With another year coming to an end, I took some time to go through my work and think about where I'm at. I’ve moved a few times last several years. I always take with me my trusted Wacom tablet, and I leave behind piles of traditional works. I remember when I was just starting with digital illustration, I encountered a lot of little things that challenged me. I was overwhelmed with work on the one hand, and constantly trying to watch tutorials on digital illustration, on the other hand. I learned a lot of things, picked up some good advice, and as much as you think you know, you can always learn more. I'm sure many aspiring artists went through the same thing.
But then, there comes a time to stop and remember your "initial self". To think about what moves you, what your way of telling things is, and to take a more personal path. With all the pressure, it's easy to lose connection with your inner voice. And while we can't stay isolated from influences, there are certain things we can do to keep ourselves on track. For me, that involved:
1. Stopped looking at anything related to art processes for almost a year (except finished work of artists I follow);
2. Exchanging the time spent on above mentioned with immersing myself in books;
3. Allowing myself to travel more, without taking my work with me;
4. And the most important, I went back to traditional canvas and brush. And this is where I found a solution to the issue I want to address next:
BALANCING OUT BRUSHSTROKES, AKA. BRUSH ECONOMY
One of my biggest problems was connecting my traditional and natural marks with my digital work. I used to zoom in way too much, stay there and over render things. While it looked great in that size, it was far from what I wanted it to look as the whole, zoomed out image. Then I realized that it has been a couple of years without using my actual traditional medium. So, I decided it was time to take a step back and grab a real canvas. And that is where I found out what I need to do in order to achieve that look that I have in my traditional paintings. So, if you guys have a similar problem, I'll share the way I handled it. If want to try it out, here's what you should do:
1. Get a canvas and start rolling. No canvas - no problem. Get some cardboard and prep it accordingly. If you don't have much time on your hands, use small size, that way you can finish in few hours.
2. If you feel intimidated by oils or its drying time - grab a fast drying medium. If not - acrylics are your next best friend, drying time is super-fast and you can achieve that look similar to oils. So no excuses, once again.
3. Limit your palette.
4. Most important thing for this exercise - limit your brush sizes to only a few.
5. If you fail, rinse and repeat. You don't have to show it to anyone if you don't want to. So, loosen up a bit.
6. Apply what you did in traditional to your digital painting.
This is what I did: I stopped zooming in all the way, because I really don't use magnifying glass when I paint traditionally. I zoom in focal points, but the rest is kept loose. I keep my brush size limited, to avoid that over rendered feeling. I try to follow the form by carefully placing brushstrokes. And I am still working on that balance. I hope you'll find this helpful, and I'm aware that what worked for me might not work for you. So, I also encourage you to trust your gut more.
We all know it's not about what brush you use, but how you use it, it's what comes from your mind and hand. But there are some really good brush sets to try out, for that extra kick ;)
Bastien Lecouffe Deharme OIL BRUSH Set (Photoshop CC)
Greg Rutkowski Oil Brushes