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Understanding simplified indication


Digital Painting: Architecture

with John Derry

Video: Understanding simplified indication

Simplified ndication is my term for representing visual elements with a minimum of detail. I refer to this as my connect-the-dots theory of engaging the viewer. Our brain delights in filling in detail to create meaning. A painter, for example, does not typically paint every leaf on a representation of a tree. Rather, he creates an under painting of light and dark areas to model the volume of the tree, then applies a few well-placed brush strokes to fool the eye into seeing greater detail.
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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

Understanding simplified indication

Simplified ndication is my term for representing visual elements with a minimum of detail. I refer to this as my connect-the-dots theory of engaging the viewer. Our brain delights in filling in detail to create meaning. A painter, for example, does not typically paint every leaf on a representation of a tree. Rather, he creates an under painting of light and dark areas to model the volume of the tree, then applies a few well-placed brush strokes to fool the eye into seeing greater detail.

The viewer then connects the dots and reads the imagery as a tree with leaves. Simplified indication is yet another element of the vocabulary of painting. Let's take a look at it. So we've finished our underpainting, and hopefully you worked on it zoomed out like I've got here, you don't want to be close up. But going forward, we are now going to start to get closer and closer to the painting as we work. And if this was a real painting, it would be something like 30 or 40 inches at least.

So its a fairly large painting. And just like a real painting, you're going to want to get up close to it as you start to work on the detail. And if you've ever watched an artist in a studio, they will very often step back, get an overview of the painting where it is, decide what they're going to do, and then they will go forward, get up close to the painting, work on an area, then they'll once again go back, see how that fits in to the overview of the image, and they'll do this little dance back and forth from the canvas.

So they're close up, then they go back, they're close up. Presumably, you'll be doing a lot of that too, and it's a good practice. Because you want to see all the detail you're instilling into the image. But you also want to be cognizant of, how does this look as the total representation. So, as I'm working, I find myself constantly zooming in, and zooming out. And it's just a good practice to do that. So let's go ahead and turn our Reference back on, and do just as I said here. I'm going to start to zoom in a bit 'cause we're talking about indication.

And, one of the tricks of my simplified indication theory is that you want to apply it with the minimum of strokes. Remember, we're still not to the detail layer. And you just want to put enough information there to start to fill in the blanks for the user. In the underpainting, we merely blocked out this building, for example. But now, our next job is to start to indicate, what is that building made of? And it's obviously made of this stonework, and so we need to cognizant of the fact that we are going to start to somehow indicate that this building is actually composed of stone. And I might even go in a little bit closer here.

So, we want to first of all make sure that we're now going to be on the Intermediate Layer, remember we worked on the underpainting layer before. Now we are going to be on the Intermediate Layer. So make sure that you are in the Intermediate Layer before you start painting. And here is my brush stroke that I was using earlier, really big brush. I want to make it smaller, and I'm using my left and right bracket keys to be able to control getting smaller with the left bracket or getting larger with the right bracket. So I'm going to make this, you know, I'm looking at these bricks, and I want the brush to be no wider than those bricks, and maybe even a little bit less.

And what I can do now, is go in and start to delineate these bricks, and when you watch me, you're going to probably, first comment you'll make to yourself is, he's going to do that to every brick in the building? Yes, I am, that's what painting's about. It's not going to happen in an instant. This is going to take awhile. In fact, when we're done with this painting, I'll try to give you a pretty accurate estimate of how long it actually took me to paint this. So you'll get at least a sense of scale of OK, a painting with that much detail at that scale takes x amount of hours, roughly. Now keep in mind too, the more experienced someone is, they're going to be able to do it quicker, and as a first timer, you may find it takes you two, three times that to get to it, but we'll keep track of the time and let you know roughly how long it took as we go through this.

So, I'm going to just start here and I'm going to put a little slice there and there, and one of the things I want to do is check to see, you know, what does that look like? See what it did there? Not a lot, but it's going to start to build up our image, and I can see maybe I need to make my brush a little bit larger. So, I will make a few beginning strokes, just to see what I'm getting here. I still want that to be a little larger, so I'm going to go up. One of the things about this, it's a rounded brush, you can see here as a tip it, and what happens is, even though that brush may look wider than the individual bricks are, what happens is some of the outer edges of that brush is not actually contacting, it depends all on how hard I'm pressing and all of that.

But I can see that I may need to adjust my brush size so that I'm getting a stroke roughly equivalent to the width of these courses of stone work. So, I'm just going to try a few more here. Yeah, let's see how that looks, that's looking better. So, you can see how it's picking up. This is the result of having put that texture, that finer texture that we did, and then use the Oil Paint filter on. What happens is, when the brush picks that up, and especially now with this smaller scale, it's starting to get a loaded style brush, and one of the things that is, a loaded brush technique is often used for is, instead of it just being flat color, it's actually got this range of colors in it. And that is a trick to produce more detail in that stroke than it would be if it were simply a flat stroke. Hopefully, after this title, you'll start looking at paintings in a bit more detail, and you'll see how loaded brushstrokes are a way to portray much greater detail than you really are adding, and it all has to do with the fact the brush stroke is painting with multiple colors.

And unfortunately for us, the way this all works, is it actually does emulate a loaded brush stroke as you paint. So let's turn this back on, and I'll just start doing a bit here so you can kind of get the idea. Now you can see these are individual bricks, and there is a gap between them. When I get to my detail layer, I'm going to be addressing those little cracks, but right now I'm just wanting to more or less address the mass of the brick, and not necessarily that outline. And I'm also going to turn down my brush because the bricks do get a bit smaller here.

And I am not overly concerned about exactly filling in the shape of that brush. Remember, we're indicating, we're not trying to exactly detail the rusticated uneven surface of these stones. We're simply indicating that there are individual blocks here and, I continue to turn this on and off to see where I have it. I'm taking advantage of the optional actions here so that I'm actually using my F14 and F15 keys to be able to quickly turn off and on the Reference Layer, and it really helps.

Because otherwise I would have to be going over here and constantly turning it on and off. And I'm going to mainly just pay attention to the bricks themselves. There are other kinds of things going on. But the first goal in this is going to be to go around and do this. And you look at this now, and it doesn't look like much. But that's another thing I'll warn you about if you haven't done a lot of paint work in the past. There are points in a painting where it absolutely does not look good or finished or whatever you want to call it.

For that reason, lot of people do not like other people coming into the studio and looking over their shoulder at some very tender moment like here, 'cause its very easy to look at this and say, that doesn't look like bricks. I don't understand what you're doing. You have to ignore that and just persevere forward, and its going to be the aggregation of all of this together that's going to work. At this small scale, closeup, no, it doesn't look great at his point. But that's what you drive forward to, to continue to improve this through the additional layers.

So in the detail layer, certainly we'll be doing more to even delineate this a bit more strongly than it looks now. But, don't be fooled by indication looking somewhat unfinished at this point. Just persevere, keep going forward, trust me and yourself, and you'll get it done. Now the last thing I do want to say is that simplified indication can sometimes fall into the category of I-know-good-simplified-indication-when-I-see- it-but-I-can't-describe-it-to-you category. One definition may have to do with the minimum size of the brush strokes used.

Remember that the finest strokes are going to be reserved for the actual detail work later on.

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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