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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.
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.
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