Painting both Digitally and in Oils
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    Painting both Digitally and in Oils

    Although a complete novice in both I would one day like to be able to paint in both Oil and Digitally to a professional standard. I was just wondering how many people out there are adept in both and how they balanced learning both techniques.

    It seems from reading on the net that people suggest learning traditional techniques first before moving onto digital painting. Although as I said I have little to no experience in both I can see the advantages to both. However it seems most of the professionals in the market lean towards the digital side of things so was wondering if it makes more sense to spend most of my time learning to paint digitally, as this is what most professional work is completed in or clients expect?

    On the other hand its seems that there is a lot to be learned by painting in oils that will benefit and translate to digital painting and I do like the idea of being left with a physical painting. So basically the long and the short of it is can you learn both oil and digital painting simultaneously or is there a more logical beneficial way to learn?

    I am sure in the end it will come down to just paint, as with drawing its the act of doing that really counts (taken me a while to figure that one lol) but just thought i would throw it out there. Would be really interesting to hear from people who are highly skilled in both and hear how they balance both.

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    I just use whichever media is more convenient for whatever I'm trying to do... I love oils, but sometimes digital is more practical, or suits the image better.

    I'll say this, if you start by learning a traditional painting medium first, and get fairly good at it, then learning to adapt those skills to digital media will be a no-brainer. Whereas if you start with digital and then try to learn traditional, the learning curve tends to be steeper. Traditional involves a whole lot of physical factors that don't really come up in digital, and also has none of the shortcuts available in digital, so it can take more time to get really adept with traditional. But if you take the time to do so, you'll be ahead of the game when you approach digital art.

    At least, that's been my experience. I started with traditional, and most of it translates to digital pretty easily.

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    dpaint is offline Registered User Level 16 Gladiator: Spartacus' Retiarii
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    Yeah What QG says.

    Learning traditionally means actually learning to make decisions about a piece before you start it; to mix color and value and chroma not pick it from a swatch or adjust the whole painting lighter or darker. If you start by learning those things digitally, they cripple you.
    Just that is a huge advantage over digital learning. You also have to learn to control your instrument its pressure its speed there is no interference between you and your medium. Digital there is always an algorithm simulating pressure and control. That's why artists who start with digital can't draw and paint traditionally very well. Studies show that people who learn while engaging all of your senses have a better understanding of the thing they are learning. And the best part is you have something real that you can hold to show for your efforts; you can sell the originals for ten times or more than what a digital print gets even starting out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    Yeah What QG says.

    Learning traditionally means actually learning to make decisions about a piece before you start it; to mix color and value and chroma not pick it from a swatch or adjust the whole painting lighter or darker. If you start by learning those things digitally, they cripple you.
    Just that is a huge advantage over digital learning. You also have to learn to control your instrument its pressure its speed there is no interference between you and your medium. Digital there is always an algorithm simulating pressure and control. That's why artists who start with digital can't draw and paint traditionally very well. Studies show that people who learn while engaging all of your senses have a better understanding of the thing they are learning. And the best part is you have something real that you can hold to show for your efforts; you can sell the originals for ten times or more than what a digital print gets even starting out.
    Thanks for this. The most concise and complete iteration of this point I've read online.

    "Three's so little room for error."--Elwell
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    Hey guys thanks for the responses, you kind of confirmed what I felt deep down. I must admit I do love the look of digital work but that feeling you get when you stand in front of a painted canvas and can see the artist handy work is awesome. I was also thinking about what you said dpiant about being forced to learn to mix my own colours and learn how to physically manipulate paint will be invaluable lessons. So I am glad my thinking is on the right track for once. Plus like you say at the end of the day you have something that you can hold and potentially sell for a decent price.

    I guess one of the things thats always put me off oil painting is that is seems so expensive in terms of how much paint you can potentially go through and how the costs might add up. In terms of professional work, since painting digitally seems a lot quicker then oil painting do you think working traditionally can hold you back in terms of how many jobs you can take on working in the Fantasy/Gaming markets thats why I wondered weather Digital painting made more sense.

    Plan to do a basic introduction course to painting course soon when i get some more money together. in the mean time is there any really good Oil painting books that you can recommend to give a good grasp of the basics or you think its best to just dive in and learn from your mistakes ect.

