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Thread: How do you learn to paint digitally?

  1. #1
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    How do you learn to paint digitally?

    Hello People of Conceptart. I am the newbie that loves to ask questions

    I am still practicing the anatomy stuff I told you I was going to (currently working on head angles and improving a lot with loomis ball method). But I am aslo trying to learn how to paint with a tablet . I mostly want to learn to paint realistic humans with a tablet on a digital medium. My goal is to one day paint something like this:http://mythicsonofgod.deviantart.com...51341754&qo=93

    Practice is the key of course.

    However I am aconfused on the"when,how and what to practice part". Because I don't know how to start or the steps to follow (I don't want to try run before learning to crawl as a baby lol, as I always do).For instance I tried to paint skin with my limited knowledge on blending (cartoony character)http://mythicsonofgod.deviantart.com...csonofgod&qo=0, but I think it's obvious for me that I lack some previous knowledge I should have had mastered before attempting this one(don't know wich knowledge however).There is so much information on the net about digital painting I don't even know where to start! or when I should have previous knowledge before trying something new.

    I would like to start from the very basics before going for complex stuff. I heard that the best way is learn to shade basic shapes on black and white and then learn color theory and apply it, what do you think?.

    I would appreciate a lot if you could guide me a bit on what to practice and the steps (the order I would have to learn stuff) I should follow inorder to learn how to digitally paint.


    note the only traditional medium I have acces right now is watercolors :/ (Altough I would take a tablet over them any day).But if you guys think traditional mediums are essential, I would give them a shot again .

    Thank you and best regards!
    Last edited by FallenLegend; April 22nd, 2013 at 03:10 AM.
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  3. #2
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    Grab a mug, put it under a light, and paint it. Repeat with other objects and people.

    You spend far too much time worrying about the "right way" or "best way" to practice. Dive in, get your hands filthy and make mistakes.
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    Forget painting. Learn to draw to a certain level of accuracy first. Let your goal be 500 drawings/sketches of inanimate compositions; everyday objects, still lifes, buildings, cars, etc... anything in front of your eyes that won't move long enough to finish a sketch. Use strictly pencil or pen on paper.
    That's "what and how". "When" is whenever you have time.

    Btw, the painting you mentioned as your goal is not too good. If you need to have role models, look for them amongst master artists, not mediocre ones. If you feel you have trouble discerning between two, consider attending an introductory class on western art history.
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    You learn to paint digitally by learning to draw in pencil, first. Then painting with real paint. Then you'll be able can do it digitally too.

    Beginning right away with digital tools is more frustrating than useful. So learn to construct a simple form first, and start studying lighting in pencil. Still life is considered best for it, since it cannot run away.

    BTW, if you think that sample you've linked is a really good painting, you have to develop a better eye for good painting. It's rather pedestrian, and certainly not very painterly. You should strive to learn to paint much better than that, not like that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by OfficialLamp View Post
    Grab a mug, put it under a light, and paint it. Repeat with other objects and people.

    You spend far too much time worrying about the "right way" or "best way" to practice. Dive in, get your hands filthy and make mistakes.
    Thank you, I will!. I guess I figured you had to learn numbers before doing equations . But art is totally differnet from what I have attempted before... and I love it!

    Quote Originally Posted by LaCan View Post
    Forget painting. Learn to draw to a certain level of accuracy first. Let your goal be 500 drawings/sketches of inanimate compositions; everyday objects, still lifes, buildings, cars, etc... anything in front of your eyes that won't move long enough to finish a sketch. Use strictly pencil or pen on paper.
    That's "what and how". "When" is whenever you have time.

    Btw, the painting you mentioned as your goal is not too good. If you need to have role models, look for them amongst master artists, not mediocre ones. If you feel you have trouble discerning between two, consider attending an introductory class on western art history.
    Aim higher, learn to master the pencil first...I got it. I will work on that thank you!
    Quote Originally Posted by arenhaus View Post
    You learn to paint digitally by learning to draw in pencil, first. Then painting with real paint. Then you'll be able can do it digitally too.

    Beginning right away with digital tools is more frustrating than useful. So learn to construct a simple form first, and start studying lighting in pencil. Still life is considered best for it, since it cannot run away.

