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Thread: How to blend smoothly using oil brush?

  1. #11
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    Terrific thread. I'm not sure what the AR developers are always intending. But the result seems much in line with Steve's perspective, intended or not. It's the perspective I've found has made it much easier to put the AR tools to good use in a reliable and predictable work flow. I find I completely ignore the names of the tools, and use them, from discovery, for what each actually accomplishes. Somehow, it all works out much better, for me, than any of the other painting programs I've tried. I'm sure this must be a "different strokes for different folks" world when it comes to these things. But Steve's observations, also summed up by Lima's observations, ring true for me - they are a backdrop for how AR has become almost the only digital painting tool I use.
    Last edited by byroncallas; 03-04-2013 at 06:31 AM.
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  2. #12
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    Byron, dear friend, you are right about Steve's clever observations....certainly to keep in mind...I totally agree with your thinking, it worked much the same on my side.

    When forum user drawn asked how to blend smoothly using a digital oil brush ...clearly his intent was to emulate the real thing, and probably show the result to his traditional class teacher and his class mates, maybe!!!???

    As far as his question goes, I would say that painting a smoothly edge transition scale of values in the form of a sphere with a brush is a valuable traditional exercise that gives you confidence in dealing with form, volume and edge values correctly, one of the most important oil painting lessons to learn and practice.If you can control edge transition then you paintings will improve quite significantly. Painting and blending edges on a sphere is not the same thing as blending edges on distinct patchs of colors, it requires time and lot of practicing to learn the methods that work best for you.

    In the digital ArtRage set it is the same, using the brush involves a tricky, boring and time consuming technique (how to digitally blend edges with a brush?) full of undos/redos... The technique is not at all easy and also requires lots of time to learn.

    If drawn reads the posted answers, he will learn that using the digital brush to paint and blend smooth edges in a sphere is not the best choice... the use of the knife is important... and it is not cheating at all. But than, here too, smoothing edges with a knife might not be easy at all. And technical frustration occurs, even to the point of blaming the software for your own technical difficulties. In another thread MattRage calls attention to the stack flow of paint, a very tricky technique that can save the blend. Only repetition will give the necessary experience.

    "From the script you sent earlier, it looks like the blend you're not happy with could be avoided by avoiding overblending 'bad' results back in to good ones, which is primarily caused by the limitations of 8 bit channels which exacerbate even the tiniest imperfection when that imperfection is blended back in to the stack. It's not perfect, but in normal use it doesn't really pop up as a problem, it's only when a slightly darker/lighter/more or less saturated result gets blended repeatedly back in to the paint volume and takes over as the top colour in the volume stack."
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  3. #13
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    Hi Lima, old friend. I think we share a similar perspective.

    It's interesting when we step back and be sensible. Take the AR oil brush. There are a large number of settings that simulate a "real" oil brush.

    But wait! What did I just say? We know that different brands of paint and brands of brushes with the same name will behave differently. The differences, even minor, require the artist to make subtle adjustments with brain and muscles to get the desired effect.

    Yet, there are general principles to learn to accomplish getting a bunch of paint applied to a canvas to appear to look like, for example, a real sphere, regardless of the tool.

    With the AR oil brush, we note a peculiar thing. We can find particular settings and use them to simulate getting a sphere in a way reminiscent of what it is like doing it with any number of different types of real oil brushes and different brands of paint. In fact, we can make adjustments that turn the AR oil brush into a thousand tools of varying sizes, thicknesses, weights, stiffness, etc. With them we can have a thousand mixes of paints and thinners. And we have a pallet of infinite color variations. The AR oil brush is equivalent, then, to purchasing thousands of dollars of different, real brushes that each do different things.

    Yet, we can't paint a proper sphere, if we desire it to be "proper", without understanding the principles and applying them through practice. We can't paint portraits without learning the basic principles for making a face look like a face, whether we use an oil brush, an old rusty nail, a fly swatter, or any of the thousands of settings combinations of an AR digital tool.

    We can say the same for pencils. The single AR pencil is the equivalent to owning several thousand different pencils with different thicknesses, hardnesses, colors, etc. Yet, the AR thousands-of-pencils pencil is no better or worse than a common #2 pencil for drawing a face until we learn universal principles applied through practice, practice, practice.

    I suppose everyone will approach this kind of thing a bit differently. But when I look at AR, and see the name "oil brush", it provides a grounding that, from experience using real oil brushes, says to me, "This AR oil brush is going to give me an output that is somewhat on the order of X." That is darn helpful to know. But after using the AR oil brush I'll learn quickly that, wow, not only will it give me something like X, I can get A, R, D, Q, P, Z, W, K, and T. I'd have to buy a lot of different "real" oil brushes to do that. A little more experimenting and I'll learn that the AR oil brush can do stuff that no group of realoil brushes could ever do. The same is true for all the AR tools.

    Still, I have to take the tools as they are and apply them correctly, through observation and practice, to get an ever expanding cornucopia of desired results.

