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Hi everyone, hi Jason.
Just bought Level Up yesterday and super keen to get stuck in as its exactly what I've been looking for in terms of self motivated but structured study at this period in my life.
Short bio. I'm 21 and an aspiring student of art. I completed a diploma of fine arts last year but due to circumstances am not able to continue at this present moment to a adv dip / degree etc.
More comfortable in traditional so looking to get my hands real dirty in digital and get a wrestle on this wacom tablet, as we all are.
lets do it!
Almeida Junior - Saudade (Longing)
So what I really love about this painting is the use of verticals within the tall format which i think help let the eye rest on the emphasis and feel calm. If the lines running in the upper portion where horizontal I think it would have a very different experience.
I can see that the main shapes of the background form a cross leading us to the face of the subject. I also really enjoy the economy within this painting especially alongside the variety of detail within the seemingly simple areas of brick and floor, creating visual interest in these areas for the painting that has relatively few points of main interest.
Last edited by dens; April 25th, 2014 at 05:49 AM.
Just a couple of questions and observations:
What size should I be working at? During work I found it hard to get into the details at the level I was working at so i decided to scale up a bit to around 1000 px high. I know that its not best to focus on the details for this assignment but I thought I might ask in either case.
In my own critique of my work I think its interesting how much more i pushed the white values and I didn't notice this until the end. I can see a few places that my placement was a bit off and I'll be more careful to try and block out things accurately at the start. I didn't really sketch in anything but just dived in to pushing around value on this one.
Looking forward to the advise of others
Next in line:
John Singer Sargent - Le Verre De Porto (A Dinner Table at Night)
One hour and 10 minutes.
I chose this work because I really enjoyed the simplicity its design elements have. It is such an economical work and says so much with so little. I liked the repetition of simplified hangings on the wall and lamps, how they lead you around the room. I think the colour in the original really aids in splitting up the different planes of foreground and background but it is still effective in B&W.
I'm happy with this result. Though for what I first thought to be a simpler work I found the subtleties of the tonal changes and textures difficult to get right. I can see that in my version I went much darker then and also brighter yet again. I'll be careful to pay closer attention to the values next time as well as again the exact placement of things. I dived right into large areas of tone in this one again.
Last edited by dens; April 25th, 2014 at 10:25 PM.
Peter Graham - Wandering Shadows
One hour and 3 minutes.
I thought I might leave this one until number 20 for the seeming complexity of this one, and my lack of experience in landscapes, but I gathered up the courage and thought I'd jump right in.
Posting now I can see that in my last pass of trying to obtain a little detail in some areas I've mucked up the placement of some of the slopes in the background. Would anyone have any suggestions for how to manage working on these pieces and generally digitally from ref.
I liked this piece because of the intense atmosphere that it has. I tried to keep atmospheric perspective in mind as I worked but was amazed at the use of dark values effectively in the background but still pushed so far back through the repetition of slopes and rocks.
I've got to run at the moment but I'll write a little more about this piece when I get back this evening.
Last edited by dens; April 25th, 2014 at 10:29 PM.
Rembrandt - Portrait of Johannes Wtenbogaert
1 Hour 10 minutes
Looking at this composition I can see that the silhouette of the figure leads us to his face. The white neck piece draws attention through contrast and I feel is balanced and "sat on" by the dark cap he is wearing. I think the careful placement of the book and hands and their spacial relations also help to balance the lighter values of the face leading the eye around as not to focus to much. I can appreciate this directly for I feel like my motley hands and book aren't doing that job very well.. Good learning though.
I thought this piece would be relatively straight forward for the simple block forms in the image but I met several unanticipated hurdles within the digital medium.
Setting out I was confident and lined everything up well with a messy sketch and then blocked in the relative values pretty simply. I felt ahead of time and decided to work in some detail to the face since it is a portrait. Time got away from me trying to get features right and so I thought I'd better try and get some of the other areas working.
Trying to get texture was difficult. I found myself wasting a lot of energy trying different techniques but later realizing that I had to fix an area and in doing so destroying what texture I had created. I feel like I went on with this push and pull a bit and in the end feel like I may have even moved further away from some placements that I had more correct earlier.
So a good learning experience. Although I don't feel like I have the answers yet, I'm starting to know what can be the pitfalls of this medium.
Ok great to see where you are at. When you are first getting started it is very important to really focus in on the mapping out of your shapes as accurately as you can possibly get them. If you put a shape in the wrong place and commit you end up having the other shapes off and require fixing, which increases painting time. By taking just a few extra minutes early on to measure out your shapes, to compare your shapes, and be sure they are placed and drawn accurately will make the rest of the painting process, working out your values and edges, much much easier.
