(Ben Green) #1

    In order to create great digital paintings in Photoshop, it pays to have
    classic art knowledge – art students will work on tonal studies and
    learn how colours reflect and interact with each other, applying this to
    their paintings in order to add realism. This understanding is just as
    relevant to digital art. “It’s really worth putting that time in first.
    Photoshop is a tool like a paintbrush or pen; it’s not going to do the
    work for you,” says illustrator Matthew Britton (www.matthew- Pay attention to the world around you and watch how
    light reacts to different surfaces, then practice what you have seen in
    Photoshop. “[Look at] how light really looks on glass, water, metal,
    etc. – that [will all be] in your head when you come to do your
    illustration work. It makes it a lot easier, because you’ve got a
    reasonably accurate instinct about what looks right and wrong.”
    With digital painting, you can’t always rely on the built-in lighting filters and tools. You
    will need to paint in a lot of the lighting by hand in order to create a realistic scene that
    is full of depth and atmosphere. Building up the lighting in a digital painting is no
    different to building up the tones and values in a traditional painting, which is where
    Photoshop’s Brush tools come in to play and the most basic, built-in brushes are
    perfectly adequate for getting exceptional results – if you know how to use them.
    Illustrator Matthew Britton takes a very traditional approach, forcing Photoshop to act
    like oil paints to give his artworks a tangible, old-school feel: “[This way of working]
    actually emulates the old-style ‘fat over lean’ principle very well, building up in layers,
    reducing Opacity (adding ‘oil’) each time. I’ll start with 100% Opacity and large brushes with
    Transfer and Smoothing on (to imitate slight paint mixing) and then reduce the Opacity as I
    build it up. Towards the end I’ll use a few blending modes like Soft Light to imitate oil colour
    glazes. Then I’ll go back in with hard brushes to pick out details at the end. Regular
    flattening of layers is like accepting the paint has dried and moving on. It’s important to keep
    an eye on contrast too. Every now and then I’ll check the levels to keep the colours bright –
    or go in with a really soft brush on Multiply to keep the shadows deep.”

© Matthew Britton

© Matthew Britton
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