.for archive purposes

Digital Painting: tips for beginners

Heyo! I got asked if I could make a tutorial on digital painting so I’m gonna throw together some advice meant for people who are starting out and want to figure out exactly how this stuff all works. Because it’s hard! What I hope to accomplish here is to make painting more approachable for you.

Firstly, I have put together something like this before, so for archival purposes here it is: http://holy-quinity.tumblr.com/post/89594801811/i-dont-know-how-much-of-this-kind-of-thing-you

For those of you who don’t wanna bother reading that, here are the main points:

1. Learn your program and its tools, from brush properties to layer styles. And I mean learn them. Make a cheatsheet that shows you exactly what each button and scale does, both in isolation and in conjunction with other buttons and scales. Refer to this as much as possible until it is intuitive. The end goal is to know exactly what to do to your brush’s settings to achieve a given effect.

2. It’s perfectly okay to use your sketches, linearts, and other forms of line in your paintings. They can help guide the form and there’s no need to make something fully “lineless”! I never make things “lineless.”

3. Study other people’s art and try to think how they could have possibly achieved the effects they did. You can learn a lot just by observing and mentally recreating the process stroke by stroke—muscle memory is a powerful tool at your disposal. This becomes easier to do once you’ve started doing item 1 above.

OKAY!

So where the heck do you even begin?

What I’m gonna do is try to make digital painting as approachable as possible for someone who’s never really done it. The main idea here is that digital painting is just like real painting. So if you’ve ever done real painting, you already kinda know what’s coming.

I’m gonna assume you know the basics of digital art: you can sketch, line those sketches using layers and opacity changes, and fill the lines with color, maybe even opting to add some shading…and you’ll get something like this:

You know, cell-shaded, or maybe the shading’s blended, but you’ve still obviously a line drawing with color put down on layers beneath the lines.

The next intuitive step is to try going “lineless”…but when you remove the lines you get this:

idk about you but I’m laughing at how stupid this looks

When I was first teaching myself to paint digitally, I didn’t really know how to deal with this. Without lines, the form of the subject vanished or became a mess like the above. Even if I was meticulous and careful about placing down the color such that without the lines layer turned on, the shapes fit together, it didn’t look quite right. There’d be gaps, I wouldn’t know how to incorporate the subject into a background, the contrast wouldn’t be high enough, or it’d just in general look too much like a screenshot from Super Mario 64.

Painting requires a different process than the above. You’ll have to let go of some of your habits and conventions. Such as staying in the lines. Such as fully relying on the lines. Like, I love my lines, I love my sketches—but in painting, they are guides for form, and are not the form itself. So let me go through how I approach a given painting:


My painting process starts with a sketch (here a boring portrait for demonstrative purposes). I make the opacity of the sketch layer something like 30%, and then throw down my base colors on a new layer underneath. I’m not being meticulous about the sketch itself, because again it’s just meant to guide my placement of color. I’m also not meticulous about my placement of the color.

We’re essentially sketching with color. Because ultimately what we want is for the color to take on the form and shapes conveyed by the sketch.

There’s a lot going into this about how to use value, how to shade, how to use color, etc. that I’m kinda skipping over because it takes a lot of time to explain…but there are hundreds of tutorials out there on those topics so please, google around! I found some helpful tuts that way when I was starting out.

Something I find v useful is to keep selecting colors that already exist in your image for shading and hue adjustment. This is why I start with really blendy, low-opacity brushes when throwing down color on top of the background. I can then select colors within there that are a mix of the two.

For instance, I’ll select the color of the lines here:

…and use that to shade:

And maybe I’ll select one of the darker shades around his eye, but not the darkest, to make the shading a smoother gradient…and so on.

What I do in general at this point is go over the shapes and lines of the sketch. Such that I can turn off the sketch layer and see this:

I’m replacing the lines with shading and value. I’ll continue to do this as I keep adding color.

This is all super loose. I am not dedicated to any particular stroke. I just want the colors and shading and light source to be right. I’ll use overlay layers to boost contrast or add a hue.

Here are other examples where I used this process:

I am constantly changing brushes and brush settings as I paint. It really depends on what effect I want where. I am also constantly selecting new colors and applying or blending those in. I don’t believe in having some uniformly applied base color and then shading with only one or two…that’s what I’d do if I was cell-shading like the first drawing I showed you here, but painting should be about messing with color and opacity and blending to make millions of hues!

Good rule of thumb: Hard, opaque brushes for applying color. Soft, dilute brushes for blending colors. Sometimes hard, dilute brushes can make some cool blending effects! I personally prefer harder edges on my shading so that’s a brush I use often.

This is getting a bit long so I’m gonna split it up into multiple parts, but really what I want you to get from this is:

1. learn the tools at your disposal until they are intuitive

2. sketch and line are guides for form, not the form itself

3. rather, hue and value will produce the form

And of course, practice makes perfect!!! Every drawing you make, every painting you make, will bring you one step closer to the artist you want to be, and thus every drawing and every painting, no matter what, is a success.

Ao3 Pro-tip

If a ship doesn’t warrant a mention in the summary for your story, you should not use the ship tag.

If the ship merely exists in the background, like because of canon compliance, you should not use the ship tag.

Tag the ship only if it is actively going to be explored or developed in the story.

