As you might know I’ve tried to reproduce a feel of traditional oils in my digital paintings. This time I spent a great deal of time to change my workflow to get closer to that goal. The process involved studying paintings from the old masters. I got especially inspired by the cow themed paintings by Julien Dupre (1851-1910). Cows are perfect subjects for portraying dramatic light because of the white skin color. I thought I knew how to do natural lighting by using warm light and cool shadows, but looking at the paintings I realized the shadows can be warm where the cool light cast by the sky is obscured. He also made interesting paintings where the main subjects were in shadow and the background was brightly lit. That’s something I never tried before in my previous paintings.
To get more convincing oil painting effect I tried my hands on the latest Corel Painter. I did a finished painting, but I wasn’t satisfied enough to publish it. Clearly looking at the paintings from old masters makes you critical on your own paintings — which is good when trying to improve. So I spent more time studying a book of my favorite Finnish painter Albert Edelfelt (1854 - 1905) and then started a new painting.
This time I wanted all the main elements to be right. First the composition and lighting: I took the subject of my previous painting and made a simple 3d scene of that in Blender. Then I took that to Corel Painter and made a grayscale study based on the render. That’s how I usually work since the values are a foundation of a painting. Then came the part that is always the hardest: adding color. This time I really took effort to study paintings of the old masters by taking them to Photoshop and pushing up the contrast to really see how they’ve done the colors. Learning from that I was able to get a decent color sketch.
The painting started to look nice when viewing from a distance, but looking closer it was what digital paintings usually are: too soft with textures looking too artificial. So I bought the latest version of ArtRage and started experimenting how to achieve the different oil painting effects. One is the technique called dry brushing, where using only a little paint makes the canvas texture still visible when brushed lightly. Another is impasto, which is a term for using really thick paint, usually in the areas of brightest highlights. Third is a blending effect achieved by pushing paint using a palette knife. ArtRage was able to deliver all those effects, although it took some time to figure out how to do them. So I took the painting into ArtRage and basically repainted it on top of the existing one using the tools mentioned. I was surprised how nice the end results were. I’m sure to continue learning how to push the traditional look in my future paintings. After all that’s what makes me different from all the other digital painters.
Now I’d like to hear your opinion. What do you think of the oil painting effect? Do you want to see detail shots that really show the effect when viewed closer?