You should flip the images horizontally and vertically so that you see the shapes with fresh eyes. This should be part of the process and if you are already doing that, keep doing it more. The professional artists will often flip images or use a mirror to see with fresh eyes as many as three or four times a minute as they are working when things really get flowing. You can also back away...actually get up and back away...and doing this works for shapes as well as checking values and edges.
Double check your values after that...you will find some areas to improve if you do.
Keep up the good work.
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres - Study of a Male Nude
One hour and a half
I feel like this work has good balance in the posing of the model and the light hitting him. The upwards hand is balanced with the downwards one, the upwards facing head is balanced by the downwards pointed torso.
Damn Ingres was good.
This was a challenging piece and a good learning experience. I did assign some hotkeys to flip vertical and horizontal throughout and found that this helped a lot in getting the placement right. I also spent more time in the initial stages trying to get the setup right and i think this did save time as I was able to move ahead quikly and confidently in the forms.
I made a lot of use of the smooth round brush in the end of this piece and I think it really pulled it together in the smooth transitions from what I had prior. I tried to be aware of soft and hard edges and keep them as they where.
Still I can see a lot of areas that need improving, the subtleties of this piece are glorious.
be sure you are painting the shadow values while locking your eyes in on the values in the light, so your pupils are not dilating and causing you to see more contrast than there is. the opposite would hold true if the artist was focused on detail in the shadow.
with that said, keep working on your shape mapping and positive and negative shape checking so that you don't widen the shoulders or scale up the face. Once you get your shapes accurately handled, consistently, which I would like to see more of in the next batch, we will see a big jump in quality.
keep it up.
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres - Princess Debroglie
1 Hour 10 - 20 (had a break and lost track)
As a work it presents a lot of detail but balances it with such unified composition.
This one was really fun. I spent a good time trying to get the shapes in better and think about where things where relative to eachother.
I think your tips really helped Jason in the placement and I was sure to keep in mind my values better this time. I hadn't even considered eye dilation due to a back lit screen but it now seems so obvious.
This one was lots of fun. Its funny how you don't notice how far off you can get things until you step back. It all seems right at the time.
Edmund Blair Leighton - In Time of Peril
1 Hour 5 Minutes.
I really love this piece, lots of drama. All of the directions in it are incredible, the oars, the boat, the turned heads. It seems really complicated in how it is working and I feel like I might need to brainstorm a bit more before I analyze further actually. I'll go away and study my notes from the video a bit more.
This one was lots of fun too.
I forgot to flip at all unfortunately so I'll have to remind myself better next time.
How have I never seen that Leighton painting before. It's a beauty.
You can get closer on your shapes and values with this one. It is a surprisingly complex piece as there is such great subtle shapes and tonal atmosphere. I think the two biggest things to focus on is a. shapes, as I mentioned prior....and b. Values. For example you are so close on the ingres study, value wise, and then you went a little bit high key on the background.
Moving forward, make a pass where you study both images by letting your eyes rest and focus on a point between them. Look at the whole of both images in your peripheral vision. If you look directly at an image, your pupils dilate, then you go back to yours and they dilate again...so the key is to look at both at the same time and relax your eyes. Mainly focus between the images and in your peripheral you can see which values are lighter or darker if you weigh both images, visually, at the same time.
Keep up the great work.
Frederic Edwin Church - Cotopaxi
Really liked the calm of this piece. In seeking that its fairly quiet I sought out to nail the shapes really accurately and was pretty happy with my placement, although I struggled to get the mountain looking right. I flipped a lot and that really, really helped though, in shape and in value to refresh my eyes.
Lots of the subtle foreground foliage was really difficult to figure out how to render, and as a result I can see I've neglected my values there.
Repetition and balance are the main players in this piece I feel. Such a great example of balance between the little building and the mountain, the dark and light hitting the land and the horizon and sky. Even I would say the dark foreground in the left is balanced by the far off white of the mountains on the right giving this piece extreme depth as your eye travels to and fro across the entirety of the landscape.
So serene, many peaceful!
John Singer Sargent - Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose
Be back to write up soon.
Boy what a learning experience!
James Gurney - Market Square
(finally a simple title to remember...)
1 Hour 3 minutes
James Gurney holds a special place in my heart / childhood. I think the dinotopia series is the sole reason I wanted to do this.
I'm not to happy with the finish on it and want to get better at edges. I wonder if its just a time and practice thing or whether there are techniques I can better utilise to work to a better finish.
I often feel under confident with my Photoshop settings. Specifically when to have pressure sensitivity on and when to use say the 1-10 opacity blocks on the keyboard, and also what combination of opacity and flow settings for what situation?
