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In a challenge to myself, I started a copy of some jungle reference, but I'm getting overwhelmed by all of the values in the picture. My background is coming out a mess of grey. Does anyone have advice on simplifying for painting, or how I should continue this piece? Here's my image with the reference.
You can group all the values in your reference pic into two groups: a bright background and a dark foreground. Both the foreground and background are going to have "light" and "shadow" areas--so you want to find those four basic values that will convey the space of the image accurately.
Also, I'd suggest you slow down look A LOT more carefully at the edges and contours of the forms you're trying to copy. Right now you're just sort of gobbing down lines and tone that only vaguely approximate what's in your reference photo. You might have an easier time if you use an actual graphite pencil--a Wacom tablet just has a kind of squishiness to it that isn't well suited to precise linework.
Use much much higher opacity. Start by drawing the image out, making sure that the large important shapes and structures are sound (in terms of proportion and perspective), then lay simple values on top. Try limiting yourself to 3-5 values to start with.
I also think it would be better for you to work on simpler images at this stage and focus on accuracy over complexity.
Actually you should start with something easier. This reference can't be used without understanding where it fails. The colors are obviously manipulated and show no indication of depth, same goes for the contrast, resulting in big confusion. Make a thumbnail of this and reduze the detail level and you'll see what I mean (thumpnails below). Instead I've been making another thumpnail based on the reference, however I've instead added depth through color and contrast:
See, photos work different than paintings. It's quite common that things that make photos look "good" is also what makes paintings look "bad". I guess this is because, photographs always look "real" and adding something making it look surreal or dreamy (like changing colors etc.) adds to the athmosphere. However paintings are judged by realism, and they wont benefit from those things, they are merely recognized as "mistakes".
Last edited by Swamp Thing; February 20th, 2013 at 03:01 PM.
I get the general consensus that I should go simpler, slower, and concentrate on accuracy. I picked a clearing this time and started with pencil. Here's the sketch with reference. Should I paint over this?
You are picking terrible references for a beginner. I'd start with some simple object studies or something with high contrast values.
Sketchbook - http://conceptart.org/forums/showthr...=1#post2697831
Blog...(Updated more regularly!)
Looking good...your new sketch is about a million times better than your first one. Don't forget to group, simplify and exaggerate areas of dark and light in order to separate the foreground from the background and create a sense of space. Sloppy JPEG below.
Good start. However, you really really really really need to pull the darkest values in the background up a lot. Those dark distant tree trunks are really flattening the picture out.
Just FYI--I like your pencil (charcoal?) drawing at comment #5 a LOT better than the finish at #12. The mark-making in the sketch is very engaging, but the digitally-painted final feels really squishy and indistinct and generic.
There's nothing intrinsically "wrong" with using a tablet--but you need to address the fact that marks made with a digital stylus tend to have far less character than marks made with an actual pencil....rendering leaves IS suffering, especially when you use a clumsy and inaccurate tool like a Wacom tablet to do it.
Just my two cents.
Yeah I got that feeling as a made my way through this project. Honestly, this is the first time I'm really using the tablet, I was taught completely traditionally. It's easier for me to make pleasing marks in pencil than in digital. I used a hard round brush for the entire image, is there ways I can manipulate the shape to make it more "natural"?
At this point you should mainly care for values and composition, the brushwork can't rescue a painting. You should start in thumbnail form and work out values by blocking them in. Also I don't think that your new refrence is anywhere close to how I imagine a jungle. It's also quite boring, there's not really any focal point or anything. Planning is a big part of every artwork, finding a working refrence and analyzing it, then making thumpnails and value/color studies.
It'd be better to practice with much simpler images for start. Your perception is not yet trained to see values correctly. Images with a lot high frequency detail like abundant vegetation are confusing you into seeing value changes that are not there.
Try to do a couple of simple landscapes first, with large areas of constant value and good contrast between those areas.
To focus your attention on what is important, convert them to black and white and apply a several pixels median filter to nullify the detail.
The goal is to learn to look at you reference in a way similar to how median filter "sees" it, and transfer that to your drawing.
You're getting better. You're still not very confident with your strokes and again I don't think your choice of reference is helping, you seem to be picking very chaotic, claustrophobic reference images that have little definite range in value. You need images that have a fore, middle & back ground. I know you're trying to create a jungle background but I think you should do some simple landscape practice before branching off into doing a jungle piece.
It was difficult finding jungle images that weren't filled with trees (obviously) but I tried:
And just some images you might want to use as additional practice, that aren't jungles:
Your values are a little too neutral, you need darker & lighter values. Image above from left to right shows your version, the ref photo in black & white, that ref photo blurred and then my real quick paint over of your version with the wider range of values. As you can see on the blurred image which shows the values the best I think because it allows you to see the general overall value and ignore little details. The foreground is the darkest, values get lighter the further away they are and then the sky is the lightest. Use bigger brushes & keep the opacity higher while blocking in values. Quickly looking through the other posts, it seems like LaCans post was very helpful and is basically what I've just done, except LaCan's is way better, check that post out again.
Also, for the finished painting on post#21...it looks good, but like with this one except not as bad I don't think is the range of values. Judging from the ref photo the foreground should be alot darker, especially the left side with the trees.
Get outside. Go out your door. Trying to develop any understanding of environments (which again, are right outside) using photos on a computer is a waste of time. Sorry...but it is.
Not sure why, I get wary of pushing darks. Did it again, pushed the darks.
I do draw from life, I'm just trying to figure out the tablet. But thank you, I agree as well.
Drawing from life is great obviously, but not everyone lives by wood and tree areas and even if you do, it's not always safe. Looking better.
If you want to try pushing your lights and darks, try working in black and white for a change. When you have black, white, and maybe two kinds of gray made via hatching, you will quickly notice which reference photos don't have enough variety to be interesting and which ones will take you 20 hours to hatch because they're a uniform mass of grays.