I wrote about this on Facebook and have seen a lot of references to it elsewhere but I just think for archival purposes I might as well write it down here: Trump is a puppet and Republicans of all stripes are desperately scrambling to force through as much absolutely repugnant shit as they possibly can, so that when his downfall comes (and someone, somewhere, probably has a careful plan for how to bring that about, and maybe even a schedule; impeachment most likely, and they’ll drag it out but let it happen), they can disavow everything terrible that happens, and spend just long enough dragging their feet on “repairing” all the “damage” he did (and it was all him! all on his own! he and his people! such rogues!) that the things they wanted will still happen, the people who were getting paid off for various corporate deals can still cash out, the assets can still get stripped out of the various government agencies, the outrage can burn itself out a bit, hopefully the few thousand sickest and most expensive patients stripped of healthcare will up and die already, the most annoying activists can get declared felons, a good collection of undesireables can get rounded up and deported or whatever, it’s all to the good even if it’s morally and legally indefensible. 

But by the time midterms roll around, they can all pin the blame for everything terrible that has happened on Trump, and campaign for re-election and maybe even swing some *more* seats red because of the terrible consequences of the things they pushed through. They were helpless, you see. It was all that horrible man’s fault.

So. I’m thinking maybe we need to spend a little less energy frantically protesting everything he does, and a little more energy carefully taking note of just who wrote each of those executive orders, who the authors of those bills were, and who, especially among the Democrats, collaborated. 

Take note of your Republican reps’ actions, and write to them and tell them that you see what they’re doing, and when Trump falls you’re not going to let them blame it on him; you see what their actual actions were in this ridiculous and confusing time, and you’re not going to fall for it.

Take note of your collaborators and write to them and tell them you’ll be backing a primary challenger against them in the next elections, if they’re Democrats. 

We surely need to be planning for 2018, and these are the first steps for that. This is all meant to be overwhelming and distracting. Look to the long view. There’s not much more we can do in the short view– obstructionism is the only way to minimize the damage before Trump is eliminated. 

(And, of course, keep the pressure up so that he does actually get eliminated.) 

RvB  Rec Day - May

OKAY GUYS I CAN DO THESE AGAIN I HAVE A COMPUTER!!

So, here are the fics I have Screamed about in April, or that you otherwise need to read, according to Word of Me!

Keystone by Martienne (@texelations​)

He could never forget her, and his memories were the keystone in the center of everything he was. Yet it is said we are not human beings but human becomings. Leonard Church was no exception.

Okay so. Full disclosure: I am not actually caught up on this fic yet because I have no idea what the heck I’ve been doing with my life. But! I am a SUCKER for backstory/prequel/artful explanation of character motivations/character studies in general tbqh and Marti is basically incredible. And this story is incredible!! It’s so well thought-out and so well written and just. Everything about it is GREAT and it has made me appreciate both the Director and Allison as characters so much more?? Like, 10/10 a fic I would offer to anyone just coming into this fandom interested in any way, shape, or form in Chex. READ IT.

The Fourth Thing by @queseraawesome

(No summary because tumblr fic)

OKAY LIKE TBH I basically love everything Sera has written. TBH. TBQH. But this fic kind of destroyed me a lot on the inside?? I am SO FUCKING HERE for Carolina introspection fics. I am SO HERE FOR IT. And this is just beautiful and poignant and?? Like how dare?? That’s how I feel???? 

paint flecks and sun specks by @littlefists

(More tumblrfic because Bingo Wars was amazing okay)

All right this rec is a little biased. Because I GAVE THE PROMPT BUT YOU KNOW WHAT THAT’S FINE THIS IS MY REC LIST DAMMIT. Like if you have been following me for longer than about ten seconds you already know exactly how much I love domestic Tuckington and this?? Is everything?? I have ever needed?? In my life!!!!! Complete with BACK OF THE NECK TOUCHES LIKE THAT IS MY FAVORITE NON SEXUAL TUCKINGTON CONTACT OKAY?? OKAY.

The Fall by anneapocalypse (@anneapocalypse)

Carolina is gone, Maine subsumed by the Meta. A patchwork being of loss and memory, they wander in pursuit of Sigma’s dream. Which fragments of them will hold the key to their salvation or destruction—theirs, and Maine’s as well?

Okay. This fic IS a sequel to The Drop, which you can find easily from either of the above links. I have been HYPE about this fic for SOOOO LOOOONG. And by that I mean since February when I read The Drop lmfAO THIS FIC FEATURES ANOTHER ONE OF MY FAVORITE RVB TROPES, AKA “wow there’s a whole lot of missing time unaccounted and ignored in canon let’s fix it” AND JUST?? LIKE? I HAVE NEVER CONSIDERED SO MUCH OF WHAT ANNE GOES INTO IN THIS FIC AND I AM SO HERE FOR ALL OF IT. All of it!!!!!!!! Did you ever consider that, for example, Eta is a little shit?? Because I didn’t!! But he sure is in this fic!! And I LOVE IT I LOVE EVERYTHING.


And that about sums up my Fic Rec tag in April! There’s a little more in there and by all means feel free to peruse it! It’s mostly me screaming in the tags, full disclosure. NOW LET’S DO SOME ART RECS.

This by @cquaer because listen everything I need in life is Wash and Tucker cuddling in bed and being adorable. ALSO WASH HAVING COLD FEET YASSSSS

This by @grimmmons because JUST LOOK AT THIS KISS!! LOOK AT IT!! LOOK AT THEIR FACES ALL SMUSHED TOGETHER I CANNOT EVEN.

This by @0ghost-gal because both of these images are absolutely STUNNING but let me tell you how my heart actually skipped a beat in my chest at the image of Carolina staring at the sky OKAY???

This by @alwayssadaboutfreelancers because okay look like EXCELLENT GIF CHOICE AS ALWAYS AND I HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS ABOUT WASH’S MINDSCAPE OKAY A LOT OF FEELINGS.

  • Gold: There. Now, wherever you are, I will always find you.
  • Charming: Are you kidding me!? You're gonna steal my romantic line to forcibly LoJack your wife. What the hell, man?
  • Gold: Aren't you supposed to be under a sleeping curse?
  • Charming: I'm so mad that I woke up.