Creating Stylised Planets in ZBrush Part 1

And so it is time for me to start planning a new painting. The blank page is staring me in the face and goading me. Laughing at me. I want to paint something about the effect that leaving teaching had on my mental health. I didn't realise at the time how much teaching was hurting me. It was only when I left that a huge weight was lifted. The children I taught were all fantastic. It was a pleasure teaching them. The problem was the endless amount of work that had to be done that was only tenuously connected to the children. But I won't go off on a rant. I went through my usual free association phase - see video below - and the two main things that came up were "time" and "peace". These words

The Final Reveal of my New Painting

Many moons ago I started planning this painting using ZBrush, something that I hadn't tried before, and now it's finally finished. In this video, I'll show you the final stages of the painting process and then reveal the finished image. The question that I asked myself at the end of this process was: Would I use ZBrush to plan another painting? The answer is yes. I think learning it was worth it despite it taking a long time for me to get to grips with it. While I was painting the image, I intimately knew the shapes and it actually felt like I was painting a 3-D sculpture. So yes, I will be giving it another go with my next painting which I will be starting very soon! For the start of this p

How to Mix Greys in Acrylics

This is easily my favourite aspect of colour mixing as you can tell from many of my paintings: Colour mixing greys with this level of subtly takes a steady hand. All of the greys in these paintings were mixed from three primary colours so the greys have a slight colour cast to them. In this video, I'll give you the skills that you need to mix and modify your greys in incredibly subtle ways. So if you fancy throwing away that Payne's Grey and mix your own colourful greys then watch the video above. See you next time!

How to Mix Realistic Colours

In my recent post in this series, I looked at how to mix bright and vibrant colours by using a split primary palette. Today I'm going to go the opposite way and look at how to dirty up your colours so that look a lot more realistic. Colours in real life aren't generally perfectly bright and vibrant, they are at least slightly muted. So in this video I focus on mixing what are called broken colours. It is where colour mixing really gets fun. Well, I think it does any way... If you've been following along with this series, this instalment is where you will go from being a beginner in colour mixing to a fully qualified intermediate. It certainly gets a bit trickier and you will have to have a s

My Studio Tour

In this video, I will show you around my studio where I create all of my paintings. You'll get to see where I paint and where I store my painting materials. You'll also see my computer set up that I use for planning my paintings. As an aside, I'll show you some choice offerings from my film collection and also from my board game collection. Hope you enjoy the tour!

How to Mix Bright and Vibrant Colours

Being an artist, one of the questions that I constantly get asked is: Can I mix any colour from the three primary colours, red, yellow and blue? The answer is yes. No. Sort of. You can mix a version of every colour. So you can mix a purple, an orange etc but you won't be able to mix every purple and orange. In fact, the colours you mix might even be a tad on the muddy side. With any set of three primary colours you will be able to mix one secondary colour that is bright and vibrant, one that is slightly muddy and another that is very muddy. The question is then: How many pots of paint do I need so that I can mix bright vibrant versions of all three of the secondary colours? The answer comes

Hue, Saturation and Value for Artists

Controlling hue, saturation and value is one of the fundamental issues that artists have to deal with. But what are they? Watch the video above for definitions of the three terms. You'll also get to see them used on my new painting. Watch how I manipulate the three variables to achieve certain results. They are invaluable in creating depth in paintings and also in directing the viewer's attention to your focal point. Combine this with a knowledge of colour mixing - you can read about my colour mixing series by Clicking Here - and you'll have given yourself some fantastic art tools. Not only are these skills applicable to traditional media but can also be applied to digital works too. Knowing

Art Rules and How to Break Them

Art rules are a great place for beginners to start. They provide a proven structure for producing good results. Many times when creating a painting you have to find the rules of the painting too. It's the same with designing a creature. What are the rules that I'm sticking to? This gives the design and the painting an overall coherence. But it can also make it slightly bland. The trick is to break the rules, sometimes dramatically or sometimes subtly, but break them nonetheless. My favourite parts of paintings are generally those odd little surprising bits of colour that you wouldn't expect to find. I did this more subtly in my painting by mixing my colours slightly differently in certain ar

