01/02/2011. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
Digital Fantasy Painting Workshop by Martin McKenna. pub: Ilex. 160 page square-shape illustrated indexed softcover. Price: GBP 17.95 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-904705-37-5).
check out website: www.ilex-press.com
OK, you’re interested in digital art. You’ve seen the digital paintings on the Net and probably in some of the books I’ve been reviewing here over the years and beginning to get the itch to try it out. I’m started to resolve my own itch and got a graphics tablet before the VAT went up but more about that another time although there is a link here that if you’re going to go this route, it’s an essential piece of equipment. It’s the difference of using a mouse like a big crayon and a digital pen that can give you a bit more flexibility and acts more like, well like a pen. It does make me wonder how long it will be before there is a digital pen brush but I guess it depends on how the line is applied to tablet and then you have to watch the screen. Notice how I’m already in the mood for this book.
In this book, ‘Digital Fantasy Painting Workshop’, we have not only tips but demonstrations and explanations from twenty-two different artists, some of which do more than one example, of how they create their digital paintings. One of the most obvious things is that practically all of them drew their layouts and scanned them, greyscale which I hadn’t realised until now, into their computers before working on layers in their art software and building up the coloured paintings. Don’t expect to be an instant artist. The talent and ability to draw and paint just makes going digital another tool to work with. If you can’t do that first, then you will be at a disadvantage.
There is one obvious reason to go digital, you don’t have to wait for the right natural light conditions which you won’t get during the winter for long if at all nor, more importantly have to wait for paint to dry which can speed up both processes. Several artists pointed out here that they finished their digital paintings off in anything up to sixteen hours and I suspect, cos of deadlines, that was also working straight through. Make an added noted that it requires an act of dedication. You can’t shirk at the work but you do need to understand the capabilities of your software so it makes a lot of sense to play around with it and see if you can find the equivalent controls in whatever you’re using. Looking at the software the pros use and checking up on how much it costs is going to put this out of most, including my, budgets. However, kit like PhotoShop, PaintShop and Corel Painter Essentials can be bought on a budget and there are equivalent controls. Indeed, a lot of the pros mix their software for the best tools for the job so don’t see that as an obstacle. The real fun and games comes with the layers because you can do the backgrounds and foregrounds and not have to work around the figures as you would with normal painting. Again, it’s all a matter of technique and it pays to be adaptable.
I should point out that the term ‘fantasy’ is purely descriptive because there is a section devoted to SF art as well as one specifically on creatures that could belong to either genre so there’s plenty of choice here when you are looking at techniques. Then again, in my opinion, art is art and any appreciation is up to personal taste. This book should be treated as something you will read through and then use as a reference guide when you realise you’ve seen a technique you can apply to your own digital artwork which is the whole point of the book in the first place. I doubt if it will stay on your shelf while you’re working.
Although it’s highly likely that all these pros use Macs for their artwork, as the equivalent software exists on the PC, it should have the same capabilities. I suspect I shall be referring to this book in the months to come as I get into the digital habit. That should appeal for getting this book yourself.
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