I admit it: I draw characters and nuthin‘ but characters.
So I’ve been giving myself a bit of challenge lately, to step outside my comfort zone and paint more landscapes and atmospheric images. I’ve always shied away from landscapes, knowing just how hard it is to get the perspective down and do give a true sense of depth. Colour theory and mixing is what I consider to be my main weakness, followed closely by the Design Monster, and landscapes are all about colour. Getting those far away mountains to look like they’re in the distance requires some cunning trickery, and I’m learning that photoshop has some wonderful tools to enable me to really push and pull areas of my paintings by employing a couple great tricks.
First of all, the magic of adjustment layers cannot be overstated. So I’ll say it again: the magic of adjustment layers cannot by overstated! If you don’t know what that is, look it up on the net, and familiarize yourself with them. I personally use the Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer the most, and work its mask to make whatever I want recede into the cool, desaturated background, or jump out in foreground with warm, saturated colours. Using a large, very feathery brush to work the mask is key. Reserve your small detail brushes til the very end. And to push your shadows or highlights to emphasize your focal point, again create another adjustment layer, employing all of the same tactics.
Finally, don’t forget to flatten your image when you’re happy with how everything’s looking, and paint over it all with a crisp, small brush to really make things ‘pop’. There’s nothing better than seeing brush strokes in a final piece, at least to me, and adjustment layers can unfortunately really mute all your work, so spend the last few minutes breathing life back into your painting with that crisp brush.
The drawing I did started out as nothing more than completely haphazard brush strokes, which slowly grew into a scene. A few more brushstokes, and hey!, there was a ship. Now what’s a ship doing in the middle of brushstroke nowhere, unless it’s out hunting dragons? (Can you say cliche? Because I can, and just did.) So I dropped in a dragon, then thought it’d be funny to have him holding up a dartboard as his shield. I can just hear him in a growly, yet girly, Dragon voice saying: ‘Bullseye!’ to those poor little sailors. Cannonballs would sort of be like darts to a dragon, no?
My wife didn’t think the drawing was funny. Bah, humbug.
But I’m glad I’m starting to challenge myself by doing these landscapey paintings- it’s just one more skill in the arsenal. This one took me about 3 hours. I’ve also put up two versions that I played around with before settling on a colour scheme I liked, as well as two close ups to show you how messy and painterly I enjoy working. As long as the overall values are there, then I’m realizing it truly doesn’t matter how ‘messy’ you are!
Enjoy getting messy!