Shinkasuru's Sketchbook
A quick digital painting I did in Photoshop using mostly a soft brush. I prefer a more painterly look. I personally am not crazy about this painting, but I am new to digital painting and I need to try anything now and find my way. So it's all a learning experience for me.

Any comments or feedback is always appreciated.

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I think there a problem of flow or brush the lips for example are super rendered compare to the rest you can also notice in the bottom how you worked with a brush with flow.I know it a quick painting but if you need to you could blend those flow mark.I can probably say and be correct that the lips where made with a combination of soft and hard brush but the rest was mainly dod with a soft brush.

When you apply texture if it decal you should try to use the warping tool or try to use the smudge tool.

One last thing i want to point out is how you could define more the mouth cavity if tend to show more on really skinny person since it a hard structure of the cranium.

Here my attempt at improving your drawing maybe you can get something out of it.

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My Sketchbook
The journey of an artist truly begin when he can learn from everyone error.
Teamwork make your dream work.
Asking help is the key to growth.

I think the overall drawings is good. its dark and gloomy , well done.

For painting, I find the color a bit muddy because of the choice of your dark background . Since the background is completly dark there is very little reflected light. also its seems to me that you don't shift colour temperature between hightlight, midtone , shadow and dark accents. If you re not familiar with these subjects, you could find a great read in James gurney Color and light and Richards Schmidt Alla prima.

What I find very cool in your painting is that you keep most of edge softs, but if you want to go for a more painterly style (like Richards Schmidt maybe, or Sargent) you need to keep some harder edge. You could try studying the sargent look and define each plane of light with a brushstroke and the corresponding different hue. Its hard to do but its has some impact.

I see you do mostly portrait, you could try framing the whole bust, its could help for expressivity.I think that if you do a composition with only the head you don't want the head hanging in the middle of the canva, you want to feel as if the character was taken out of an action, he is doing something, maybe surprised, looking at you or away, focused or dizzy.
darktiste:  Thank you for your feedback, and the paintover. I don't recall what flow I used, but I thought I had opacity and flow at 100%. Admittedly, I did not know what i was doing. I am new to painting, and new to the digital medium. I think you are right about the lips. I believe I switched to a hard-edged brush at some point toward the end and then defined some details on the lips. I see how the painting looks inconsistent because of that. I do use the smudge tool and I like it a lot; however, I do not think I used it on this painting. Much thanks for your help.

Baldgate:  I hadn't considered the colors on the faces looking muddy because of the dark background. If anything, I thought it might have been because I wasn't sure how to use the soft light blending mode, which is how I added the first layer of color. I went with the dark background so I can focus just on the face and show only a little of the hair through the highlights.

Would you say I have the same issue not switching the color temperature with the other paintings in my sketchbook, or just on this one? I admit I never studied painting and I don't know much about color, other than trying to feel it out and go with what I think looks best. I usually try to use analogous color schemes. Another thing I need to get used to is painting two dimensionally. Previously, I painted resin and latex heads using an airbrush. I realize that I cannot apply the same techniques in my two dimensional paintings. I will need to practice.

I am familiar with both of the books you mentioned, and I actually own James Gurney's book. Funny you should mention it. I just started browsing the book the other night. I will give it a read because I know I need a lot of practice with my painting and understanding of color theory.

I agree with you about using hard edges to achieve a more painterly style. I think I wanted the soft look on this piece for some reason, but mostly I am impressed with painterly works like those of Sargent.

Thank you for reminding me about better composition opportunities for portraits. I read about composition for portraits in a few books in the past. And I recall reading that it is better not to center a portrait right in middle of the canvas. I would be better framing it as you suggested or using the rule of thirds. I will keep this in mind for my next portrait. Thank you for your feedback. It is very insightful and helpful to me.

Hey Shinkasuru, just my two pence on painterly style: I use a hard brush and block in with very clearly defined edges between each block of paint. Kind of using the "tiling" method. Then I go in with a smudge tool to blend the edges that I want to be soft.

Something to try and see if it suits you - if not please ignore :).

Keep posting mate!

