Tree Studies - Any Advice?
Wow, scary place to arrive at! There's so much great art on this forum!
I'm starting to take artwork really seriously. It's been a raw talent of mine for a long time but all my recent time was poured into my university course, leaving next to no time spare for artwork. I'm now looking to follow a childhood dream of game design to the ends of the earth, and intend to break in to the Indie Game Development scene by creating a game with hand-painted environments for a strong visual flair.
I spent the better part of the day working on this study of a few different trees (left to right: Silver Birch, Oak, and Willow), since painting trees is one of my main stumbling blocks. I can never seem to get a real feeling of depth, and I'm not too sure how to paint bark effectively.
It's also worth mentioning that photo-realism and immense levels of detail is not what I'm aiming for. Since I will be hand-painting a lot of screens for this game, I need to develop a style for painting trees that provides fast production time with attractive and believable visuals.
Any critique and advice would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks for reading!
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Well these are rather lovely, the Birch is my favorite! I'm personally not a huge fan of large areas of special effects brushes to replace traditional painting techniques, maybe just a few for highlight detail? Try looking up some professional sketches of trees, especially bare trees – they are basically just a bunch of tube shapes modified. The trunk is a tube, and the branches on the side facing you will be foreshortened, while those on the other side will be overlapped by the trunk and foreshortened to show that they are receding into the distance. Right now, especially on the oak, it looks like they are all just coming out of the sides – and some of the branches that are covered with leaves higher up look pretty flat and oddly shaped – even through the leaves. But this is a beautiful color study for something you find personally difficult!
Please tell me you didn't paint all those leaver one by one!!
Read in a book somewhere that you should think of painting trees as painting a mass of shapes. Treat the leaves as groups of shapes in stead of painting them one by one--or giving the appearance of them being painted one by one.
Thanks for the advice and compliments! You're right about the oak branches, and it should have been obvious really. That must be one of the main reasons my trees lack a sense of depth. The other is light and shading, and how that affects colours, which is something I plan on studying tomorrow. Not just for bark, but going right to the basics of colour theory. I'm sure that will do wonders for me.
Originally Posted by Saramel
I'm not sure why the branches look oddly shaped other than that though. I wonder if it's because the leaves obscure the branch structure too much, which I did make an effort to work with as a base from references (see attached image, sans shadow overlays since they included leaves for the most part). The lack of branches coming towards the viewers PoV is still an obvious problem, but maybe I'm using too many leaves, or using them incorrectly... It may also be due to the the lack of detailing on the branches. I left them fairly bare since the leaves were going to cover them, but it might be hampering the branches showing through... I think I'll take your advice and try painting leaves without special brushes and see if that improves things while still being quick enough to produce.
Haha, no I didn't paint them individually. I created my own brushes and used a scattering option, as well as colour variations. Saved a lot of time and allowed me to use the real leaf shapes of the tree species (something I might not be able to do as effectively without custom brushes like this). But... I still think they look odd. Can't quite put my finger on it, but I'm sure the leaves are part of the reason.
Originally Posted by Cocoa_Cool
As to your advice about painting the leaves in groups - I remember my old art teacher giving me similar advice for painting brick walls. Don't paint every single brick, but paint clusters in the right places and the human eye will naturally fill in the rest. I'll try it out, and hopefully the trees will look less... cluttered?
Thanks for your time!
You're a lot better than I am when it comes to trees. I can't even render them correctly, let alone paint them. I would say you need to have a wider range of values in the picture to give them depth. You need to put some darker values in the indicate debt.
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