Friday, November 30, 2007

Adobe Photoshop Tutorial - Working With Selections and Quick Mask Mode

By J.T. Blevins

One great feature of Adobe Photoshop is "quick mask" mode. Usually, to avoid painting over different elements of my work, I think of using the lasso tool to make selections of the areas I want to keep my color inside. BUT, there is an alternative, and one with much more flexibility.

In Fig. 1, the picture shows two buttons, located at the bottom of the tool window, just underneath the color selector boxes. These buttons are "Edit in Standard Mode (Q)" and "Edit in Quick Mask Mode (Q)."



We'll begin with a quick sketch, and enter Quick Mask mode. This mode enables the artist to use any brush to create selections in a new creative way. By drawing in this mode, you are creating a selection area to work with in Standard Mode. The translucent red area of your selection is the area that will NOT be included in the selection.
Experiment with different brushes. Try varying opacity, brush size, shape and behavior. You'll be surprised at the effects you can create by changing brush styles!

After we have our selection, it's time to go back to Standard Mode. Click the button on the left at the bottom of the Tools window.

This takes the quick mask and turns it into a selection. Pretty cool, huh?

Now, we can paint our background around the main subject without intruding on it (while you still have your selection, that is.)


Now that you've spent all that time creating your selection, it is time to save it for later use. Click on Select>Save Selection...

...And choose a name for the selection layer you want to save.


The new selection layer will now show up under the Channels tab. Now you can [Ctrl]+click to reload the layer as a selection.

The nice thing about the quick mask feature is that you can switch back and forth at any time during your painting. You can go back and re-adjust the part of the picture you now want to edit.


There is also a lot to gain from using selection layers. As you can see, the composition of your painting begins to become clear. We can now see the negative space much more easily! :)

Monday, November 26, 2007

What Makes a Good Digital Painting?

So, how does an artist choose subject matter for his next digital painting, and what style do you use? This has been a topic I have been mulling over lately. Basically, I use my gut instinct when painting. When painting Hellboy, I wanted to use a bold style with good lighting. With the Turtles painting, I wanted to paint something a little more "gritty," but with pretty much the same bold style. Aragorn and Arwen deserved a little more realism, so I pretty much went with the painted look.

I'm now working on a Harry Potter painting that includes Prof. Dumbledore and Fawkes the phoenix. I'm really going experimental on this one, making it look more like a watercolor painting than anything. And, that's fine. But for the TMNT? I don't think watercolor would have worked.

I have seen many other styles work very well in digital paintings, but most other digital painters have one style and stick with it. I like to experiment, to try and pull out of the painting the most aesthetic work that I can. If watercolor works, I use it. If the subject requires a more cartoony, smooth feel, then I go with it. If it needs a style that is more serene or surreal, I'm using watercolor. Don't be afraid to test your limits. As an artist, if you limit yourself, you're placing a mental block on your work. And that's not something you really want to do.

So, what makes a good painting? I guess I'd say to paint from the heart, paint what you know, and always experiment! :)


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Lord of the Rings Painting Video

Here is the video for my LOTR painting of Aragorn and Arwen. Enjoy!


Lord Knows I Love Lord of the Rings!

For it being Thanksgiving weekend, I had a little time to do some painting. And, what better to paint than a LOTR frame from the movie? I've always been a Lord of the Rings fan. The first novel I ever read was The Hobbit in about 7th grade, and from that point on, I was hooked. Before that, I couldn't conceive of reading something that wasn't a comic book. The fact that something that used only words to tell a story and was interesting to boot was hard to believe.

So, as I'm sure you can imagine, when the movies came out, I was absolutely ecstatic. So now, I have all the DVD's. I don't get the time to watch them or read the books anymore, but anyway... I still have the curious mind of a child when it comes to Tolkien's masterpiece.

I chose to paint a picture of Aragorn and Arwen because their love for one another was one of the most powerful parts of the trilogy. Even when Aragorn is off in distant lands fighting a battle from which he may never return and another love tempts him, he stays true to her. Their love seems like a pure kind of love, one that some of us will never experience. So, that's why I wanted to capture a moment that inspires this feeling of true love. Because, some of us may not be so fortunate...


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Turtle Power!

It's been a bit hectic this week because my work switched me from 2nd shift to day shift this week for Thanksgiving, among several other things I had to take care of... But, I had a chance to do a little painting over the weekend. I have always been a Turtles fan, and this was kind of an itch I've been wanting to scratch for a long time. I did a pin-up a couple years ago, fully inked and colored, but even since then, I've been wanting to do something that captures the turtles' essence, and I believe this is it. As a kid, I was never a Raphael fan, but as I grow older, I feel like I have more and more in common with him. Not that I go around wanting to kick the crap out of everyone, but things tend to make me angry that didn't before. I didn't want to do a solo painting, so I had to find a way to include the other 3, too! Yih, boyz! Now I have to do a Flav-a-flav painting. And, A Flock of Seagulls. And, and, Milli Vanilli! I can't stop! Vanilla Ice! MC Hammer! WTF? Somebody kick me in the junk!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

New Hellboy Digital Painting Video in Photoshop

View this video on YouTube, MySpace, Metacafe, Google, Revver, DailyMotion,, Veoh and Stupid Videos

Hellboy Speed Painting

Been sharpening my pixels lately to get a Hellboy digital painting finished. It took a while on this one, actually about 4 or 5 days in my off time, but it was a lot of fun. I'm still learning a lot about painting in Photoshop, but I'm getting addicted fast! I haven't done a page of comic book work since I've been learning how to paint digitally. I'm sure I'll get back into the swing of things here in a couple weeks, but for now, I'm having too much fun painting some of my favorite characters (which happen to be comic book characters).


Saturday, November 3, 2007

Photoshop is My Friend

Cool. That's all I have to say. I finished a digital painting in 4 hrs and 20 min. (!) If you've read my previous posts, you'd know why that's such a good thing. I started from scratch and painted Gruel from "3 Witches," and it actually turned out okay. I'm beginning to like this digital painting stuff. One great thing about it is being able to work with layers. I can paint one thing, and go over it on another layer without even touching the bottom layer. Also, I feel like I can get great colors using Photoshop, because you can change the colors of virtually anything in the painting by saving a couple of selections. Okay, I have to go find some toothpicks to prop my eyes open, because I'd say it's going to be a long night. :D


Thursday, November 1, 2007

Digital Painting-A Good Thing or a Bad Thing?

From the point of view of a comic book artist, I saw digital painting as a horrendous undertaking from the outset. Being used to drawing a page in about a day's time, something this detailed, and in color nonetheless, was going to be the most grueling job I had ever taken upon myself.

My first digital painting took 38 hours to complete. Yup, 38 hours. 38 long and drawn out hours, paying attention to nothing but pixels and more pixels. Looking at nothing but my computer monitor, dreaming about painting, planning my painting as I go through the laborious human process known as "eating." I only kept track of the time spent working by making a video for it whichwas 38 minutes long, and it was set to record 1 second of video per real-time minute.

But, I saw this as a learning experience. And, it was a huge one. I can say that because I painted the first figure in 11 and a half hours, and the rest were done in gradually decreasing amounts of time. In my defense, there were five figures to be painted, an RPG rocket, and the background. Each being as time consuming as the next. Even though it took me this long, I have to say I'm going to continue to practice at it, because as boring as it seems, I did have fun doing it, and next time, I will have learned techniques I didn't know before.

Next time, though, I'll try not to push family, work, and everything else to the side and become a Photoshop zombie... :)