Planning Acrylic Paintings Digitally - Part 1 - Technophobe?
I'm sure that many people think I'm a technophobe.
So why do I plan my acrylic paintings digitally?
In this post, I'll look into the reason for this strange phenomenon. In part 2, the process of planning digitally will be explored. Finally, part 3 we'll look at the pros and cons of this process.
It took me a long time to acquire any type of device with access to the internet. I can remember watching an episode of Gamesmaster in the 90s where Dominic Diamond had the challenge of finding five interesting things on the internet. He struggled intensely to do this. So I didn't bother with the internet for a long time.
I need to digress for a little while now and talk about my favourite author. You'll see why eventually. I grew up loving books by F. Paul Wilson: The Keep, The Tomb, The Touch, etc. I would get them from our local library and devour them. I read six books by him and then that was it. He seemed to disappear. The library never got any more F. books (as they are affectionately known). Book shops started to appear on the high street and yet they never had any F. books either. I thought he'd given up writing. Or died. Or maybe even a combination of the two.
Then one Christmas, my brother gave me a present. It was a new F. book called Legacies. I was giddy, to say the least. I couldn't believe that my brother had tracked down this delight. He explained that he had bought it from a website called Amazon and there were a lot more F. books on there.
I bought a computer soon after.
It also took me ages to buy a digital camera. I couldn't see the point of buying something that took worse quality photos. I was happy with my traditional film camera. Eventually, the quality improved and editing software appeared that looked amazing to someone with a creative leaning like myself. It was time for me to purchase a digital camera.
The final nail in the coffin of me looking like a Luddite Technophobe is my severe lack of a smartphone. I'll go into this in a huge amount of detail at some point because painting #6 in the Guardians series is all about this subject. I'll sum up my dislike of smartphones for you; for a device that is touted as being the pinnacle of socialness, they are used in the most antisocial of ways. I believe how they are used is making people more anxious, depressed, and isolated.
Not great for someone who has suffered from anxiety, depression, and self-isolation then.
You're probably thinking that I am a technophobe. Case closed.
Here we have the case for the defence then.
I own a huge telly, a blu-ray player, an amp, and a surround sound system. I love films and I love seeing films as they were intended with great picture and sound quality. This is fantastic technology for me. Being a minimalist, I was intrigued by the proposition of streaming films. I could have the great picture and sound quality that I love without having space taken up in my home by physical media.
So I tried Netflix, the leading name in streaming films.
I was so disappointed. In about three weeks, I managed to watch the thirteen films that I was vaguely interested in. Then I cancelled it. I love old films from the 40s, 50s, and 60s. Netflix does not cater to me. Plus I put a film on my watchlist only to find two weeks down the line that it had been removed from the service. For me, this is a terrible, terrible service. So I'll be holding on to my collection of DVDs and Blu-rays for a while yet. I do hope a service comes along that caters to me although I'm not sure it ever will.
When I was young, we owned an Atari 2600. From then onwards I was hooked on videogames. I owned a C64, a Gameboy, an Amiga, a PS1, a Gameboy Advance, a PS2, an Xbox 360, and a PS3. That's a lot of time I spent on games. I was swept away with every new console release. The promise of shiny new graphics and gameplay had me drooling.
Over time, as games became big business, companies started to take fewer risks to the point that virtually every game was either a football game, a First Person Shooter, or a driving game. I had become a jaded gamer. I'm not interested in how realistic the shadows on PS5 are if the games are just a retread of what I've already played. Add to this the toxic environment that playing over the internet is and I'm done with videogames.
You may be starting to see a pattern emerge here. I love technology when I see a point to it, when I find it useful or entertaining. I don't worship the God of Technology. I can look at technology from a distance and see whether it would benefit me or not. It's me who decides that, not the advertisers, and not peer pressure.
Finally, we're getting to the point of the post. Phew!
Why would a technophobe plan acrylic paintings digitally then?
A. I'm not a complete technophobe.
B. I can see the benefits of using the technology.
I mainly use three different apps to create my plans. Let's look at them in the order I generally use them:
1. ZBrush - This is a beast of an app. To say it has a steep learning curve is an understatement. It is a 3D modelling program that is not for the faint of heart. I went into it with no previous experience of 3D modelling and it has been a challenge. I am by no means a master of ZBrush - not even vaguely close - but I can use it to create characters and environments that are perfect for my purposes.
2. Keyshot - I import all of my models from ZBrush into Keyshot and it's there that I assign materials and light the models exactly how I want them. This is another app that is difficult to learn but it is powerful. I produce numerous renders with different lighting set-ups all ready for importing into the final app.
3. Photoshop - Yet another powerful app that is the easiest of the three to use, but it's still a little tricky to get to grips with. I use this to composite all of the renders from Keyshot, selecting the aspects I like from each. It also allows me to play around with the composition too.
This has been a very basic look at the three apps and how they are used. But hopefully, you should get the idea. And hopefully, you can see the benefits of this stunning technology. Here are some paintings that have been planned in this way:
In the next post, I'll go into the process of planning an acrylic painting digitally in more depth and I'll show you some more examples.
After all of that lovely use of technology, let's look at something stupid. Neck problems anyone?
See you next time!