“Today, give a stranger one of your smiles. It might be the only sunshine he sees all day.” -- H. Jackson Brown Jr.

CD Sketchbook

@Shinsakuru : You're welcome . I may be mistaken, but on all your portrait I feel like the base tones is good, but you don't switch temperature. Basically, if your shadow are warm, your light is cool, and if your shadow are cools, your light is warm. Its true 95% of the time, except in some rares case where there is apparently no distinguishable temperature shift at all , (quoting Richard Schmidt here) Dark accent are always warm, and you may change specular temperature for more striking effect.

By temp, I mean : Yellow is supposedly a warm color, but its cooler than vermillion orange. Viridan Green is a cool colour, but its warmer than a blue-green. Basically the Warmest color is vermillion and the coolest is blue-green. Temperature is hightly subjective and depends of the colour on the canva. You always look at it depending of the adjacent colors.

Light and color are closely associated. The base color and texture of the object is lit, and the light will change the tones. its a big subject, but its great that you have James Gurney book, because he describe everything very well !

I'm not super familiar with layer mode, but I know that colour dodge warm up the colour and make it lighter. Useful for fire ! :D.

For your background, since your skin tones are a brownish color, you could try using a cool black to make it pop, with a blueish hue, and warm up the skin tones. Also, a general advice I see often is ''don't use pure black or pure white''. of course they re is no such thing as rule in art and you can bend them and do super great. But if you like, soften the contrast everywhere and just add a touch of near black at the focal point, and a hightlight near it, its will make it pop and bring instant focus on this area. With value, you can build a hierarchy of focal point in your composition, so I think you should try to keep your darkest dark and lightest light for your focal point and make everything else more near mid value.

To be honest, i'm not great at compositon myself but I can share artist I like, though . I think Richard Schmidt and Jeremy Lipking could be some good reference for it, hope you like it !
There's some nice looking stuff in here study-wise. Your head constructions are looking fairly solid (especially traditionally). 

That said: I'm totally going to rag on you for painting with a soft brush, though (sorry in advance, lol) -- don't do that. You want more hard edges than soft ones when painting, especially if you're trying to be 'painterly'. Think of it this way: it's always easy to go back and smooth something out (smudge, lose the edge), but it's very difficult to work the other way around and make something that's initially soft-appearing into something more solid-feeling. (You will essentially have to entirely paint it over to achieve the hard edge.) Most pros will tell you to mainly paint with a basic hard-edge brush and use an airbrush (or similar soft) brush very sparingly. The reason your traditional portraits feel more solid/finished than your digitally painted ones is due to them having more defined edges -- you rendered them with a hard pencil, then blended where you needed to to achieve smoother plane changes. (Not the other way around, like you're doing in your digital work.) Look at how much more solid your noses feel on any of your traditional pieces, then compare them to your digital ones. Those softly painted edges are making it feel like you're unsure of exactly where you're placing your marks, when you clearly do know where to put them via your traditional work. The wings of the nose, the folded edges of your eyelids -- you leave them all hard in your traditional pieces, but they soften and (almost) disappear entirely (in some cases) in your digital works. Harden those edges up! Be deliberate in your mark making! Don't blend everything and kill all your edges because it'll (unintentionally) boot the feeling of realism out the window.

Look at how your latest digital piece with the scary old woman has the top lip pop forward so much more than the rest of the face because you used a hard brush there. Imagine getting that solidness into a few other selected places (like the eyes!) it would make the piece pop and feel so much more intentional. You put all this detail of veins into the skin, but they're getting lost because everything else is so mushy. The hair and edges of the face/features have the feeling of pulled cotton in this piece, not solid objects (or even receding-into-darkness objects), so it makes the texture you so worked hard putting into everything else sort of superfluous because it feels like a bit of a mismatch.

You definitely understand how to render, so that's not the problem -- I can see it in your traditional work, previous digital portraits, and even in the choices of values you're using in your pieces -- just swap out the soft brushes you're using for harder ones and the quality of your digital work is going to jump forward immensely. It may take you a bit of practice to entirely get the hang of it, but you'll find it so much easier to work with in the long run. Your digital portraits on the first page of your sketchbook aren't far off the mark, just harden up those solid/defining features and you'll be good to go!

