How can I recreate the look of traditional media in my digital fantasy art?
Adam Martin, England
Photoshop’s Mixer Brush does a pretty good job of simulating oils and pastels. I think it works best as a blender, with the settings at Moist, 5 per cent Load, 50 per cent Mix and 100 per cent Flow. It’s really a tool that you’ll have to play with a lot to find your preference, because it works in so many different ways. I like to use the Fan and Blunt-Round blenders: try some of the presets to see what works for you.
I start by using a standard textured brush to lay down my tones and flat areas of colour, then blend them with the Mixer brush. You can do this with a photo to make it look like an oil painting. I almost always select the Clean After Each Stroke option to prevent my colours from becoming muddy. When blending, especially flesh tones, try to blend along the contours of each shape. So for arms and fingers I always try to stroke transversely around the form instead of down its length.
When approaching vegetation, think of it as layers building up. It will take multiple layers and a bit of patience, but the end result will be effective and easy to alter if you’re not happy with something.
I want to introduce a method where you can achieve the same accurate effect by simple steps of what I call ‘ indicating’. In other words, this is a time-effective way of painting the vegetation without becoming bogged down in the details. There’ll be times when you’ll make the mistake of adding details on to already established details that either don’t improve the image or even make it worse. So I want to break down my approach to painting effectivelooking vegetation into three simple steps.
The first is the base, which I treat it as a gradient made up of the soil of your vegetation. Next is the core, where I introduce the bulk of the plants and show the viewer what this vegetation is mostly made up of. Finally there’s the detailing stage, which is my chance to touch up and pick out a couple of areas to show a clear, sharp indication of what the whole plant consists of.
I try to avoid mixing the colours too much. For this character I want a rough, painterly look rather than a smooth, airbrushed style. I’ve added vegetation to this earlier piece that I’ve revisited, to improve the scene. I want to create dangling vegetation around the platform’s edges. Your blending strokes should follow the contour of the figure’s forms. Use a back-and-forth motion to keep from pushing colour too far in one direction.