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Providing rest areas for the eye

From: Digital Painting: Street Scene

Video: Providing rest areas for the eye

While I have been stressing the importance of using detail to direct the viewer's interest, it is equally important to utilize areas of contrasting non-interest. An image with no rest areas becomes fatiguing to look at, and confuses the viewer's eye as to what is important within the scene. Let's take a look at how to use the contrast of detail and rest areas to emphasize the subject. Before we get started, I'll just show you the difference between the texture that I applied in the last chapter.

Providing rest areas for the eye

While I have been stressing the importance of using detail to direct the viewer's interest, it is equally important to utilize areas of contrasting non-interest. An image with no rest areas becomes fatiguing to look at, and confuses the viewer's eye as to what is important within the scene. Let's take a look at how to use the contrast of detail and rest areas to emphasize the subject. Before we get started, I'll just show you the difference between the texture that I applied in the last chapter.

We'll take a look here at both the texture on and off, so you can see how it affects the image. It's subtle, but it is adding detail to the image and that's what we're all about here, adding more detail. Now, let's talk a bit about rest areas. I've got a couple of big rest areas in this image. One is in the foreground here, in the street. There is far less going on here than there is in the main subject area where the line of cars is sitting.

We've also got a primary rest area here in the back. You can see a good contrast of a rest area with detail in front of it. So these both support each other. The act of this detail being here reinforces the rest area and vice-versa. This rest area makes this detail seem all the more important, because there's not a lot going around it otherwise. Same thing is going on here. In fact, we've got a little bit of a problem here. I told you earlier that I wanted to put this on its own layer and the reason I did that is because I can do a little trick here and I've already turned it on.

I've enabled the Transparency Lock for this layer. Once this is enabled, what this lets me do is paint into only areas that have already existing painting on it. I feel like the trees are too prominent even as they move back. The problem was as I was using pretty much the same color for all the trees and these are retreating in distance and yet they still bear the same importance in the distance as the trees closer in the foreground, and that's just not correct.

These trees need to have less saturation and less dark color associated with them. So by using this Transparency Lock, I can paint into here and literally adjust the colors. So what I've done is I've switched over from the Mixer Brush to the regular Airbrush tool. I also made sure I selected a nice soft airbrush. Just it helps in being able to add a change of color in here, because we're literally going to be airbrushing. I've made it rather large.

The other thing I'm going to do is I'm going to sample the colors in this area. So something like right here. So there is our color and it's pretty dark. So I'm going to go ahead, and lighten it up a bit and let's just do a test and see how it works. I'm just going to go ahead and slam it in there. Okay, it's so light, it makes it invisible, which is not what I want. So I need to darken it up a little bit and let's try it again. That's much better. See how it's light, but you still see it. So I'll start with full pressure here, but then I'll lighten my pressure as I come forward.

You can see what I've done here is now I've added some atmospherics to this so that as it retreats in the distance, they become lighter and that's just a way to accentuate the appearance of depth in this image. So something that I didn't do correctly initially, by leaving it on a separate layer, and I kind of knew in advance I might want to adjust this, I'm able to take advantage of this layer's Transparency Lock to then paint into it as if it were masked, which essentially it is, and I can alter the color within it.

So it's just a little trick to visually portray depth in this particular area. One of the concepts I use to think about what is important in a scene is what I call the "actors on a stage" concept. If you've ever been to a Broadway play or even a high school play, you'll see that at the beginning of a play, the stage is all lit up. You see the scenery, the props, the actors, everybody is on there, because they're introducing the environment that this play is going to be in.

But once the play starts, the focus becomes centered on the actors and through the use of spotlights, they'll often have lighting that is only lighting up the actors and the rest of the stage is darkened down to where you don't even see it. They're doing exactly what we've been talking about. They are restricting your focus so that you're only going to pay attention to the actors. You already have a sense of them being in that environment. If it mysteriously disappears, you're not even going to notice it, because you're so focused on those actors that the fact that the scenery has somewhat disappeared doesn't bother you, because the focus is on the actors.

If the stage stayed lit up through the whole play, you'd find yourself wandering around looking at different elements of the scenery and the props and you'd be distracted from the actors at times. So the way lighting is used in the theater is a very good analogue of what we want to do here. We want to focus on the actors and so using that concept, I will look at a scene like this and I ask myself, who are the actors? What's the stage? And in this case, right now, until we had people, the actors on this stage are definitely the cars and the traffic and to a degree the trees.

The stage itself is this foreground, the street, and the buildings in the background. They provide a sense of place, but they are not the actors on the stage. So, by asking yourself that question, who are the actors, you can ensure that you are paying attention to the proper elements within an image. If you find yourself fussing too much over how this looks like a watery street, you have to ask yourself, is this the actor or the stage? If it's the stage, you're spending too much time on it.

So that's one way you can evaluate a scene and decide where should I be spending my focus? Where am I going to be spending my time with my brush? You want to spend it on the actors. So what have we learned here? A well composed photograph will naturally have some rest areas, but you can always make artistic decisions during the translation process to increase the visual contrast between the actors and the stage. I make it a practice to regularly check myself when fussing over an area of a painting by asking the question, is this an actor or the stage? If it is the stage, stop spending time on it.

Show transcript

This video is part of

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

45 video lessons · 15151 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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