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    people talk about cost but I don't see it. My computer with monitors, tablet and software cost me tens of thousands of dollars. Unless you are pirating software it isn't cheaper than painting traditionally by any means. For a thousand dollars of materials I can paint 50 paintings a year for a few years. When you start out use lower grade paints and canvases and buy in bulk to get the best price and free shipping. Blick has cheap canvas and utrecht has cheap paint. You can quickly offset costs doing paintings for friends and relatives and locals. Something digital can't really do; its not the same giving someone a inkjet print.
    Some books
    Oil Painting techniques and materials Harold Speed
    Oil painting for the serioous beginner Steve Allrich

    Last edited by dpaint; September 29th, 2012 at 10:22 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ja1307 View Post
    I guess one of the things thats always put me off oil painting is that is seems so expensive in terms of how much paint you can potentially go through and how the costs might add up.
    As long as you're not trowelling it onto your surface with a painting knife, even a small tube of artist grade oil paint goes further than you might think.

    Buy the big tube of white though, you're going to tear through that faster than all the other colours combined. Seriously, the big tube.

    Oil painting certainly can be expensive but as you're starting out it doesn't have to be.
    Things you absolutely must have..
    -Paint (get artists grade, it's only two quid difference so just trust me on this one.)
    -Brushes (To start with, anything will do, if you need a slight upgrade Jacksons Art will sort you out, see below)
    -Things to smear paint on (primed mountboard is cheap, light, easy to store, canvas pads are cheap, you can prime heavy duty paper, if you're handy with a saw, making your own wood panels is pretty straightforward. Take your pick. No need to be learning on finest linen.)
    -Primer (lets you prime things so that you can then smear oil paint on them)
    -Thinners / OMS / Turps. You don't need them , but most good paint comes out of the tube a tad thick so you probably want some.

    Other than those, it's all optional extras. Yes, that motorised hardwood studio easel would be lovely but unstretched canvas taped to a board will work too.
    You could buy a full rainbow palette of every expensive pigment available, or you could just paint in monochrome for a while, or adopt a limited palette approach, like this guy..
    http://conceptart.org/forums/showthr...9&daysprune=-1
    You could pay 30 quid for that stainless steel brush washer or you can knock something up out of a jam jar and a bit of wire mesh, peanut butter container, whatever.
    http://gurneyjourney.blogspot.co.uk/...sh-washer.html

    Point is, lots of the oil painting "essentials" can be kinda McGuyvered for almost no cost.



    *If you do decide to grab some oil painting stuff I'd suggest Jacksons Art. I've been using them for the last year, they have a good selection of stuff that's almost certainly cheaper than your local art shop.
    The Jacksons "Studio Hog" brushes are affordable and decent quality, get some of those.
    http://www.jacksonsart.com/
    Ignore the 50 quid brushes made from the hair of squirrels, angels and the baby Jesus, you don't need them.

    Note: still not affiliated with Jacksons in any way, I just like them. They're reasonably priced and dependable.





    is there any really good Oil painting books that you can recommend to give a good grasp of the basics or you think its best to just dive in and learn from your mistakes ect.
    I like Harold Speed "Oil Painting, Techniques and Materials" and Gregg Kreutz "Problem Solving for Oil Painters" but if you're totally new I'd say just get stuck in, make some mistakes and learn from them.


    /2p worth..

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    Gonna back Flake on choosing artist grade paint over student grade paint.... no need to get Old Holland or anything, but something midrange will be alright. Some colors are worse than others. One time, one of my classmates bought student grade titanium white and it came out yellow because of all the crap mixed in with it, lower quality binder, etc etc. A single tube of paint lasts a long time, might as well spend the extra few dollars and get something you can rely on a little more.

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    Hey dpaint thanks again for the useful post. I am pleasantly surprised that a $1000 of materials stretches so far, I always imagined that people must go through tubes and tubes of paint. Thanks for the heads up with the books too will def look into those.

    Flake, thanks for the heads up I guess you must also be based in the UK. Checked out Jacksons and they seem to have some very decent prices. I just bough a set of oils from Cass Art and some oil painting paper but shall def use Jackson's in the future I think. Their brushes alone are amazingly priced. Glad you stopped me going out there and dropping 50 on a brush as I thought thats how much people were spending.

    Thanks for the materials break down as well. By the way what does OMS stand for. What about Linseed oil I read people mix it with turps for glazing you think at my stage this is something I wont need?

    Anyway time to get my head down so hopefully will have some painting comedies to post soon.

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    (Dammit, I wrote a whole long post and CA went down in the middle of it... Oh well...)

