively use this detail to control the viewer's eye, and weigh the importance of the subject matter in a scene. Let's take a look. So, here we are, this is where we were at when last we spoke, and one of the things I realized when I went to do this, is that now that I'm talking about texture, I wish I had used texture when I started painting these strokes.

So, it brings up an interesting conundrum. How do we now get rid of this, and continue on? Well, I've mentioned this before, but this is a good practical application of it, so I'm going to show you this. I could certainly go in here then, and use my eraser, for example, to get rid of this. Seems like the obvious thing to do, just erase it and start over. So now I'm going to go ahead and pick my brush to work with, and I'm going to go down here and grab the Cloner Flat Fan and I'm going to go ahead and start to paint in here.

We want to for sure turn on our preference layer, and I'll go ahead and I'll start painting. Wait a minute, nothing's happening. What is wrong? I should be painting, shouldn't I? Well, we mentioned this before, but here's the gotcha. If you erase one of these Cloning Layers, you are not only erasing the one percent of secret sauce that is in the layer, which is the image, but you're also erasing the alpha channel that made it visible.

So once we've done that, when I go back now there is no pixels to get color from, there is no alpha channels, so it cannot produce color anymore. Now in an area where I haven't done it, yeah there it is. See if I turn this off you can see my brushwork there, but over here, we've largely lost it. In fact, it will only start to show up when we get outside where it can pick up color again. So what do you do, when something like this happens? Well, you can't fix it unless you have enough Undos to get back.

But I really didn't, because I'd painted so many strokes, there was no way to ever get back to it. And that's why I have a backup method, which is one of the optional actions in the Cloning Layer Extras. There's one here, Create Cloning Layer Group. So, I've lost this cloning layer, and it's unfortunate, and I've lost a little bit of work, but at least I have a band-aid here that I can put on it. So this intermediate strokes group is really no good anymore. It is everywhere else, and if that's the issue then you could just continue to paint everywhere else, but you would never be able to recover what's going on in there.

So we're going to go ahead and we're going to create this cloning layer group, but I want to show you a couple things here. So I'm going to go ahead and run it, let's go right here, close that, and run this. Say okay, and we got this strange little, doesn't work, what's wrong? I don't get it. Okay, so let's stop and, and here's why you get that error. The Reference Layer is turned off. Just, the way this works, it needs to have the reference layer on when it makes a cloning layer group.

So I'm going to enable it, and let's run it once again. Say OK. And there now it made our group. So, if you run into that little hiccup, it means that you didn't have the reference layer on. And now, thinking about it, I think that's part of what it actually says in that little dialogue that comes up. So, that should warn you to be sure to have your reference layer on. I wasn't paying attention, and I wrote it. OK, now we've got a new cloning layer group. And it automatically always places it up here at the top. But we want to go ahead and drop it down here, just above our intermediate cloning layer group.

So now we've got another cloning layer group we can work with. I can no longer paint on that one part of the cloning layer in the intermediate group in that area. However, anywhere outside of it, it works. But what I'll need to do is in this area where I can no longer paint, I can use the cloning layer group. Or in this case, it probably actually makes more sense just to get rid of the bad intermediate strokes group that we had, and just use this Cloning Layer Group.

In fact, just to make things like they were, I'm going to rename this intermediate. So, we now have replaced it with one that is not damaged. Okay, now I can go back to work. And sure enough, my strokes are now appearing in there. If we turn that off, I can see them there. So, we're back to where we were. I'm going to undo that, just so I don't have things I don't want. And the other thing we want to make sure that we're doing, then, is we are going to turn on texture. Yes, it is now on.

And just to test it, sometimes it helps to just temporarily turn this off, and just see. Yep, there, it's showing up. So now, I can go ahead and do this with texture enabled, which I should have done at the start. But I was giving you a little demonstration, and we haven't gotten to talking about texture. Hence, the hiccup of painting those strokes without texture. But, when you get to the intermediate layer, you do want to start thinking about that. So, I'm going to go ahead now, and I'm going to start painting and we will see you when we get to the other side.

One of the things I want to point out here is that I tend to stay working on a very similar kind of aspect of the painting, and I'm varying a little bit out of that. But if you're watching this, you can see that I'm pretty much paying most of my attention to the brickwork. The a reason I do that, there's a certain kind of rhythm that you get into as you're putting these little indications of each of the stones together as you paint.

