Lesson 2

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The day will begin with a review of the flying assignment.

Photoshop's brush, though capable of some complexity, is in essence a very dumb thing. The effect that it produces has little of the nuance of its analogue precursor. In other words, photoshop is a very poor painting machine.

I find that much student work looks flat and monotonous, with little difference between objects of different texture and material. A painting of an airplane flaying across the ocean on a cloudy day should respect the difference between air (clouds), metal (airplane) and water (sea). It is your excessive reliance on

There is a way of using photoshop that takes advantage of the digital nature of the medium: This we may loosely term this approach procedural. A simple example of a procedural approach is the way a sky can be made using the Gradient Tool. A procedural approach is likely to involve the following or combinations thereof:

Procedural painting can be very complex and take you to every corner of photoshop, but If I had to prioritise one skill set above others, it would be Blend Modes. An informed use of these will enliven and deepen your image.

Class Exercise: Simple file

Using a range of approaches

Assignment: Procedural

Do a digital painting consisting of the following elements.

  • Candle: material nature is translucent and glowing.
  • Candle flame: this is the light source and will likely cast some sort of glow.
  • Brass candle stick: this is reflective and orange.
  • Rough wooden table top: this is heavily textured. Maybe in the cracks between the timber boards, there will be heavy occlusion (i.e. darkness).

You are to keep your brushwork to a bare minimum. These four objects are to be made using procedural approaches only. Source files may be used in blend mode operations (for example, to provide the reflections in the brass candlestick). The differences between them must be pushed as far as you can.