Master study in Procreate
Gavin O’Donnell explains how analysing the work of the Old Masters is a good way to improve your artistic abilities
I wonder what the Old Master artists would make of a digital painting on an iPad? The mind boggles.
As we develop in life, one of the many ways we learn is through the emulation of others. Emulating and studying from successful pieces of art is a way to connect with the thought process, the techniques and choices historical artists made. Through this process we can grow as artists.
The great thing about master studies is that both amateur artists/ illustrators and experienced industry- working professionals can benefit from them. There’s always something new to learn from the Old Masters, whether it’s composition, lighting or even a storytelling technique.
What’s most important while doing these is to be present; it’s very easy to fall into a trap of just mindlessly copying. I made this mistake when I was starting out seven years ago. Ask as many questions as you can while studying from the image, such as: how is the composition designed; why are the shapes arranged in this way; why did the Master use this group of values for this part of the image; or how did the artist draw your eye to the focal point.
Studying the Masters is a great way to improve your skills. However, the real magic is when you apply a new trick or method that you learned from an old painting. By taking this new-found knowledge into your own imaginative work, you’ll really find yourself growing quickly.
1Choosing the right Master
I’d suggest looking for an artist from the past. One thing to be aware of when looking for versions of Master paintings online is that they’re not all accurate to the original. Sometimes the colours might be off or the image isn’t crisp. Do your research to find the best one before committing to an image. I’ve chosen the image Painting of Native American (see left) from one of my favourite artists, NC Wyeth.
2 Setting up Procreate
I use the split screen function on the iPad when doing these studies, putting the study image on the Image Viewer on the right-hand side of the screen as I’m left handed. You’ll also need a couple of different versions of the image in your viewer: one flipped horizontally and another in greyscale.