    After a while, it becomes natural, I think, to stop thinking of the digital tool as an oil brush, or a water color brush or an ink pen, etc., and become familiar with the "what" that the particular digital tool really is, and that the paint program is as a whole. At some point it is just natural to get accustomed to the broad range of outputs possible, and that I can, with practice, practice, practice, intentionally produce at will to achieve visual goals.

    In the beginning we might say "this AR water color brush does not simulate this or that exactly the way I'm accustomed with a real water color brush". It is also true, however, that no water color brush will ever accomplish all the variety that can be accomplished with an AR water color brush or the varying combination of juggled digital tools.

    Yet, there is great value in trying to, as the Ambient guys do, to create a brush that comes as close to what a real water color brush will do, and keep struggling to get ever closer. The benefits of the effort are compounded far beyond those that can have been originally conceived. I am confident that if we interviewed the Ambient team, who have done an incredible job at creating a tool that gets ever closer to mimicking "real tools", they will share that they are astonished how people have used AR in ways that they could not have imagined. That is likely true, too, of the guy who invented the oil brush.

    All that aside, you are dead right. Regardless of the tool, I've got to learn how to apply it. Just like the oil brush allows me to create effects that burnt charcoal could not, so too, digital tools allow us to create effects no oil brush ever will. Still, learning to draw a human body with burnt charcoal is a learning and maturing process that will enrich the competence and experience of anyone engaging in the visual arts. And you can't create a sphere without learning how with the tool you are using. The principles of what makes a sphere look like a sphere on a two-dimensional surface are the same, no matter the tool. The satisfying value is learning the principles and, through observation and practice, learning to apply them to accomplish our artistic purposes however meager or grand. We cannot escape thinking and observation, accompanied by practice, practice, practice. The engagement of thinking and practice in a context of principles is where all the real, personal, fulfillment of discovery and achievement is experienced. That's where the fun is. The particular value of new tools is that they expand the boundaries of what can be accomplished and all the joy people get from accomplishment.

    Anyway, my over-bloated 2 cents of blather. It's fun to engage one of these conversations with you Lima - we haven't for a while, old friend. It's fun to touch these bases.
    // "Appreciation fosters well-being. Be well." - Byron
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    My ArtRage Paintings Here
    // My Comprehensive AR4 & 3 Thread Here
    64 bit Win8Pro, 16GB Ram, Intel i7 Quad Core - 8 threads; Wacom Intuios 4

  4. #14
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    On the note of this topic, and blending with the Oil brush specifically-

    Today I just downloaded Fashmirs Oil Brushes set in the Art Supplies forum. There are some great settings there. One of the things I recognized is that he has a "blender" that is an Oil Brush setting. It's the "Badger Hair Blender". This settings has 100% Pressure, 0% Thinners, and 0% Loading. This allows you to smoothly blend color with the Oil Brush without adding additional color-- as if you had a relatively dry, unloaded brush, and were using it basically to mix together 2 colors and smooth out the transition. It works, IMO, exceptionally well, and doesn't push things around as much as the Blenders do. A great tool for putting down soft edges with your Oil tool.

    Just wanted to share. It's a very simple answer, but seems to give very good results.
    Check out and submit to the thread on Watercolor WIPs in Artrage-- lots of good tips and conversation
    My YouTube video tutorial series- How to Paint with Watercolors in Artrage
    Try out the free
    Artrage Pen-Only Toolbar to improve your workflow and reduce clutter
    List of other good tutorials on using watercolors in Artrage
    List of good sticker sprays for watercolor effects in Artrage

    My blog- art, poetry and picture books- http://www.seamlessexpression.blogspot.com/

  5. #15
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    Steve, thanks. I'm gonna go get those. David always comes up with the best tools.
    Last edited by byroncallas; 03-08-2013 at 05:08 PM.
    // "Appreciation fosters well-being. Be well." - Byron
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    My ArtRage Paintings Here
    // My Comprehensive AR4 & 3 Thread Here
    64 bit Win8Pro, 16GB Ram, Intel i7 Quad Core - 8 threads; Wacom Intuios 4

  6. #16
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    Byron, your ability to interpret these various aspects of the program roll's up. I underline this: "I am confident that if we interviewed the Ambient team, who have done an incredible job at creating a tool that gets ever closer to mimicking "real tools", they will share that they are astonished how people have used AR in ways that they could not have imagined."............the artists!!! incredible artists...

    I was totally hooked by digital form of art when I tried AR2 back in 2008 . I was experimenting with brush strokes of colors images for my wife's chocolate page .

    Brush (oil paint loaded or not) Paint (thinned or not), ability to load the Knife, Paint Tube, the paint pallete and the Color Mixing System are all fascinating AR tools, we all agree on that. It allows for the making of virtual (and Giclee and Canvas) art at a high standart level (Misterpaint, Skechtchism...and others). Paintings having a fine art aspect...smooth oil paintings, glazes, scumbles and also sudden painterly effects, including heavy impasto textures, effects that never before where so easy to accomplish with a digital program, if ever. We can see these great art wonders here in the forum everyday.

    There is no doubt that this software will improve in the future, and many new fancy features will be developed, enriching its painting emulating power. I wish that the ambient team could employ their smart intelligence and a bit of time to further tweak digital oil paint rheology - viscosity (liquidity of the paint) - as dispensed right from the tube paint tool. The thinner as it works of now, just flat thin the paint (IMHO).

