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Thread: Novice seeks advice...

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Cape Town, South Africa.

    Novice seeks advice...

    This is a very warm and supportive group, and I feel privileged to be a part of it and to be learning along the way.

    Due to the generosity of more skilled artists here than myself I am becoming more aware of things like the usefulness of layers etc.
    Most everything I have done has begun (and died ops: ) in one layer.

    I am about to begin a new painting and need some practical advice here... How to begin? Should I start with the furthermost background as layer one I wonder? .. and then creep forwards in a succession of layers?

    I am hoping for a little insight here to get me up and running. I am a bit discouraged atm by all my failed attempts along the way, and wondered if any of you would point me in a more savvy direction?

    All suggestions greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Many painters paint dark to light, i.e., starting with the darkest parts of the pictures and continuing on through to the lightest.

    If you are familiar with Photoshop at all, this should help. Paint on layers. Maybe put the background on one layer, the next object on the next, etc. The advantage to doing this is that you can go back in and change each layer without affecting the balance of the painting.
    Crazy in Wisconsin

  3. #3
    Use of layers I expect varies a lot with individual technique and style; just experiment with them. Play. One of the most fun things in ArtRage I think is satisfaction from discovering a new approach that works for you.
    I don't know if this will be at all useful but what I do is build up a sketch by progressing through layers.

    layer0 = the white opaque background there when ArtRage start. I leave it blank.
    layer1 = created using 'cel' preset, which has 0% opacity in paper settings. Loose sketch goes on this. Basically just positioning the figure I'm drawing.
    When done I reduce its opacity to about 50% which gives faint gray lines on white background.
    layer2 = again 'cel' preset. More details here. Muscle masses are penciled in. Proportions tightened up and changes made as necessary.
    layer3+ = more details. It's easier to put things like face, hands, hair on separate layers. For example when drawing a lock of hair falling over character's eyes and it's messed up, it's easier to erase it when on different layer, rather than dab and poke with eraser and probably mess up eyes anyway.
    When done here I turn off layer1, reduce layer2-3 and any more to 50% opacity which gives me detailed faint gray lines on white background.
    layer5 = final pass over picture. Since details up to eyelashes have already been filled in this is just laying smooth lines down over everything. Like inking pencil sketch but with undo button and other good options.

    This is just black and white line work for comics. Coloring and so on enters picture later. But I think the approach carries over to other techniques. Hope it helps!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Cape Town, South Africa.
    Fenraven, thank you for your reply. I am not that familiar with Photoshop yet or even ArtRage at this point... but I am here to learn and I am facinated by it all!

    Orangeish, thank you so much
    This is exactly what I was hoping for. I needed step by step help and am absolutely enthralled by your unique approach. I hadn't been able to figure out what one would use the cell preset for, let alone varying the paper opacity. ArtRage is the first arty software I have owned and so things that seem fairly obvious to others are not so to me.

  5. #5
    Rowena, you are very welcome, I'm glad that helped.

    Please note grain/roughness/scale/opacity/metal/color adjustments in 'paper settings' which can be set individually for each layer. Cel is good for me only because I want perfect smooth line without grain; but it is limiting for actually using paint because there grain helps blending. You needn't limit yourself to cel; choose other presets/grains but set opacity to 0%.
    In this case opacity refers only to the actual 'sheet of paper' composing layer. Anything you draw/paint on it will be visible and showing the paper grain and other effects.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Good tips by Orangeish.
    One thing that I have learned and would like to add is that your choice of background color for layer 0 is important. Like if you were to by some paper. I use white/mid gray/black.

