My tree bark art looks like noth­ing of the sort – can you help please?

ImagineFX - - Imaginenation Artist Q&A -

Anja Konig, Ger­many

Becca replies

First of all, use both pho­tos of bark and artis­tic ref­er­ences. If you’re only ref­er­enc­ing other art, then you’ll just be mak­ing a copy of a copy. It’s great to use some­one else’s tex­tures to un­der­stand how to cre­ate in a spe­cific style, but the most unique work is in­spired by re­al­ity. You’ll get more ac­cu­rate art this way, and it’s a great ex­er­cise for gen­eral paint­ing prac­tice.

Next, work big to small. Don’t go into de­tails too early. The first trick to fol­low this rule is to stay zoomed out from the can­vas as long as you can. You also want to make sure that you are al­ways us­ing the big­gest brush you can for the task. This is a big time-saver, but also helps to keep your flat colours clean.

Make sure that you fo­cus on form – the shapes cre­ated by the raised bark el­e­ments. Even though this will be 2D art, think­ing about the form of your ma­te­rial is es­sen­tial. Con­sider the di­rec­tion of light, make sure to paint in am­bi­ent oc­clu­sion, and add cast shad­ows when it’s needed. Use light, warm colours to pull the con­vex forms to­wards you, and use dark, cool colours to push con­cave forms into the back­ground. Think of it like you’re sculpt­ing. Use a Hue/Sat­u­ra­tion ad­just­ment layer with Sat­u­ra­tion turned down com­pletely above all of your other lay­ers to make sure forms read well.

The fi­nal bark tex­ture is easy to read and not over­whelmed with in­tense val­ues. By us­ing in­spi­ra­tion from both real life and other artists, it’s be­liev­able and in­ter­est­ing. You can see in th­ese pro­gres­sion im­ages that I work from large de­tail to small de­tail. This is a great way to avoid mud­di­ness.

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