Artloader: Thank you for the advice. I have used this technique before and I'm starting to go back to it. I'm trying to find a balance between soft and hard. I don't want either to be too strong. I have not used this exact method you describe though. I will give it a try! Thank you.
Baldgate:  Thank you for the direction on the color temperatures. While I am aware of warm and cool colors, I'm not well versed in how to use them to your advantage. For example, I did not know that most of the time if a shadow is warm, the highlights would be cool, and vice versa. This is helpful advice.
I did start the Gurney book and I found the text to be a little dry for the first 40 pages or so, but that's okay. I think he is trying to introduce the subject to the reader regarding many different lighting situations. I will need to reread those sections as I become more familiar with the subject.
I also picked up Schmid's book. I've only read a few of the pages so far, but the introduction sounds great. I think I'm going to get something out of this book. I'm really looking forward to reading it.
You are correct about color dodge. I have used it a few times, but not much. More for special effects or fire like you mentioned. If I go from grayscale to color I will usually use soft light blending mode or color blending mode. I'm still learning so I don't know much about it yet. I just experiment a little and learn what I can from online tutorials and books.
I appreciate your advice on the background and concentrating on the darkest darks and lightest lights as the focal point.
Thank you both for your advice. I appreciate the guidance.

Thank you very much for the feedback, Riley. I don't think you realize how appreciative I am to receive that kind of feedback. That is exactly why I joined this forum. Years ago I was part of a forum for sculptors and creature/character designers and I remember, other than a few small criticisms now and then, mostly other board members just praised my work, and I knew there were areas I could improve, but I was too close to the work to identify all of the things that needed improving. Unfortunately no one really brought anything to my attention, so I never really got what I wanted out of the forum.

I am very thankful that so far the users here have been very helpful in their brutal honesty about areas of my work that need improvement. Thank you for your honest feedback.

I definitely get what you are saying and I think I am starting to understand what I need to do now. I recall that when I painted this I had just watched a painting demo on YouTube and the guy painted the entire piece with a soft brush. He just went really small with fine details like wrinkles and all and I think it looked good in the end, but still the piece did have a "soft" look to it in the end. It did not have that John Singer Sargent "painterly" look which I am very interested in incorporating into my own work. Not that every piece has to have the painterly look, but I don't like that airbrushy digital look either, and that is exactly what I did with the zombie girl, not to mention the fact that there is no gesture or expression in that piece. But I won't be too hard on myself since I am new to painting and digital painting. But learning what I'm doing wrong from the get go and correcting it is definitely the best thing I can do for myself right now, lest I create bad habits that are difficult to break.

Thank you again for your comments, Riley. They were very insightful and I definitely feel bolstered to return to my next painting and try to get closer to achieving the look I desire.

A few more head studies I did over the weekend. I never end up drawing as much as I want to, but doing something is better than nothing I suppose.

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So I posted the work-in-progress shots, including the grayscale version of this piece in my introduction post. It's a painting I attempted of my niece. When it was in grayscale, I thought I was capturing her likeness, but I now see that I am really not even close. And that is okay. I have to get used to drawing and painting on a tablet and applying some of the same techniques I use traditionally, which I have not done much of so far (like measuring or sighting). Painting digitally is a whole new experience for me. For example, I did not begin this painting with a sketch. Rather, I started laying in some values in grayscale and built up the painting in layers. I understand this is a common approach for a painter, but for me this is all new. Normally I would not be painting a picture of my niece. I would just do a drawing in graphite or charcoal on paper. So I have to give myself some time to get used to the new medium; therefore, I am not too concerned with the likeness right now. I want to analyze the painting as a whole and see where I can improve.

That said, does anyone have any comments or suggestions? I'll tell you my approach with this painting: I began laying values in grayscale, using a hard elliptical brush. When I was satisfied with the values and forms, I added the base color by using a soft light blending mode. Then in normal mode, I started adding in some red tones, shadows, highlights, yellows, blues, etc.