    Sometimes I use a quick layer 1 to add some basic background colors. I have had some trouble with the colors 'changing'. That is if I do the object in focus first - say a yellow flower - then when I get to the background - the yellow seems to change.
    Happy DoodLS

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    New Zealand
    It's really interesting to see the different ways people approach creating their artwork.And although I have several art/graphics programmes,I think Artrage has a unique style,that reflects what you would and could do with real paint and canvas.I also feel that the sort of art you wish to create will influence the way you use Artrage...mostly I start with a canvas of the colour that will be allied to the background colour of the scene I have in mind.I use the pencil tool to sketch in the rough outlines,no need to be too exact,more a matter for me of getting the proportions right...Then on a new layer,I start filling in the detail,adding new layers,when I am happy with something,and don't want to mess it up.I use the palette knife and zooming to 200% to smooth out messy bits.Hope this makes sense...keep experimenting,there is no "right' way to do it!All the best from New Zealand

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    There's been some great advice so far, especially Orangish's "experiment with them." I find that when I figure out a new technique that I can use with the tool I walk around the whole day smiling. There are great rewards to find in ArtRage.

    It sounds like the art style you're going for is different than the one I am, so my advice won't directly apply. But it never hurts to get lots of examples to guide your experimenting.

    I do comic style art. The general "rule" for comic art is that it can live with and without color. So you draw black lines that relay enough information that the image makes sense even if you don't color it. Then, when you color it, it looks even better. With many comic artists, the lines and the colors are done by different people.

    I start with 0% roughness paper. I like the clean lines.
    I never draw on the bottom layer. I do everything in layers above it.

    In the highest layer I sketch the image in pencil. In artrage we have perfect erasers and undo, so this isn't strictly necessary, the way it is on paper. But I like doing it this way.

    In the next layer down I go over the pencil in black "ink." I use the felt tip pen in "Art Pen" mode, set to black and down at 10 - 25% size.

    One of the coolest aspects of layers is that you can click the eyeball icon on them to hide and re-show them. I usually turn off the pencil layer after I've done the ink, but I sometimes turn it back on to see what I was planning while sketching.

    I then add a layer below the ink layer. In this I do solid fills of all of the areas of the picture. I'm still working on improving my technique for this, but what I do is use the crayon tool set to 100% pressure. Usually that makes a solid color with one or two passes. I zoom way in and set the tool size extremely small (sometimes all the way down to 1%). Then I carefully draw along the borders of the black lines. Because the ink layer is higher up, you can't cover the lines, even if you accidentally touch them, which is exactly what I want. However, if I go over the line too much (hit the other side) I either undo or erase the errant colored line.

    After I've carefully colored along the inside of the lines, I increase the crayon tool size and quickly fill the rest of the section in.

    At this point I've got 4 layers, an empty bottom layer, a color layer, a black line layer, and a pencil layer. The image, however, doesn't look right, because the colors are solid.

    I then create a new layer that's between the ink and the solid color. For every solid color, I make two more. I take the solid color, go to the color picker, and slide the slider up to make a lighter tone (I save that color in the Color Samples Panel). Then I slide the slider down to make a darker tone and save it as well.

    I then use the crayon on 50% pressure and varying sizes to add the lighter and darker areas to the image (giving it the appropriate 3D look).

    The nice thing about doing this in its own layer is that when I do something I don't like, I can use the eraser and not have to worry about hurting the solid color below it. I also enjoy turning the layer on and off when I'm done. It always amazes me what a small amount of extra shading does to the quality of the image.

    Then I add another layer between the empty white paper and the solid colors. I use this for the background. If it's a simple solid background, I set the brush to its maximum size (you can click on the size number and type in 500% to get super big tools) and quickly color over everything. Because this is below everything else, it doesn't cover anything that I've already done.

    Note that when you want to export the image, it will only add the layers that are showing. So I never remove the pencil layer. I just hide it before exporting to .png.

    Also note that you can change the order of the layers by dragging them around in the layer panel. So if it seems that one color you're drawing is covering things you don't want it to, you probably have to move the layers. The layers in the panel closest to the top of the screen are highest in the art, and lines in them can't be covered by lines in layers below them).


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    @Mike: that is a good technik I think. I'll try this sometime with the ink-layer. Mine is quite similar.

    Normaly I do a fine sketch on real paper with pencil, than scan it to photoshop and mask the sketch, than copy it to a new layer.

    Then I do the colouring on a second layer.

    The shades on a third. Never did highlights before.

    I use layers a lot. For different parts of the background too.

    Now I am keen to find out how I will work in artrage instead of photoshop.

    Greetz, se7en

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