Premature Rendering (Or, How to Kill a Painting)

Too many paintings have lost their lives to premature rendering because their artists didn’t know what else to do.” – Chris Oatley

The most frustrating thing for me as I was preparing to graduate from college was knowing that I’m not good enough as an artist. Not yet. Especially when it comes to digital painting. When I look at my art it all feels off, like I missed the point of everything. I couldn’t pin down what was wrong, I just knew it was.

But it’s finally becoming clear to me, slowly but surely. I would focus on the character and add the background almost as an afterthought. But the environment needs to be as much a character as the figure(s) you’re drawing in it.

I would forget to pay attention to basic composition (which is something you can learn about in Framed Ink by Marcos Mateu-Mestre OR for free at Today, watching a lesson from Chris Oatley’s Magic Box course gave me another piece of the puzzle: I’m a compulsive premature renderer.

You’ll notice if you look at any of my galleries that I don’t work in color too often. It’s not because I don’t like illustration; it’s because I have a tendency to hate my colored work as soon as it’s finished. And it’s no wonder. My typical process was to draw a figure, ink it, slap some flat color onto it (without paying attention to composition OR color design) and THEN decide to add a background.

Yeah. That doesn’t work, and I can’t believe I never noticed that ’til now.

Unfortunately for this environment sketch turned sci-fi illustration, I didn't give it's composition very much thought; instead I jumped straight to rendering.
Unfortunately for this environment sketch turned sci-fi illustration, I didn’t give its composition very much thought; instead, I jumped straight to rendering.

Digital Painting 101

I’ve been researching Photoshop techniques for digital painting this past week because my current process is too slow and clumsy to be effective in a professional setting. The following videos are the best I’ve found introducing basic techniques. And they’re short, so you don’t have to worry about getting bored.

When I first watched these videos, I’ll admit I knew most of what they demonstrated already, but the little tricks and tools I didn’t know have completely changed how I approach digital painting. And for someone who’s not experienced with Photoshop, these will be pure gold.

If you don’t watch any other video, watch the last one. The artist does a painting only using the techniques he shows in the first four parts. It’s amazing what can be accomplished with such a simple process.

Part One: Navigation

Part Two: Brush Basics

Part Three: Mixing Color

Part Four: Layers

Part Five: Putting It All Together

Source: Ctrl+Paint