Digital Painterly Tips
My project required 22 painted images done digitally, and I used a combination of Corel painter and Photoshop. Each program has strengths and weaknesses, and they work best when used together. For example, Corel’s selection tools are much worse than Photoshop’s, so in the early stages of the painting (“blocking” the image) I would open the file in Photoshop (I work in PSD) and make the final drawing visible. Then I would make a new layer for the topic being drawn, like “sky”, “landscape”, “clouds” and “character”. Then I would use a 100% opaque brush with black and trace the silhouette of what that layer was going to contain in the painting. Turn the drawing layer’s Opacity down, so you can be sure you cover up to the edges. And lock the layers you aren’t using.
For this, it’s important to leave no gaps in the outline. Make it at least 5 pixels wide for the selection process. After that portion of the painting is fully outlined, select the “magic wand tool” and click OUTSIDE of the drawing outline. Then, go to the Selection menu and select “Inverse” (CTRL/CMND + SHIFT + I). That turns the selection inside out. If you select inside the outline, when you fill there will be a halo around the edge of the selection where the brush faded to white.
After you have your reversed selection, go to Edit > Fill > 50% grey, 100% opacity. This marks the whole of that object with a neutral color, which you can highlight and shade in Painter. To use this feature to it’s full potential, when you paint change the layer to “preserve opacity”. That lets you paint to the edge of the object, but transparent or partially visible pixels maintain their transparency level. Therefore, what wasn’t filled in photoshop, can’t be painted over. That lets you paint to the edge without fear of overpainting.
Lighting Vs Value
When painting a character that had tattoos, I hatched a method that saves a huge chunk of work. In one paint layer, render the object according to the light in the scene. Create a new layer over it, and change it’s blending mode to “Overlay” (it’s in both photoshop and corel). Now paint with black to darken, and white to highlight (darken in the case of these tattoos). The overlay pixels merely adjust the brightness of the pixels underneath when only black and white are used. That way, the tattoos reflect the lighting that you have done, without the effort of reprocessing how the light would interact with each tattoo. Use this technique for various values on a subject, like different clothing. That way you only have to render the lighting once, and can divide the painting into more discrete steps.
I painted all of my project by rendering in grayscale, and then using a layer set to “Overlay” blending mode with all of the color added. Overlay uses the values of the pixels beneath it, and adds or subtracts hue and value based on the color you paint onto the overlay layer. Brighter than Brightness 50 will brighten, less will darken. 50% brightness with any hue will match whatever rendering is underneath it exactly. Use this to color your artwork, by doing the color and value separately to make each task simpler and to make mistakes easier to correct.
Lock what you aren’t working on.
Work back to front, large to small when painting.
I hope you enjoyed this article and learned something from it!