Friday, May 10, 2013

Question from the blog: Under paintng and under drawing settings

Recently received a question on the blog and I had the opportunity to answer it sooner rather then later. William asks...

"What method (how do you) set up your line drawing so that you can color "under" it, coloring so that the lines are not covered up, if that makes any sense. I see underdrawings used all the time by artist in Imagine FX, but NO ONE describes what settings, masks, layers whatever they do so that they are not painting completely over the image."
First things first...

I STRONGLY STRESS THAT EACH ARTIST FINDS THEIR OWN PATH AND WHAT METHODS WORKS BEST FOR THEM. Simply coping what I do will not necessarily produce the same end product and might not be a good fit for everyone. Trial and error and finding out what works for you and the way you work is the best way to build your skills and abilities. Understanding WHY these setting work and what you can do with them is as important as any other tool and technique in your arsenal. 

With that said, let's get started!

Over the years I have employed various techniques to build up my paintings... with a wide variety of levels of success. Up until a year ago, I fine-tuned a method that was working reasonably well for me. A year ago I was shown how to do it better. Over the last year I have customized this newer process and it is what I use for all my paintings now. I will be showing a side by side comparison of my file hierarchy and settings. But first, lets start with the drawing.

The drawing is very important to my painting process and carries a lot of the weight of my work. I spend a lot of time working out the drawing to insure I have the best starting point. Parts of the drawing are still visible in all my final paintings, but if I have done my job correctly, you will never know it. I have established a process over the years that I apply to all my drawings to get them ready for paint. I have a handy info graphic that walks you through it...

Drawing filtering process.

Now that the drawing is ready I can begin to paint. Again, I have a info graphic that breaks down my paintings and explains each layer. The older process is a lot more straightforward, but requires a lot more work to control color and value - I did learn a lot by using this method and I strongly stress that figuring out the hard way to do something make everything else much easier and more rewarding. My current process allows me to better control value and color and has really sped up my work time. Of course, I don't know how much this speed increase is due to a better understanding of what I am doing versus a change in process. Let's have a look at the breakdown of my files...

 On the left, my old process. On the right, my current process.
The drawing is clearly visible until steps 3 / 6 

With my current process the drawing is completely visible until I begin actively painting with opaque marks at step 6. Unlike my old technique, steps 2 - 5 and building on the drawing and incorporating it more into the under painting. Instead of just a multiply layer of color over the drawing making everything darker with my current build up the drawing begins to take on color and affect what the color and value is doing. This can be seen best here...

 The drawing lives on until you need it to go away...

The layers and settings in the second info graphic should give you more then enough to start moving in the better direction. Simply a multiply layer over the drawing is enough to get you started. Finding out what works for you is the hard part. I went through a lot of trail and error over the years while I figured out what works best for me. Of course... some of that trial and error involved me getting better at what I was doing which required to find better ways to use my tools. Here is another look at the files and layers. The highlighted layer is at which point I began painting opaquely and started covering up the drawing...

Old process layer structure.

Current process later structure.

As you can see, both have about the same number of layers. My current process have more emphasis on the earlier stages of building up the under painting and establishing the value and color. My old process got quicker to the actual painting but then required more layers to adjust what was painted. I like the current version since it allows me a more fleshed out starting point. A stronger beginning allows for a stronger over all piece... IMHO.

I hope this helps, William! If yo have any other questions or needs clarification, just let me know!

That is all for another exciting week on the blog, see you back here on Monday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website:

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting blogpost.

    I am no where near your level of drawing, but I have a tendency to work in layers (GIMP) in ways of:

    1. Sketch skeletn, limbs and stuff. Broad airbrush.
    2. Sketch body structure. Smaller airbrush.
    3. Sketch lines.
    4. Take a hard pencil and draw all the lines.
    5. Duplicate layer, fill in color with bucket. Select all black lines, color in with a darker color adjacent color instead of black.
    6. Layer for Shading, color with black and use opacity to determined darkness.

    Layers for light, texture and special effects are added as I see fit.