    OMS stands for Odorless Mineral Spirits. There are also all kinds of odorless thinners based on citrus and whatnot. Most of those are not good for mixing with paint, though, as they're too strong - they're primarily for cleanup. For mixing with paint, you'd want real turpentine (gum turpentine is what my teachers had us get,) or Gamsol, or linseed oil, or some other oil like walnut oil.

    Linseed oil is a pretty standard medium, it can be handy. Personally I use straight linseed oil to thin paint, I don't bother with turpentine at all except for cleaning brushes. And if you get a jar of linseed oil, it will last for quite a while, it's not like you'll be using it by the gallon.

    Actually, if you're going to be doing a lot of throwaway practice paintings, you can even use the cheap linseed oil from the hardware store (as long as it's raw linseed oil with no additives.) I did that for a while as a student. Just don't use it for any paintings you plan to keep, god knows what that junk does over time...

    You certainly don't need a 50 brush, you're probably fine starting with an assortment of bristle brushes, and those tend to be cheaper than, say, pure sable or something. Also, brushes can last for years if you take care of them, so you won't need to buy new brushes all that often. Don't leave 'em in turpentine for too long, and wash them when you're done to remove not only the paint but traces of whatever paint thinner or other stuff you've dunked them in. You can clean them with warm water and soap. Some people use vegetable oil, I think. I like to use shampoo.

    Oh - another tip for making the most out of your materials... If you have a lot of oil paint on your palette and you want to be able to use it later, stick the palette in the fridge. The paint keeps forever that way. Just keep the food out of the paint. And the paint out of the food. (I've had some near accidents involving food and paint...)

    FYI you don't need a fancy expensive palette, either. Any flat piece of white plastic or glass will do. I use white plastic plates. Some people use sheets of freezer wrap. If you're creative, oil painting is really quite affordable.

    Last edited by QueenGwenevere; September 30th, 2012 at 03:25 PM.
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    QG what kind of shampoo do you use to clean your brushes I read that ypu should only use natural soaps so I thought something like shampoo would be too chemical based/

    I bought a white plastic tray to use as a palette. For storing left over paint I was wondering weather just simply covering the left over in cling film would be good enough to keep it fresh for a few days?

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    Some pigments will stay wet on your palette for days or even weeks, some will skin over within a day or two, and others will get gradually thicker. Generally, I think worrying about saving unused paint is a false economy. With experience, one gets a feel for how much of different colors it's safe to put out at once. However, if you do a lot of pre-mixing, like I do, sometimes you really do need to save your palette. I've tried all of the following:

    Covering with Saran Wrap (used to work much better, before they reformulated a few years ago), or other heavy duty plastic wrap.
    Putting it in the freezer (cover as above first).
    Submerging under water (if you're using a glass palette).

    All of the above will preserve paint for a few days (depending on the pigment), but not indefinitely. Paint that's frozen or stored underwater tends to gradually thicken rather than skinning over, but will still become unworkable eventually. With quick drying colors (umbers etc) it's often easier just to let them skin over and then break the skin with a knife and scoop out.


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    For some reason my cadmium yellow is staying wet on the palette for a freakishly long time... Like, months. Everything else at least gets a little thick after a while, but that yellow does... not... change. I swear it's undead. THE PAINT THAT WOULD NOT DRY.

    (Must have been an especially oily batch or something, I don't know.)

    Quote Originally Posted by ja1307 View Post
    QG what kind of shampoo do you use to clean your brushes I read that ypu should only use natural soaps so I thought something like shampoo would be too chemical based/
    Pff, I just use whatever I've got, which is whatever was on sale the last time I bought shampoo... If it's good enough for my hair, it's good enough for my brushes (then again I don't have fancy $50 brushes.) Though so far the Pantene Pro-V seems to work best out of the brands I've tried.

    Granted some flavor of all-natural shampoo is probably better for both hair and brushes, though. I was going to look for some the next time I'm buying shampoo.

    Last edited by QueenGwenevere; October 1st, 2012 at 01:09 PM.
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    Cheers all seems like there are lots of different approaches to everything I guess time will tell which one works best for me i guess.

    Elwell, really like your work by the way. Out of interest how long would it take you to paint a typical full size illustration. How long do you think it would take a complete novice to become a competent painter or even get to the level you are at, I know there is no fixed time scales in learning and I know it will be a long journey but its always good to have realistic expectations as it can all seem slow and frustrating at times.

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