Digital art in transition


The long way to produce a digital painting aka my way of working (mostly!)

You may think that this is a very long way to create an image, and you’d be right. I work this way mostly, though not all the time, for two reasons. Firstly, by drawing initially on paper I keep those skills alive and have a ‘hard copy’ to refer to, change, and re-use. Secondly, when I looked at the finished drawing, especially this one, I could see that it was far too busy with too much detail, so the immediate decision was – limited palette!

I tend to be a detail ‘freak’ and work by subtracting rather than by addition. Those with the smarts would do it the other way round, but for me it’s just how I am.

After that I spend a fair bit of time with the image propped somewhere so that my eyes find it from different angles. For me this allows my imagination more time to come up with new ways of approaching what is floating around in my head. Having an image come together immediately, whether hand drawn on paper or a digital canvas, is a rare and wonderful experience for me. It does happen, just not as often as I would like.

Once the idea blossoms (“Oh I know what it needs”) then I scan or photograph the drawing and take it into one of several programs, in this case Photoshop.


You can see that while this has come a long way the image has not been fully integrated, that poor little sugar glider looks very sad, and the overall image lacks subtle shadows and highlights and changes in tones. Basically the image just looks ‘flat’ and dead. Several further steps are required, but from here on the hardest part of the work is over and the gentle work of making this image come alive begins. Also this is a small jpeg image so the quality is not the best, it’s here only to show you a close up of another stage.


And here she is. I’m rarely completely satisfied with a finished image and I can see things here I would do differently, but I’ll give this time to percolate and revisit it when time and distance has worked its magic.

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