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Thread: How do you get pro at environment painting??

  1. #1
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    How do you get pro at environment painting??

    I am feeling kind of lost, as what to work on lately. I mean I am doing a bunch of studies of everything.

    Anyways, my main question is, how do you get really good/pro at painting/drawing environments from your imagination?

    Is it just drawing everything, rocks, mountains, buildings, things, other artists work etc and then it all comes together into your mind creating your imagination?

    I can draw mountains and rocks and landscape type pieces right now from my mind, but where I really get stuck is how do you make up worlds? How do I get the information in my head to create a fantasy scene, or a sci fi scene? Do I just draw/copy other artists sci fi work for a week lets say?

    I understand you need to know the basics, composition, values, shapes, perspective, color theory etc, and I do know much of this, its the imagination stuff I am not to sure of, like to get to a level of a professional who you look at his environment work and he can do anything, and it will blow your mind away!

    I am kind of lost, I would greatly appreciate your help??

    Hopefully someone can help, thank you so much!

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  3. #2
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    The same way you become a pro at everything - practice.

    Draw/paint the stuff from life, and by doing these observational studies, you'll learn how to make them look convincing without actually needing the reference materials.

    "Composition, values, shapes, etc.." - without those basics, good luck doing much anything from your imagination. (assuming you're aiming for realism.)

    And of course, stressing the absolute importance of PRACTICING.
    Doctors heal you, Artists immortalize you.

    "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach" - bullshit.

    The usual staples for anatomy:
    George Bridgman
    Joseph Sheppard
    Andrew Loomis
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  4. #3
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    First off you fill your head with *stuff*. Not the principles of art, even though those are important, but squids and crystals and ancient Egypt and fungi and what people in the 60s thought the future would be like and engine components and *stuff*. Then you try combining that stuff in different ways to try and get ideas out.

    Quote Originally Posted by JustinBeckett
    Do I just draw/copy other artists sci fi work for a week lets say?
    It's useful to know what the other people in your field are doing but if that's ALL you know you're always one step behind those guys. You want people to look at your work and get what they expect but also be surprised.

    Edit: Also ask a lot of questions. Questions like "what's this planet like anyway?" "how's it differ from the last planet I made?" "what would this sort of environment do to the things in it?" "how would this affect how people/aliens act and build in this environment?"
    *** Sketchbook * Landscapes * Portfolio * Store***

    "There are two kinds of students: the self-taught and the hopeless."
    - Dr. Piotr Rudnicki
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  6. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustinBeckett View Post
    I can draw mountains and rocks and landscape type pieces right now from my mind, but where I really get stuck is how do you make up worlds? How do I get the information in my head to create a fantasy scene, or a sci fi scene? Do I just draw/copy other artists sci fi work for a week lets say?
    Start by cultivating your imagination, then you'll have a whole universe in your head to draw from.

    Looking at other art for inspiration can be part of this, but it shouldn't be ALL you absorb, by a long shot. Copying or mimicking other artists, or drawing inspiration only from other artists is pretty likely to result in boring, unoriginal work that looks like everything else out there.

    The best place to start cultivating your imagination is in your own head. Pay attention to your dreams, they can be a gold mine. Do you daydream? If not, maybe you should... That's a great way to exercise your imagination. And read a lot - fiction, nonfiction, everything. And look at/research a lot of non-art subjects. And expose yourself to new and interesting things in real life - go out exploring, go to places you haven't been, keep an eye out for interesting nuggets in the places you have been.

    (Also, I don't know where people get this idea that they have to be able to draw everything straight out of their head... It's totally okay to use reference and do research for specific projects. Most pros do, one way or another.)
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  7. #5
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    Try to look up some great writers, words are just as important as lines. I think reading novels, scripts, poems and just about anything will put the imagination at work.
    Or try writing your own stories. Good concept artists/illustrators are often very good storytellers.
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  9. #6
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In regards to your paintings and how YOU can reach the next level Justin:

Change materials. You paint everything as if its made by the same material.
Change your brushstrokes up. Even in your traditional paintings the marks are very much the same all over.

Contrast: Contrast isn't just about value. You have a very basic "things gets darker the closer they get to me" layout to most of your environments. Lead the eye. Keep it interested. And sell your focal point by using the rest of the painting as advertising space.

Story: Its easy to do those "light to dark" enviros and be happy with it, now if you try thinking in terms of story, things will start happening.

Exaggerate: Play things up, be childish, colorful and have fun with shapes. Do the opposite as well, and you'll see how the same "idea" will end up in very different light. You will be surprised about how different your decision making will be.

Shapes: "Get the shapes right and the painting will almost paint itself" (Craig Mullins, I think)
Story tell through shapes and design. i'm really really new to this but I feel its a major thing that puts the professional apart from "the guy who can paint things okayish".

Things starts to blend together real fast here. As soon as you start varying your brushstrokes, you are also varying your shapes, when you are varying your shapes you are playing with contrast and so on. There are infinite steps in either direction, so take your pick.
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  • #7
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    two pieces of advise that i've seen for something like this

    Watch speed paint vids and look into how you can get the best bang for buck in making something look great with less detail. Speed Paints aren't necesarily HOW YOU LEARN but speed paint artists do quick rendering amazingly.

    But also important is think heavily about film-like perspective, a landscape is best understood by distance between different parts of it, this can be attained by making things less focused and blurry as they get further or by lightening the colours used.

    Aspiring Digital Fantasy Artist
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  • #8
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    Sorry for the late response, been busy!! Thank you so much guys, this helps a lot! Now I will get to work, and try harder! Keep the info coming if anyone else wants to add to the thread!

    DILE: Thanks man, that's really useful information!! Read some posts on your blog as well about motivation, really great post!


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  • #9
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    I would recommend, for both imagination building and practical techniques, a thorough understanding, study and curiosityof architecture (including arch. history and arch. illustration), cultural anthropology, traditional landscape painting, background painting for animation, matte painting and of course what is currently happening in background design for entertainment.

    You should know the names and bios of the current movers and shakers, the important historical names, movements and cultures of at least five to ten of your favorite architects, landscape painters, background/matte painters/designers, historical movements and cultures.

    You should understand the general thread of architectural history in the Western, Eastern, Asian and Mid-East cultures.

    You should read "Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting" at least five times and highlight stuff that strikes you.

    You should go outdoors and paint.

    You should have a thorough understanding of basic geologic, hydraulic and tectonic principles.

    You should travel to interesting geologic parks and formations.

    You should have a big ass library of landscape and travel photography books.

    Every pro I know has all that going on and more.

    Edit: I forgot...environment design is just that, design. It involves scale, light, mood/atmosphere and is the stage upon which the story is told.
    What would Caravaggio do?

    Plein Air
    Still Life
    Sight Measuring
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