Bitter Grounds - espresso fueled ramblings

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

I'm working on my Wacom/Photoshop brush techniques. Well, that's a flattering way of saying I'm trying to teach myself how to use different brushes in Photoshop. It's quite amazing how flexible they are. I've spent years working with Photoshop, strictly for photos, never seriously looking to use it for original art. I'm working towards a full freehand drawing, but my brush control has a long way to go first.

To date, I've been using photos and doing line tracings of them and then "painting" them in. It's a great way of expanding a brush skills. I'm working on a photo of Osgood Hall and Toronto City Hall I took a few weeks ago. Here's the first pass:

Toronto City Hall taken from grounds of Osgoode Hall in TorontoI'm trying for a water colour effect again. That's something I was never any good at - real water colours. I'm too impatient, which is a weird confession considering I'll spend hours tinkering with a picture in Photoshop or drawing on paper. Here's the second draft, without the blue sky.  I turned the layer off on this draft until I fill in some of the building along the top. I'm actually quite pleased with the way the sky worked out though.

Toronto City Hall taken from grounds of Osgoode Hall in Toronto

And I'm using layers to add leaves as I go along. Not too sure about the sign, need to go erase that and try it again. That was my first attempt and yea, it looks wonky. So does the tree and bench for that matter. The tree needs more definition and the bench ... it has to go. It looks like a drunken carpenter built it.  But the leaves worked spectacularily well. Building them up in layers and then using a light hand on blending seems to be the best method. I turned the undercoat off in this image as well. I'm playing with a couple colours behind the leaves to give it a fuller look. You'll see that in the next edition.   I stopped for a bit because I realised I need to expand my brush selection. I kept relying on the same 4 brushes and that just won't do. 

Last night I was a bit bored and decided to experiment with some pencil style brushes I downloaded. I spent a rather happy evening adjusting them to a variety of softnesses with erodible points. I think some of the new mixer brushes I've set up might be just what's needed in the above pictures. To experiment with the brushes, I pulled out a pencil drawing I did years ago and decided to give it a go. Yea, I cheated again, I did a rough trace of the outline of my original work and then went free hand the rest of the way. I haven't gotten the feathers quite right, it will take a lot of practice. They are a lot easier with pencil and paper.

 Photoshop drawing of Beswick wren based on an original pencil sketch

The eye worked out better than I'd hoped. It needs a bit more darkness to give it the liquid look. He does look a little rough around the feathers. I need to go back and use more layers for each series of feathers and shadings. I think I also need a harder pencil - maybe a 2H rather than the softer style, so the details pop. I'll hammer at it this weekend. Very busy this week and might not have time to play around with it. Oh and it's a Beswick wren, if you're curious.

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"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera."

- Dorothea Lange

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