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  1. #1
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    On digital painting and construction

    Yeah yeah, here we go again with digital vs traditional debate...

    I'm 23 so I'm by no means a particularly "old school" artist, but I did go to art school for a few years and have been through the wringer of life drawing and art history classes. My digital painting approach very closely mimics traditional painting (ie very few layers, not using fancy brushes or effects, etc), and for my professional architectural work I still prefer to do all the initial drawings traditionally before uploading them to the computer for rendering. So that's the background I'm speaking from on this topic.

    I've noticed in the last year or so a pretty big rise in what I would call "Photoshop experts who paint". People whose rendering is absolutely gorgeous because they know how to use every tool available, but their actual construction is godawful. I remember probably about 5-8 years ago the big thing was everyone dodging and burning the crap out of all their digital paintings. Now it seems everyone has figured out how to use those tools properly, but still haven't figured out how to actually draw. I see a lot of digital artists immediately painting on top of their first rough sketch, using the liquify tool as they go to "fix" any construction issues. 40 hours in and they're still loading effects and brushes on top of a crap underdrawing that they think is fixed because they've liquified an arm into a slightly better position.

    I feel like there's something to be said for having to go back and manually erase/redraw things you've screwed up. When you've erased your paper so many times that you have to throw it out because it's unworkable, you want to learn how to draw things right the first time. But all these digital artists are just pulling, pushing, squashing and stretching parts of the drawing until it looks okay because there's no repercussions. They don't have to repaint everything, they don't have to even reapply their effects.

    I don't know, that's just my two cents. I can't make anyone sit down with a pencil and eraser and learn to draw properly. I'm by no means a professional concept artist, just an architect. But it's a pet peeve of mine when I open up a drawing that everyone is going "OMG AMAZING SO GOOD" on, and while yes it's very pretty, it's also a wonky broken mess of anatomy.

    Thoughts?
    Sketchbook (last updated June 20th, 2018)


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  3. #2
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    Totally agree. I'm seeing a lot of photobashing where it's pretty obvious that the artists doesn't understand form or light. Photobashing is a tool like everything else, but as it's mainly used to speed up process, people think it's a shortcut to great art. It isn't. But look at the bright side - fewer artists getting to professional levels, so more jobs for the people who actually do the work.

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  5. #3
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    Traditional skills allow you to make money from the sale and marketing of originals. If you want to work as an artist professionally you have to be able to generate more than one income stream to survive more than a year or two making art. That means working at a professional level with as many different mediums as you can muster.

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  7. #4
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    To be honest, this would've been accurate a couple of years ago, but I don't think it is anymore. I don't see nearly as much photobashing with wonky perspective in my feeds as I used to, because most people now use 3D. You can of course still photobash or overpaint with wrong perspective on top of a perfectly fine 3D output, so fundamentals are still necessary of course. It's just not as prevalent anymore because 3D solves the difficult problems (perspective with complex and/or repetitive forms and lighting as well) for you.

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    You could think of it another way though. Whether you are drawing the proportions by hand in a tight sketch first, or using liquify later, you are drawing! Moving things to be in the correct position is drawing.

    Whether you are making it appear three dimensional in the drawing, or rendering planes later, you are using construction.

    As long as you deal with the two problems you mentioned, construction and proportion, in some way, does it really matter how you do it?

    Now I'm kind of just playing devil's advocate with you. Know that I agree wholeheartedly that people should learn to draw. I do things the old fashioned way myself. If you spend hours rendering a face and then move an eye over with liquify I think that's really bad because its a problem that should have been caught in the beginning. But then again, sometimes when painting or drawing a portrait traditionally, that happens!

    I do kind of feel that people should get less attached to photoshop tools, though. Sometimes I think it would be funny to watch some people try and paint or draw with actual materials and just watch the frustration set in. I admit sometimes when I make a mistake in real life I find myself looking for the 'undo' button.

  9. #6
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    Why are there people using pencils and erasers and not ink?


  10. #7
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    for the same reason some comic books have pencillers and inkers

  11. #8
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    I mean why does OP require it be a condition that a person use tools that are no easier than using pencil+eraser, but not no easier than, say, ink (assuming it's harder) for it not to be considered cheating (if I understand him correctly)?


  12. #9
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    I believe the OP is referring more to the oversights that some illustrations get so long as they fall adequately into current trends and styles. It's something that has been occuring for decades now. It's more a question of having a good foundation in the construction of an accurate subject. Which was done wholly through tried and test methods of traditional studies, but can be simulated to an ever increasing degree by digital processes with less and less true understanding and input from the end user.
    Last edited by Mike Tenebrae; February 19th, 2018 at 05:13 AM.

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  14. #10
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    I mean you can use inks if you want, but the point is the physical labour of having to redo your work and get it right before moving on is what makes you a good artist.
    Sketchbook (last updated June 20th, 2018)

  15. #11
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    Like this video is an example of what I’m talking about - it’s very pretty but there’s constant readjustments and moving around of parts because they couldn’t be bothered to draw it properly on the first go. Not to mention how terribly cramped the composition is because who cares it’s a pretty woman

    https://youtu.be/WvgvID7nte0
    Sketchbook (last updated June 20th, 2018)

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  17. #12
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    I think traditional forces you to plan more, thumbnails, roughs, color studies etc. so you are making as investment that everything is right before you start final, of-course you can do this with digital but how many people who use it because of ability to change things quickly???

  18. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by octopuscats View Post
    Like this video is an example of what I’m talking about... Not to mention how terribly cramped the composition is because who cares it’s a pretty woman.
    Looks like just about every issue of ImagineFX. But maybe that's a different discussion.

    Aksherly, no. Just had another quick skim through a couple of issues, and it's the same discussion. I just didn't notice how some carry out the very same procedure that you're commenting on. One tute has the artist redesigning and redrawing the subject right up 'til the painting was done, and counting it as an advantage. Though in my opinion the sorry end result counts towards your point.
    Last edited by Vermis; February 20th, 2018 at 12:00 PM.
    ...which is only my opinion.
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  20. #14
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    I completely forgot ImagineFX actually existed. Sounds like it's not worth remembering though.
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  21. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by octopuscats View Post
    Like this video is an example of what I’m talking about - it’s very pretty but there’s constant readjustments and moving around of parts because they couldn’t be bothered to draw it properly on the first go. Not to mention how terribly cramped the composition is because who cares it’s a pretty woman

    https://youtu.be/WvgvID7nte0
    It's not that I like the end result of that video at all, but in principle I don't see any problems with adjusting stuff on the go. Painting is not a performance art, nobody gives a f* how you work as long as the result is good.

    If youre dead set on constructing everything by hand you wont be competitive today anyways because depending on subject matter I'll churn out 5 variations by using 3D before you can finish one sketch by hand.

    These are all just tools in everyday production work and no tool is off limits.

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