Sorry if this has been posted before, I'm not on the forums much.
I work in photoshop CS5.
One of the things I struggle with is painting cities, I'm comfortable with environments, especially more organic ones, because there is more room for insinuation and loose strokes. But from some reason I can figure out how to render a convincing city, and I love cities, and city scenes, so I feel this hinders my imagination.
I get matte painting or adding photo elements to concepts to build cities, but I see (or at least think I see) cities rendered by other artists with traditional hand painting. This I don't completely understand, especially since all I can imagine to make straight lines is the lasso tool, line tool, or holding shift. I do feel like this would be much easier to do by hand and scan in because I could just use a ruler. Is there something I'm missing? or some techniques or brushes or buttons or third party programs I don't know about?
Any help would be much appreciated
I had similar problem man, hell I still like to paint organic scenes more then urban ones.
But I guess that you have to realize that it's all about abstract shapes, no matter what you are painting. Cities are only different because lot of times you have to make shapes geometric instead of loose and organic. And that takes little more precision.
What is a city? What makes it functional? Sidewalks, roads, buildings, light posts, garbage cans, cars, newspaper stands, dumpsters, alley ways, loading docks, HVACS, pylons, antennas, wiring...
Honestly it's easier said than done... The way I would tackle it would be to do a top down view of just squares and boxes to lay out the functionality of the city. From there you can make straight on paintings of building silhouettes and throwing them into perspective using the transform tool. Making each building individually and giving it as much attention (in terms of functionality, not detail) as everything else will help sell the believability. Try using some 3D programs too to help with composition and shot set up and if you really want to go the extra mile you can throw in some lighting to make it all come together.
A common process that I find simple to use when tackling hard surface concepting is using a 100% round no opacity or flow jitter brush to create my shapes and design. Once I get the object to where I want I throw a layer on top of it all and brush on lighting, this process helps immensely on focusing on function and design first. Lighting is usually done at the end and takes just as much time in my opinion... Occluding shadows, cast shadows, bounce light, glass reflection and specularity etc etc...
The post above mine was going along something similar to what I was thinking to suggest. Perhaps its like character/vehicle design? Some artists just take the paint tool, set it to black, and create just a complete silhouette. This helps creating an interesting shape, and once you pick one you like best you move on to shade, lighting and colour. Perhaps cityscapes aren't that different? Create a solid silhouette of a line of buildings to nail down the composition. Then add the lighting and perspective and go from there. This also depends on the type of cityscape you're doing I'm sure, it would be more effective if it was a city strip, but you never know.
Anywho, this is what I've gathered from these posts and my own inklings. I'm much in the same position you are and I hope we both can learn something here! Thanks for the wonderful question.