How to Stop Being a Perfectionist

In this video, I look at the beginning stages of the creation of my new painting and also discuss how to stop being a perfectionist, something that I suffer from quite a bit. For eighteen years I worked as an infant teacher. Being a teacher is not a great job for a perfectionist because you can never reach perfection. You can work and work (and work!) and still be disappointingly far away from perfection. At the end of the year, I didn't congratulate myself on my successes, I berated myself for anything that had gone wrong, however slightly. Eventually this constant drive for perfection burnt me out and I had to leave teaching. Since becoming an artist, I've found perfectionism rearing its u

Mixing Browns in Acrylic Paints

Mixing browns might not sound like the sexiest subject for colour mixing but it is the foundation of pretty much all colour mixing. You're either trying to mix brown or trying to avoid mixing brown. The lovely thing about browns is that that they can be very subtle. The ability to mix browns can just take the edge off certain colours if they are way too saturated. The skill of mixing browns is essential for mixing colours that look realistic too but there will be more on that in a future post. All of these skills come from a basic knowledge of the colour wheel. But mastering the skills takes a lot of practise. To find out more, watch the video above. See you next time!

Planning an Acrylic Painting in ZBrush Part 4

In this video, I finish off my plan using Keyshot and Photoshop. At the start I thought I would be able to render all of my sculptures in ZBrush, adding different materials and lighting. If I was doing something simple that would be possible. But I never go for simple. I wanted glass as part of my sculpture. I wanted lights being built into the sculpture. I wanted realistic reflections from one object to another. ZBrush can't really do this. It is more a 2.5 renderer than a full 3-D renderer. I needed Keyshot. Keyshot takes the sculpture from ZBrush and allows me to change the materials including transparent materials, translucent materials and also light materials. That's not light as in th

Planning an Acrylic Painting in ZBrush Part 3

Finally things are starting to take shape. In this video, I get some colour on to the sculpture. And it was fun. While ZBrush isn't the most extensive painting app, putting some colour on to a sculpture is extremely satisfying. This is where I was able to see the possibilities of planning an acrylic painting in ZBrush. Just moving the camera around the sculpture is excellent to look at different compositions. What would take ages on paper is done in the flick of a mouse. That's not to say that designing on paper doesn't have its uses too. With my level of ZBrush skill, I would say that paper would be a quicker option at the moment, but I have to learn it at some point. So watch the video to

Planning an Acrylic Painting in ZBrush Part 2

In this video, I continue to plan an acrylic painting in ZBrush. I think that this is the moment where I realise that I may have bitten off more than I can chew. What I thought was a simple creature design is actually a bit of a nightmare to create in ZBrush. Moving around separate elements and lining them up in 3-D space is challenging to say the least. I'm also wondering whether the amount of detail I'm putting into the plan will show up in the final painting. This is something that I'm not too bothered about because part of the idea of me doing this is to learn how to use ZBrush. And this project is certainly forcing me to do that. At least I've pretty much got the sculpting done and next

Planning an Acrylic Painting in ZBrush Part 1

Last week I talked about doing something scary. Well, I'm going to continue scaring myself now as I attempt to plan my next acrylic painting using ZBrush. I like things to be user friendly. I like things to do what I expect them to do. ZBrush is a mixed bag in this respect. There are certain functions, like the ability to sculpt symmetrically, that work like a dream and make the whole process a lot easier. But then there are other aspects that really don't behave how you would expect. Digital clay. That's what I was expecting. Sometimes it behaves like that. And at other times it glitches and behaves like a lump of pixellated ones and zeros. So ZBrush is far from perfect. This video is me ge

Do Something That Scares You

Why is it important to do something that scares you, especially when you're trying to learn a new skill? If you do something scary you will learn a lot faster, that's why. Sticking within your comfort zone will allow you to practise old skills, but you're not going to learn a lot of new things from it. Going to the other extreme and trying something terrifying could leave you disillusioned and put you off trying anything different ever again. But if you go for something that is in the scary zone but it still seems possible then you're are going to learn incredibly quickly. This is what I tried when I started using the digital sculpting app ZBrush. I had gone from never having used anything l

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