And I find that if you start doing something very different, like a window, all of a sudden your rhythm is kind of changed and it gets interrupted. So I try to, as much as possible, just keep working on one aspect of the painting. Like after I'm done with all this, perhaps I'll go work on the windows. And then maybe the grounds in the background, and the sky, but each one of those has some probably different kinds of technique involved in the way the brushwork is applied. And I've just found that you get a better result if you kind of stick to doing one type of brush work consistently throughout, and then when you change, you're not trying to necessarily do the same kind of style.

So, just keep in mind that it makes sense to focus on each type of brush stroke, and combined with whatever element it is you're working on. And don't go changing back and forth a whole lot. I think you'll see that you get a better result as you stay focused on just one particular aspect of the painting, rather than jumping all over. On a situation like this, I'm kind of having a make up the brickwork because it's actually covered in the foreground by some branches and weeds.

I'm going to indicate those later on the detail layer, but I still want to have whatever amount of brickwork will be seen behind the detail work that I'm going to add when I get back to that level of detail. So, this is basically kind of made-up brickwork. I know from working with the image kind of what's going on there. So I'm doing my best to just put an indication of brickwork. And then, most of this is going to get hidden by some branches and the weeds that I'm going to draw there later.

So, that's what's going on right here. You may have noticed that I have rotated the screen, and that is part of the Wacom preferences that I will be giving you that enable you to assign rotation to the scroll wheel on the Wacom tablet. And I find it very useful, it's easier, I'm left-handed, but it's just far easier to painting strokes at an angle, rather than trying to do it if the image were to be completely horizontal.

So, take advantage of screen rotation when you can. The other thing, while I'm right here, you'll notice that I am not at this point painting in the trike or the ball. So, one way to not paint it is basically to grab color outside of it, and just paint over it. And if I turn this off, you see it picked up a little color, but not enough to be damaging. So, I'm going to save painting the tricycle and ball for the detail layer.

So I'm not really worried at this point about what happens with it. So, I'm just basically painting it out and then I'll concentrate on it on the detail layer. OK, I'm pretty much done with my intermediate painting here, here we see it. I can see a couple things I'm going to want to fix. Obviously, down there where I was trying to scrub out the tricycle and the ball, I've got some color contamination that I'll have to deal with. But this is what it looks like and it's a very skeletal kind of thing when you look at it separately because what I did, and I don't know if you noticed this, but as I got started, I shut off the underpainting layer because it kind of interferes and if you want to focus exclusively on a particular layer, in this case the intermediate layer, it helps to turn that off.

So, this is what it looks like without it, but watch, when we turn it on, see how much more this is now coming together. It also shows how much more that color contamination has to be dealt with in the foreground. But we'll zoom up here a little bit, and now you're starting to see there's a combination of the solid, non-textural brushstrokes, and overlying them now are the textured brush strokes. So, it just starts to put a degree of interest into the image. The more finer detail there is in an image, the more the human visual system will seek it out and try to evaluate it, and look at it.

So, even at this point, the addition of texture in that intermediate layer starts to add that degree of detail in there that we're going for. And not to mention, now the next step may not be the final layer, but the detail layer is where we're going to start to really delineate things. And I'll probably be using a couple other non-cloning layers as a way to have another layer to apply some of my own brushwork. But you can see now, we're pretty much getting on our way to having this image become a painting.

It's not done yet, it's going to take a little bit more work, but I'm pretty happy with the way it's turning out so far. I did time this, and I think this was slightly under two hours it took me to do that. Now, don't use that as something you need to try to match. I do this so often, I'm pretty fast at it. One of the things I do like to mention, is that as you start to learn how to do this type of work, every time you encounter a problem, you've got to stop. You've got to figure out how to get around it or what technique you can evolve to make it work, and then you continue on.

But the next time that same problem crops up, you don't have to do that, because now you have in your bag of tricks the technique that you used the last time to do that. And what happens is, as you continually do these, and you encounter more and more of these little hiccups in the workflow, you figure out how to get around it, and it becomes another arrow in your quiver of tricks. And so after a while, you develop a pretty big bag of tricks. And once you get really good, it's like your bag of tricks is so full, that there's almost nothing that you encounter that you can't quickly get around, if not just almost automatically fix it.

So, don't be discouraged if it takes you quite a long time to do this, initially. It's going to be practice, and repetition is where you start to encounter all of these little technical issues that you'll slowly absorb and figure out how to correct much quicker. And then once you've got that big bag of tricks, you can go really fast.

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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