    BTW, if you think that sample you've linked is a really good painting, you have to develop a better eye for good painting. It's rather pedestrian, and certainly not very painterly. You should strive to learn to paint much better than that, not like that.
    Still like the best way to study values. I guess my standards were to low for you guys, I will work on that and show you the results . Just a question are watercolors fine for this kind of work?

    Thank you for your help.
    Last edited by FallenLegend; April 22nd, 2013 at 01:54 PM.
    Check out my NEW NEW NEW SKETCH BOOK and my Constantly updated deviant art too! (Don't forget to critique both! I am very eager to learn)

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    Quote Originally Posted by arenhaus View Post
    You learn to paint digitally by learning to draw in pencil, first. Then painting with real paint. Then you'll be able can do it digitally too.

    Beginning right away with digital tools is more frustrating than useful. So learn to construct a simple form first, and start studying lighting in pencil. Still life is considered best for it, since it cannot run away.

    BTW, if you think that sample you've linked is a really good painting, you have to develop a better eye for good painting. It's rather pedestrian, and certainly not very painterly. You should strive to learn to paint much better than that, not like that.
    Why is drawing still lifes important? What does it train?

    PS Genuine question.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Webster View Post
    Why is drawing still lifes important? What does it train?

    PS Genuine question.
    Setting up a still life trains your understanding of composition, drawing a still life trains your muscle memory, eye-hand coordination, correct pencil grip, measuring of angles, distances, proportions, use of construction lines, construction in space, line quality, attention span, to name but a few, without entangling you in the intricacies of the human form, the distractions of a boobsy chick, or a model that keeps moving.

    PS Genuine answer.
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    Quote Originally Posted by arenhaus View Post
    Then painting with real paint. Then you'll be able can do it digitally too.
    Certainly beneficial for the learning process, but not by any means necessary. I'd been painting digital-only for over 6 years, 3 of them professionally, when I first tried traditional, just to have fun and broaden my horizon. Traditional painting is excessively expensive compared to digital, at least if you paint in oils, and frankly I don't see an alternative except perhaps Gouache, but high grade Gouache is as expensive as oils. Fundamentals transfer from digital to traditional the same way they do vice-versa, the problem with learning digital first is all the shortcuts and cheats you just don't have in traditional. But if you avoid copy&pasting, undo, tracing, pixel-copying photos etc., you should be fine.

    I'm talking about painting here, just to emphasize that. Learning to draw on a tablet is a bad idea.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Benedikt View Post
    Traditional painting is excessively expensive compared to digital, at least if you paint in oils, and frankly I don't see an alternative except perhaps Gouache, but high grade Gouache is as expensive as oils.
    Really. You are not counting $1500+ for a powerful workstation, $500+ for a tablet, $400+ for a suitable monitor and several hundred for software (in case of Photoshop, several hundred per year) as less expensive than three/five tubes of oil paint, a couple bottles of medium, three brushes and some small canvases?

    You can use acrylics instead of oils; they are cheaper but trickier to handle. You can train in watercolor; teaches planning ahead very well. But even oils are not that expensive, comparatively.

    Fundamentals transfer from digital to traditional the same way they do vice-versa, the problem with learning digital first is all the shortcuts and cheats you just don't have in traditional. But if you avoid copy&pasting, undo, tracing, pixel-copying photos etc., you should be fine.
    In short, you are offering a beginner to shun three quarters of available digital features. How is the beginner going to know which features to avoid?
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    Quote Originally Posted by arenhaus View Post
    Really. You are not counting $1500+ for a powerful workstation, $500+ for a tablet, $400+ for a suitable monitor and several hundred for software (in case of Photoshop, several hundred per year) as less expensive than three/five tubes of oil paint, a couple bottles of medium, three brushes and some small canvases?
    Yeah, since most young people- especially guys- have appropriate equipment (with the exception of the tablet and an IPS display, which isn't that important in the beginning) anyways. There's free painting software out there nearly as powerful as PS, but even if you get PS, which for students is not several hundred per year, you're cheaper off than with traditional, at least if you paint a lot, which you have to get better...
    Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating that everyone skip traditional, as I said in the beginning of my post, it's certainly beneficial. All I'm saying is that you don't have to go traditional first, I'm living proof of that (not claiming to be supreme master of the artz, just saying I that get hired), you can learn the fundamentals in digital and they will transfer to traditional. What doesn't transfer is stuff like handling a brush, handling actual paint, mixing it etc.- because you don't do any of that in digital. That goes without saying. You don't need that stuff though if you're working in the entertainment industry, which i assume is the aim for the large majority of beginners on this forum.


