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New to illustration, and have a few questions

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  • New to illustration, and have a few questions


    First time posting so let me just introduce myself briefly.

    I've recently started drawing, I used to like it as a child but I let it go once I grew up. I am serious about drawing now, I know I can do this but I also know I should get help and get involved in a comunity of designers in order to progress faster that is why I am joining GDF. Anyways, I don't want to talk about myself, all I want is to get the knowledge I need to get my ideas on to paper.

    So, I've been trying to draw enviroments with characters and such but my painting never turn out how I want them to. I'm trying to paint in grayscale and then add color but jesus, it turns out so messy so I never finish them and start something else. I need answers to some of these questions. I know everyone does everything different, but I feel like if I can some different points of view I can find the answers I want.

    So first question.


    When I try to do something like this:

    Click image for larger version

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    I see some people using brushes with some transparency and others are 100% Opacity.

    My paintings turn so weird and messy when I try this, for me it seems better to use it with no transparency but which is better?

    # 2 How many layers do you use?

    I see some people using so few layers, I dunno how they keep it all so clean, when I start a painting I find myself wanting to create a layer for everything.

    # 3 Is using gradients that effective? I'd like to ask how to use gradients because I have no clue how they work, but honestly I haven't dedicated any time on that so I don't know what to ask about it.

    # 4 Do you go through any preperation when you are going to create something completely new to you or do you just go with the flow?

    # 5 What is your opinion on photo bashing? Does it look very "unatural" when you finish it your painting? (unatural as in, you can sorta tell that you used photos)

    I know there is no right way to do things but I'd like to get your opinions on these questions.

    Thank you in advance!

    Peace out.

  • #2
    Hi Timasso and welcome to GDF.

    We ask all new members to read very important links here and here. These explain the rules, how the forum runs and a few inside jokes. No, you haven't done anything wrong, we ask every new member to read them. Your first few posts will be moderated, so don't panic if they don't show up immediately. Enjoy your stay.
    Shop smart. Shop S-Mart.


    • #3
      At first I thought you were saying you were painting with traditional (non-digital) media, but further on you mention layers and transparency, so now I'm wondering which application you're using. Photoshop, maybe?

      Anyway, the illustration you linked to would have been more easily done in Illustrator, not Photoshop, since it's a series of solid shapes and fills.

      As for Photoshop, though, it sort of seems like you're trying to approach digital media in the same way one might approach a painting with physical brushes on canvas or illustration board. Even though whatever application you're using has tools that sort of resemble brushes, it doesn't mean they're the best digital tools for the job.

      For example, the rather uneven sky in your illustration could have been remedied by filling in the sky with a solid color, then using the dodging and burning tools to selectively darken and lighten areas of that sky. A similar (but more mechanical) approach could have been obtained using the gradient tool, like you mentioned.

      Photoshop (if that's what you're using) is a reasonably complex application with dozens of tools, filters and processes that can be used in various ways to do all kinds of things. Getting good at what you're trying to do means concentrating on learning how all those tools work and how you can use them to accomplish what you're trying to create. At this point, you might want to go through a few tutorials and practice learning the ins and outs of the program instead of focusing trying to create finished artwork.

      As for questions...

      1. I think I've already answered that.

      2. Use as many layers as you need. That's what they're there for. There is no ideal number to use. It all depends on the nature of what you're working on.

      3. Gradients can work fine, but there are other options too (like I mentioned before). Actually, gradients can result in other problems -- both aesthetic and practical -- but that's a whole other subject.

      4. As for preparation in terms of thinking through the problem, yes, that's important. It's always a good idea to know where you're going, but like with traditional mediums, some people prefer to wing it, while others like to know exactly where they're going before they begin. Most people are somewhere in the middle, I suppose. After you master using the applications and gain experience, you develop habits and ways of working that you know will work.

      5. Photobashing? I'm unfamiliar with that term, but I'm assuming you're referring to opening a digital photo, then manipulating it in Photoshop to produce a stylized illustration. Is it OK to do that? Yes, as long as you're not breaking copyright laws by selling the artwork from a photo you don't have rights to use. I think your question was more about the aesthetics or ethics of using photos as a starting place. When it comes to that kind of thing, there really are no rules -- it's the end piece that counts. There are a good many photographer/illustrators who have been very successful in producing very interesting works of art by manipulating photos into hybrids that exist somewhere between photography and illustration.


      • #4
        They said illustrator in the title, B.

        1. there is no ''better'' As a printer I prefer not to see transparency in anything, but that's just me. If the art is used commercially, transparency effects have bad reactions with files that contain spot colors. You may not know what those are, but when art is used commercially, it is usually overlaid with things like corporate logos, and the colors in those logos are identified as very specific spot colors. Bad reactions like mysterious white boxes around text, transparent items dropping out, font issues.... all kinds of things. These are all known issues, so whether or not you use transparency really doesn't matter.

        2. As many as it takes. Looking at your art, you would probably keep elements at the same distance level on the same layer.

        3. Gradients are an algorithm that Adobe doesn't handle so well over 8" in any dimension. Depending on the colors you choose, that will determine how many steps are in the gradient. At times, that stepping is really noticeable, sometimes not so much. When creating gradients for print at very large sizes, they sometimes have to be converted to photoshop gradients with some noise added to get rid of the stepping. What looks good at 8" might have noticeable bands of color a 108"...
        Here’s some not so light reading on how the algorithm works and what you can do to mitigate banding

        I particularly like this statement ‘’Using the number of steps calculated in step 3, see if the length of the gradient is larger than the relevant maximum length indicated in the next chart. If it is, reduce the length of the gradient or change the colors.’’
        The chart only goes up to 7.7inches.
        But that doesn’t mean you can’t be successful. Just not with low percentage changes or going from dark to white. Sky blue to white and green to yellow are notorious for banding no matter what you do.

        4. Not familiar with the term photo bashing. But all photos have an owner. Using them for art means you should be getting permission to use them from the owner. Sure, artists use reference photos all the time, but not usually for direct tracing.


        • B
          B commented
          Editing a comment
          It says, ''New to illustration,'' not ''New to Illustrator.'' Besides, it's in the Traditional Illustration forum category. I've been tripped up before by reading what I think is written instead of what is actually written, so I made sure this time around.

      • #5
        Photobashing is a type of digital illustration in which photos/pieces of photos are manipulated together, sometimes along with digital painting, to create a final piece.
        Shop smart. Shop S-Mart.


        • #6
          I read that 3 times and still saw Illustrator. LOL!
          Maybe that's cuz I've been going crazy because of Illustrator....welll....Adobe in general.






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