Where do I start?
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Thread: Where do I start?

  1. #1
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    Where do I start?

    Hi all. This is my first posting on this site, so be nice.
    I am a fairly decent traditional artist. Until a few months ago, I have been of the opinion that computers are scary devil machines that want to hurt me. Recently, I have decided to catch up with the rest of the art world and learn to use the scary devil machines and perhaps someday become their overlord.
    I have photoshop and painter. I also have a wacom tablet. This means nothing, however, because when I attempt to use them I lose all of the artistic ability that I possess and make pictures that a 4 year old would scoff at. I don't know where to begin, what to work on first, how to start learning the programs, or getting used to a tablet. I know where I want to end up (visual development), but I can't seem to find the starting point.
    I'm looking for any insight, words of wisdom, witty antecdotes, tutorial recommendations, classes, etc that will help me out.
    Thanks for helping!

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  2. #2
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    I think the two things that most people have a hard time with when transitioning from traditional to digital are; getting used to looking at the monitor not where your hand is, and the overwhelming options you now have at your disposal.

    For the first problem all all can say is that the more you draw on it the faster you'll get used to it. I don't even notice it anymore, and even prefer it because my hand does not obscure my drawing. I have not drawn anything on paper in around 10 years now. I now even have an android tablet for on the go sketching, although since I'm drawing directly on the screen I find that my hand gets in the way.

    For the second problem, I would figure out what your workflow is. For example, I like to to a value sketch first and decide what's light and whats dark and the approximate shape and size of the elements in the picture. I do a lot of lightening, darkening, and re-sizing at this stage. So after trying dozens of painting software I eliminated the ones that did not have the tools that I needed. Some programs my be good for painting but do not have the transform(re-sizing tool) that I need. One thing some people do is use a different program for the different stages of a painting. As a beginner I wouldn't recommend that because it will take you twice as long to learn each program.
    The next thing is to find just a couple of brushes and focus on using them. A lot of beginners tend to want effects brushes for everything. What brush do I use, is the most common question I get asked. For me the answer is almost always the same, "a standard round brush for a majority of the painting", and you will find that many of the professionals out their will give you the same answer.

    As far as the programs that you mentioned, I used to use Corel Painter but have now switched over to Photoshop. Painter will be an easier transition because it mimics traditional painting better than any other program. The only reason I switched is I found it to be too unstable and full of bugs and issues. I've lost countless hours of work because of crashes.
    Photoshop however is much more stable, and is basically the industry standard. Eventually you'll probably have to learn the basics of Photoshop even if you use Painter as your primary program. The brushes in Photoshop work much differently than in Painter and will take some time to get used to. Blending is something that a lot of people seem to have a problem with.

    Since you already have a background in traditional painting you already have an advantage. A lot beginners want to jump into digital painting without knowing the fundamentals(composition, color, perspective, anatomy, form, and storytelling) and think that the program with do most of the work for them. They don't realize that the program is nothing more that tool like a brush, that just accomplishes tasks faster not better. Basically if you produced crappy traditional paintings you produce crappy digital paintings just quicker.
    The two main reasons that I switched to digital is that changes and corrections can be made on the fly, and because of this I have more time to experiment.
    This on the fly corrections can be a double edge sword. One of the things that you have to be conscious of, is what I have come to know as "happy mistakes",or an accidental strokes that just makes the painting work. Because of the ease of which you can correct errors or undo you may try to correct these "happy accidents" before you realize their importance. So pieces might look over worked.

    Here is a list of programs I have tried. Some are free, others have free demos. Out of those I have found Painter and Photoshop to be the best of the bunch, and also the most expensive. But it really depends on your workflow. I could replicate any of my illustrations with the software below it would just take me longer. If you really wanted to emulate a particular traditional medium(oil, charcoal, watercolor, acrylic) I would suggest Painter. It has the most comprehensive brush engine.

    Paint tool SAI, Twisted Brush, Project Dogwaffle, ArtRage, Pixia, MyPaint, Paint.net, Gimp, Corel Painter, Adobe Photoshop, Autodesk Sketchbook Pro

    Here's a link to my DeviantArt Gallery if your interested to see my work http://r-tan.deviantart.com/gallery/

    Good luck, and welcome to the dark side.

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  4. #3
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    Thanks so much for the advice!

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