    In short, you are offering a beginner to shun three quarters of available digital features. How is the beginner going to know which features to avoid?
    By educating themselves & using proper learning resources.

    PS: I believe watercolours to be a master's medium, I would strongly discourage any beginner starting out to use watercolours... Gouache, as I said, maybe, because of its opaque quality. But not transparent watercolours...
    Last edited by Benedikt; July 9th, 2015 at 03:28 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Benedikt View Post
    Yeah, since most young people- especially guys- have appropriate equipment (with the exception of the tablet and an IPS display, which isn't that important in the beginning) anyways.
    Photoshop with student discount: $240 per year or more. Tablet: $500 minimum. $740 plus, if you already have a powerful computer and a display that does not suck for color.

    5 tubes of oil color: about $70 at most for finest art grade, half that for lower grade, before discounts. 3 brushes: maybe $65 for fine bristle, half that or even less for synthetic. $15 for oil and turpentine. $150 for the best materials so far, or maybe $70 if you go for the second best, without possible discounts applied. Add some cheapest canvases or gesso your own board.

    Still far less expensive than digital. You can start out for 15% of digital setup expenses at least, much less than that if you don't have a suitable computer.

    There's free painting software out there nearly as powerful as PS,
    You quote entertainment industry below. How valuable are skills in free painting software in that industry, or does it demand Photoshop?

    but even if you get PS, which for students is not several hundred per year,
    Check their site. The smallest price I was able to find is least $240 / year, if you prepay for the whole year. More than that if you pay monthly. And only if you are a student in an official educational institution, not someone just claiming that you wanna learn, or studying at a private course.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating that everyone skip traditional, as I said in the beginning of my post, it's certainly beneficial. All I'm saying is that you don't have to go traditional first, I'm living proof of that (not claiming to be supreme master of the artz, just saying I that get hired),
    I have started out copying Disney animation stills, but you don't see me claiming that you don't have to draw in pencil from life first, based on that experience.

    Glad that the unorthodox education worked for you, but you cannot know whether your progress wouldn't be faster and better if you had started traditionally.

    By educating themselves & using proper learning resources.
    And you've just contradicted yourself, thank you.

    PS: I believe watercolours to be a master's medium, I would strongly discourage any beginner starting out to use watercolours... Gouache, as I said, maybe, because of its opaque quality. But not transparent watercolours...
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    For the money issue:

    You can do decent paintings using only the brushes, so I'm sure the free programs are fine. You don't need anything fancy. The OP I assume isn't going to look for jobs anyways. I mean photoshop even works on my shit 7 year old pc, so if you got like crappy comp it shouldn't be a big deal. My tablet also costs $60 b/c its from a 3rd party company and works just as good as my brother's tiny wacom .

    The thing with oil is that if I started out painting with it, it would be very overwhelming to learn how to mix the paints, make sure rooms well ventilated, gesso the boards, prep and clean everything properly, etc, etc. I don't think theres anything wrong with doing only digital if thats what your end goal is. Heck shaddy safadi and eytan zana do all their plein airs and lifedrawing stuff in digital because thats what they work in. As for progress why not both? In Miles sketchbook, he did both trad and dig and progressed at an amazing rate. But tbh its hard to measure who "progressed faster". I do think you can do many more studies at a faster rate in digital though.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Inkem View Post
    The thing with oil is that if I started out painting with it, it would be very overwhelming to learn how to mix the paints, make sure rooms well ventilated, gesso the boards, prep and clean everything properly, etc, etc.
    Mixing paints is a core skill which needs to be mastered, whether digital or traditional. If you find it overwhelming to ventilate rooms, gesso boards, prep and clean, then you will find anything computer overwhelming too...
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