I want to just finish up this painting because I tend to get bored with any art work I do if it drags on for too long. So I figure I if anyone has any feedback, I'll do another pass to add the final touches and then be done with it.

I have several other paintings I would like to move on to, but I feel this one needs a little more love before I put it to rest.

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I think you have a solid base for the painting, the textures are not very convincing imo, you have a lot of soft edges which is good, id just consider finding some brushes or techniques to indicate hair that feels like hair and cloth and skin etc. it can be as simple as a few grainy marks between value changes to show texture, it goes a long way ;)

70+Page Koala Sketchbook: SB

Paintover thread, submit for crits!
[color=rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.882)]e owl sat on an oak. The more he saw, the less he spoke.[/color]
@Fedodika: Thank you for the feedback. I think that is good advice. I'm a little bored with this painting so I'm going to leave it alone for a bit and move on to other things, but when I return to it I will focus on creating more realistic looking hair and adding texture to the skin, hair, and clothes.

I think your drawing is good, especially the head! A thing throwing me a bit off is the clothes, can't tell really why but it doesn't feel as cloth to me, maybe the texture as fedodika pointed out. I think the plane of light could be more decided on it, it might sway a bit too much . From afar your painting look really good, the head pops well ! I like that you made the eyes darker than everything else, its instantly put my focus on them.
You're very welcome, Shin. I'm glad it was helpful. I tend to be a very blunt person by nature and I always appreciate when people are the same to me in return with feedback, but I know it can sometimes be a touchy thing. Patting artists on the head for encouragement is all well-and-good, but it's not always helpful. I'd much rather someone address me directly and inadvertently add bit of salt in my wounds, rather than just sugarcoat issues to spare my feelings -- it's really the only way to improve. 

Latest painting is looking much better (solid eyelids!), but I still feel like your brush is looking a tiny bit soft in some areas. It looks like you may either have the opacity or flow dropped down a smidge. In reality, you don't have to to do either of those things. Make sure both are on full (or the flow is down no more than, say, 70% depending on the brush) and then simply rely on pen pressure to regulate your opacity. 

Her head/face as a whole looks a tad long in the nose/cheekbone area. Not sure if this is distortion from the angle we're viewing her looking up at us or not, but I would just copy/paste the top half of the head (to under the eyes) and scoot it down some. 

Do some drapery studies to help nail down those fabric creases/wrinkles. (Heck, I need to do some of those myself. Creating convincing fabric folds can be a headache.)

Keep up the good work!

@Baldgate:  Thanks for the advice. I agree with you and Fedodika. I must admit I didn't put much time into the shirt, and sort of just laid out the values quickly as placeholders. I need to go back in and really define the planes, plus I will heed your advice and add texture as well. I will need to study some examples of other artists' paintings for some guidance.

@Riley Stark:  I agree with what you wrote in your first paragraph. After years of sculpting and painting three-dimensionally, I finally returned to drawing, and am venturing into digital painting for the first time in my life. I don't want to waste time and as long as I feel driven to continue studying, I want to learn all that I can. I much rather have my work torn apart (as long as the criticism is creative). I'm here to continue growing as an artist, and I think it is clear that the other members of this forum are in the same boat.

Many thanks for your compliment. I'm glad to hear that I have made some improvements with this effort. I do not recall if I had the opacity or flow turned down, or if I went a little head with the smudge tool. I will be cognizant of both next time though. I have been trying to keep my opacity and flow at 100%. When I did my first few paintings, the way I learned from the course I took, I was keeping the opacity and flow at only 20%. I had since learned from other tutorials that neither has to be lowered at all when painting. 

I agree with you about the nose looking too long. I think it should be moved up. I looked at the painting again and then at the reference photo. It's definitely too low. The painting itself is not a good likeness at all, but admittedly, this was more an exercise in painting for me and I needed some subject to look at so I painted my niece. I do plan on trying to do a real likeness of her and my other niece (already promised my brother and sister-in-law I would) when my skills get a little better.

