Oct 29, 2015

Digital Deer and Maple Tree Painting - WIP6

Well, progress has been pretty slow on this painting, I admit. Not because it's a difficult painting, but because I have been spending a lot of time playing with ArtRage. This is only the second painting I've done that has ArtRage work in it so AR is still pretty new to me. My previous AR painting was my Cardinals Christmas Feast painting, but I only did the background for that in AR. All the rest was done in Photoshop. So I still have a lot to learn about AR.

One thing I played around with a lot in AR recently was the Sticker Spray brush. Here's some of the AR interface, and I've labeled some of the tools I'm using for those of you not familiar with AR.

So what is Sticker Spray, exactly? It's a tool that lets you apply multiple pre-made images to your painting very quickly. I was playing with this tool because I wanted to find a way to "paint" the maple leaves on the tree without having to paint each and every leaf individually. I had already spent a considerable amount of time painting these leaves by hand for my previous painting, Autumn Acquaintances, so I figured I might as well take advantage of that and reuse some of those leaves. After all, that's one of the advantages of digital painting!

 So, to use these leaves in an ArtRage Sticker Spray I had to the original leaves from my Photoshop image and lay them out in a grid as such, and save that image file out as a png to import into ArtRage's Sticker Sheets:

Here is the Sticker Sheets panel in ArtRage. I won't into detail on how to do this since there are lots of tutorials out there, and instructions on the AR site and in the manual, on how to do this. But as you can see, I've added my sheet of leaves there at the bottom.

That was actually the easy part. The hard part was playing with all those variables on that Spray Variations panel to get it to look right. I had to spend a lot of time tweaking the rotation and size and color to get it to look natural when I "sprayed" the leaves on the tree. Initially I was getting blue leaves, upside down leaves, and all sorts of weird things going on!

I think Photoshop has something similar where you can sort of spray on shapes with varying sizes and colors. But ArtRage lets you use pre-made full-color images rather than just shapes it adds colors to. Additionally, when you "spray" the shapes on a Photoshop layer they are stuck in place. In AR you can go back and move, scale, or rotate individual leaves after you have sprayed them down. This is important because the spray tool picks leaves from the Sticker Sheet at random and sometimes you end up with two of the same leaf right next to each other, which doesn't look very natural. So after I filled my tree with leaves I had to go in and move some individual leaves around to give it a more natural look.

So here's the painting with the leaves sprayed in and tweaked. I did them on two layers, one layer behind the tree trunks that have leaves that are a little smaller to make them look a little farther away, then a layer in the front with larger leaves.

So this is where I am now. I still have a lot more to do with the leaves. I need to go in and add shadows to give it a dappled sunshine look. And, of course, all the foreground work still needs to be done. So next will be doing some grass and fallen leaves on the ground. Grass can also be "sprayed" on with the Sticker Spray tool. Unfortunately, I don't have any digital clumps of grass to steal from my previous paintings so I'm going to have to make the grass from scratch. So that's what I'll be working on next. So look for grass in my next post!

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