    See this small video "Mixing Black" with three paints showing viscous characteristics; Alizarin, Blue and Yellow (Sienna). The black mixture is succesful (verified) by cutting it down to gray with white paint.

    Last edited by Lima; 03-16-2013 at 10:22 AM.

  7. #17
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    continuing..........

    I few years ago I PM DaveRage about this issue, viscosity, and, at that time, I did not get a promising response. But time passes, and old ideas resurfaces, so???

    It seems that the program has oil paint with viscous features. The soft knife tool (pushes around oil paint that shows a viscous draggable aspect)... viscous paint could be dispensed right from the tube paint tool and miscibility among paints could be improved.

    I've made some mixing and blending tests using the soft knife together with non loaded blending knife showing this possibility. The soft knife tool drags the paint which presents a viscous aspect. The problem here is that the draggable paints does not prompt mix and blend very well, and also other odd small things that happens when you mix the paints with the soft knife. So if these factors "mixing" and "blending" are worked out, here's a tool (soft knife) that works with paints showing viscous draggable miscible characteristics.



    Sorry for my english and if I'm totally wrong

    Be weel Byron See this video.

  8. #18
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    An interesting exploration Lima. Sadly, your video displays a notice that it is private (?).

    Exploring your thoughts, the AR knife tool is surely a sophisticated digital manipulator. It allows us, through practice, to discover a seemingly infinite variety of outputs depending on settings applied to a broad range of starting conditions (the previously applied digital paint and its application settings). Like most AR tools, many of these fall in a spectrum that can loosely be described as mimicking real media. Examples: you can blend oil colors and get them more or less right; you can spread three oil colors across the canvas and have them gradate and blend in a beautiful rainbow of color, etc.

    And then, the tool ventures far outside the spectrum. It allows outputs that, while in most cases achievable with real tools of some sort, we would never use the knife to do it in real life. Some other tool or combination of tools, as reviewed in posts above, would be used. The tool being used digitally just happens to be the knife. Example: With bump paints trapped in a select space, the blur-knife tool will render beautiful 3-D shapes subject to the program's lighting features. You can accomplish the same thing in real media. But you would never use something called a blur blender to do it. Similarly, it is true with many of the so-called wet blender features and its wild and wonderful outputs.

    The smudge tool, with a wide range of settings, is phenomenal. You can push seemingly different viscosities of medium and have it retain different rheology (flow-in-time) properties. While the ranges are limited, it is nevertheless impressive. The trick is experimenting within the limitations with what, for artists, eventually become the infinite possibilities - the never anticipated - the leaps beyond the tool's imagined intentions, as well as its routine, reliable results.

    I'm not sure I'm addressing your thoughts. Please redirect me if I'm off base. The itch you seem to wish to scratch is to bring ever more realism to the tactile experience along with predicable, real-world media results. Desirable is a Holy Grail with two objectives: 1) that the output matches a real-life tool with varied real-life mediums and their rheology, and 2) that the physical experience moving the digital tool through the digital medium registers similarly in the senses. This would, logically, be a Holy Grail of a digital tool whose claim is to mimic reality. It feels just like real life. The results are just like real life. [As an aside, I'll suggest that requires as-yet undeveloped hardware, not just software.]

    The technological hurdles are formidable. To achieve a true map on human experience I'd wager is a development process of scores of years and hundreds of millions of dollars. In the interim, of necessity, we settle for the quite impressive incremental achievements. What is developed is what can be currently accomplished with the technology and resources available. It evolves as technology evolves, more resources are available, and, as an interested, paying market demands. The more people who say "I want this" vs. those who say "I want that", will get, after achievability assessments (cost, time, ROI), the most development attention. It's good that we express what we would like.

    The more people who want AR to be able to do this or that, the more likely it will get attention for development inclusion if it is realistically achievable.

    Achievability
    is a critical issue. What does it take to do it? What kind of investment in time, money and talent for what return? I feel confident the talent behind AR has its ear to the ground ever intent to make the product more and more what people want. The restraints will be the usual ones: what is technologically feasible, time, money, and realistic ROI.

    Matt and team of course can weigh in more objectively as the creators of this little wonder called AR. They know what they are talking about and the hurdles they face in making us happy. I'm more or less bumbling about, probably bordering on nonsense.

    I'd love to see your video. Buzz me when you have the fix. Meanwhile, thanks for your always inspired engagements. And let me know if I took this somewhere in left field that had nothing to do with your thoughts. It wouldn't be the first time I missed the boat.
    Last edited by byroncallas; 03-16-2013 at 04:03 PM. Reason: spellign
    // "Appreciation fosters well-being. Be well." - Byron
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    My ArtRage Paintings Here
    // My Comprehensive AR4 & 3 Thread Here
    64 bit Win8Pro, 16GB Ram, Intel i7 Quad Core - 8 threads; Wacom Intuios 4

  9. #19
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    Hi Byron, fixed the video and here is another correlated video.


  10. #20
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    and still another one...



    Please, watch the movies

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