You suggested copying and pasting below the eye, which I tried. I pasted the section I selected with lasso tool in a new layer. And then used the move tool to shift up the layer. I then erased the top section that overlapped the eyes, and repainted the bottom excess (from shifting it up). Is this what you were suggesting, or did you have another method in mind?

You are absolutely right that I need to do some drapery studies. I have no experience painting fabric at all. It would be well worth the time spent on doing some studies. I just need to find the time to do it. That's always the trick.

Thank you everyone for your valuable feedback. I do appreciate your insights.

I know, I haven't posted anything lately. But I will soon.

I have just one image to post now. This is not a completed piece. Let me explain what this is all about and what I hope to get out of it.

A few of you have commented on my soft edges and lack of hard edges, as well as advising me to paint without opacity and flow. I heeded that advice and decided that I need to get past spending so much time watching tutorials and trying to learn about digital painting with just theory under my belt. I need to get my feet wet. I need to just do it. Painting an entire portrait, figure, or even a scene could be a little overwhelming for a newcomer like myself, so I decided that I want to spend some time doing quick sketches/paintings (1-2 hours max). If I don't get that far in that time, that is fine. I will get farther along in the process as I gain more practice. So what I am posting here is nothing special. Just a study of an ear (took about 20-25 mins), and a chimpanzee (perhaps an hour and 10 minutes or so). I want to try to do a few of these a week if possible. If I paint something I like and want to take it to completion, that is fine, but at another time. The idea of these exercises is to practice painting and to learn something from it.

For both of these quick sketches, I used only one brush, opacity and flow at 100%, and I used no smudge tool for blending. I just blended with the brush (which has some opacity built into it). I did not think much about color. I just did the best I could and stayed determined to just paint and not think too much. Because if I allow my inner critic to start speaking, it will never shut up and I'll eventually feel like I'm just not ready for this because I don't know what I am doing. That's not productive thinking and it will get me nowhere.

So here it is, two quick studies, and I hope the beginning of a regular practice for me. Just remember, this is the best I could do in the short amount of time I devoted to the studies. My intention is to get in, and within a limited time, achieve the best result I can. They both need a lot of work to be considered completed studies, but that's not the point of the exercise.  I would expect the quality of these studies to improve over time, in the same amount of allotted time (as long as I am diligent in my practice and I analyze my results).

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okay so, this is a trick i do a lot to get a lot more realism. Paint up to the quality you got with the last two, then pull up depth of field or a very very strong blur filter and make it extremely soft, take all the hard edges out completely, then go in and add them back in selectively. This always makes everything i draw x2 better with edges because i have some truly soft edges and, yes its tough and intimidating at first but it will teach you alot!

70+Page Koala Sketchbook: SB

Paintover thread, submit for crits!
[color=rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.882)]e owl sat on an oak. The more he saw, the less he spoke.[/color]
Hey Shinkarasu, I replied to your message in my sketchbook, and I figured I would hop over here and see what you're up to. The other posters here have given you some good advice. I'd like to point out something else. It seems your images in general don't have a strong sense of lighting and are therefore lacking the feeling of form. For example, the soft brush portrait with the red eyes seems to have shadows indicating a top light, which would mean the top of the nose facing the light should be lighter. Really think about how the forms are facing in relation to the light, and how that should change things. Get some images with good directional lighting and study them, or set up your own still life, use 3D software, whatever.

I'd recommend doing the same kind of study I was told to do, like this:

Do an at least decent sketch. Divide your overall lights and darks. Work on the transition between light and dark. Then go back and add the more subtle variations of light and dark without breaking the overall separation of light and dark. You can also choose to ignore one side and only focus on the variation in light or only in shadow, since it is a study.

Try something like these:

Hope this helps!

@Fedodika: Interesting idea. Thanks for the tip. I will definitely give it a try.

@ThereIsNoJustice: Thank you very much for the advice. I do agree with you that the paintings I have completed so far have been devoid of any real shadows, save for some basic cast shadows. I really need to work on this. Thanks for the links to the images. These are perfect and I will try some studies using these references.


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