I might set aside a little time to just experiment with what works this week. Any suggestions there would be great.
None the less I really enjoyed this piece and I am happy with getting my values closer and shapes closer. There was lots of different elements here and trying to create the feeling of going back in space through shadow and light was really enjoyable. Gurney loves his light and shadows
I like the variety he puts into his repeating stone blocks. It lends so much character and history to the imagined cities he creates. There is a nice sense of balance between the two dino's on the left and the main framed one on the right. Even the little figures here and there play an important role in keeping that balance where it needs to be. Lastly the movement of the scene is gorgeous. Everyone is running and walking and we are lead back and forth with our eyes through the long necks and shadows they create, it really makes this piece feel like a snapshot from a camera for me of an everyday street.
Hi Spike I hope you won't mind if I respond here to your message.
What I did since study 4 is start watching and reading the other threads to understand better the process we are going through, if you do you'll probably see there is a bunch of people having the same problems than you, Jason's criticism and other people's comments to their problems will work for you too.
I believe most of what you are asking for is already written in mine or others threads so I would encourage you to read those threads.
My conclusion was that the only way for most of us to really learn how to get shape, value and edges right it's throwing the clock out of the window and focusing on getting it as good as you honestly can, keeping in mind is not necessary to paint the fingernails (despite I know sometimes I do paint unnecessary details)
I always imagine I have a kind of target cross in front of my eyes and I try to be as accurate as I can with what I find on the vertical and horizontal lines in relation to every point I'm painting, everything has a coordinate in the original piece and I try to reproduce that.The edge of the painting is a ruler by itself, I use that constantly to measure visually. If I have doubts with my measurement I draw a quick horizontal line pressing shift to see where I'm exactly and if I still doubting also a vertical line.
Softer the edge the softer brush, the harder the edge the harder the brush and I try to find the proper value each time before the first brush stroke.
I try to understand what should I be doing, how should I be working with my tools if I where the one creating that piece.
I read here somewhere I can't find: "Be honest with your work and faithful to the original masterpiece", I take that literally. I have decided that I'm here to make the best I can so I just present the study once I think is good. If there are still differences but I don't understand why is time to upload too.
Also I always remember that some amazing professionals say that there are no sort cuts to be good, takes an exhausting amount of work and time so that's what I'm trying to do.
Besides this, I still struggle too much too often and I need to be much more accurate with the tools. Just in case this gives you some perspective my fastest study of the good ones was Choultsé around five or six hours, and the longest I suppose Berkey but I don't even know, could be 16 hours even more.
Also I read the composition 1.1. description, tips and purpose every now and then just in
case I forget anything and I try to be very aware of the list of design principles and taking the time and effort to comment about them.
I think it's absolutely all I can say, I hope it helps .
Last edited by Raúl.Arbeloa; June 3rd, 2014 at 12:02 PM.
Your study of Frederic Edwin Church - Cotopaxi is really good,
you got the soft edges and the hard one. Works beautifully in my opinion.
You struggle on the characters mostly, in the proportions of the face.
Raúl.Arbeloa pointed a lot of good tips, keep trying and i am sure you will get it.
I already saw some good progression.
For you last study, you got the big values right, but don't forget to look at the proportions.
Try to always measuring, you have to refer to some place in drawing than you are confident of, (the big dino on the right by exemple) and keep looking if you don't go off.
Hi dens just a correction in timing, study n.8 had to be more around 7 hours and n.4 around 27, 28 hours.
And I forgot to mention I almost always use background music to work, from OSTs to whatever single music track that help me get in the proper mood to work.
Every artist uses photoshop a little differently. I believe you will answer those questions about settings on your own, by the time you are done with this thread. That is part of the reason for these studies, to get full control over the digital tools. Enjoy experimenting and trying things. That is part of this process. For me I do most my painting using a soft edged brush set to low opacity. As time goes by I increase the crispness of the brush and the opacity to carve out shapes more cleanly and bring the piece into focus. Others use hard edged brushes at full opacity to start and soften things down as they go. There is no one way...you must find the ways that work best for you and that will be done in this assignment...I am pretty darn sure of that.
I shared this earlier but it applies...so here you are. When you get your shapes worked out well, pay very close attention to the values. You want to match the values you see as closely as you can. It is important to be very honest about what you are seeing. try to put the accurate value down with each stroke as otherwise you end up having to fix things along the way and being accurate will save you time. Really take the time to observe and compare and choose the right value. If you are off, adjust it, don't keep working and come back to it. You are doing great...just need to focus in on value a little more.
Keep it up.