Big news is, I finally finished my personal website: shahrabis.com/
Other good news, I am planning to start painting again and taking visual projects. It could take some months, because I am still not solid enough in Game development to have a hobby.
So have a good day to you all!
long time no see. I know I have been non existent in the past few years, I am studying Game Design in berlin and have been busy finishing games here and there. I would love to share with you the Project which we are working on right now, and trying to get through steam Greenlight. Have a look, and give a thumb up if you have one available
Lately I am mostly doing only sketches. Since I have no actual obligation to finish any painting Most of these sketches are not good enough for my gallery so I decided to be active on facebook for sketches. Here is the link www.facebook.com/shahriar.shah… drop by. The other reason I decided to be active on facebook is because my notification box on DA is exploding and I don't get to be in touch with my friends on DA, so if you have a facebook add my page so we can be in touch and chat.
So here are the main ones. There is also this new forum that just very recently opened: Permanoobs and for the Persian Speaking fellas there is a Iranian CG sociaty with a suprisingly high number of super concept artists (didn't know there were that many good digital painters in iran! ) CGart.IR
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So far I have only done one painting with it but it has proved to be handy. Here is mine:
And here is what I painted for testing my pallet.
An answer I gave someone on the forum. Since I was asked on the topic again a few times, and I dont want to explain or the time here are three things you need to keep in mind when adding texture:
1. Texture density:
If you are texturing a stone 2 miles away or a tree in shadows and texture the hell out of it of course its going to look stupid. You have to remember how dense is the texture of the object for example objects have less texture in shadows when our eyes are under a bright area and looking at a bright area (and vice versa when we are in the shadows, looking at the shadows and there are lighted areas, kind of like an over exposure). Or that texture density decreases as the distance increases.
2. Color of the texture
The value, hue and saturation of the color you are using for the texture needs to be correct and believable otherwise it won’t read correctly. You can use color balance, hue and saturation and most useful of them all curves to make sure they match. Look at my journal on curves for more info.
It NEEDS TO BE IN PERSPECTIVE, and thats not only the perspective due to the lens but also atmospheric perspective and ...
Let me know if any of the parts is confusing you.
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Today I thought about taking a little bit of time to go over one of the most useful tools in Photoshop which not that many people use. The Curve adjustment tool is mostly used by photographers. But if you know how to use it, it will save you a lot of time. The confusing part comes from the graph side (math always seems to be a problem for people) but once you know what it means things become much easier. The system is a bit like a histogram for those who photograph. For those who don't here goes some explanation.
You can access the tool from two sections in Photoshop; the first is through the tabs above the program in image/adjustment/curves and the second is in your layer sections, as an adjustment layer. Either way a window will open for you when you open the tool. At the beginning it might seem confusing a bit, but actually its super easy. You are presented with a graph with a line on top of it. The graph has two axis, the horizontal one shows your values (light or dark), starting from darkest on the left to the lightest in the right. The vertical axis represents the number of pixels present. So if your graph peaks on the left side that means that there are lots of areas in your picture that have dark values, similarly if it peaks on the right side or the middle it shows most of the picture is light or midrange value respectivly.
I know photographs and painters who can just look at the curve without looking at the image and know what is wrong with it. For example good images generally have a variety of different values (of course this doesn't apply to all pieces), so by looking at a graph that doesn't show this variety and only peaks at certain values we know we need to add darker or lighter values somewhere in the image. Or if the graph doesn't peak in the middle but mostly on to two ends, we would know that the contrast of the piece is too much and it would irritate the eye of the viewer. Similarly, day time pictures tend to be shifted towards right whereas night time towards the opposite.
Now how does this help a painter? All explanation above mostly applies to photographs or photo manipulators who have less control over the making of the initial image. Painters have full control, they can plan before hand what range of values they want to use or if they lack darker values, they might think "why don't I just add a dark tree in the foreground? Is it too dark? Why don't I add a light source behind the character?", but there are two massive advantages to using curves. Let’s say you planned your composition before hand and everything is, to your eye perfect. Now you are almost finished with your piece but you realize too late that a certain area of your painting is to bright or to dark in certain value range. Now if you want to do this manually, you would have to paint over the areas you think have the wrong value but when you have added lots of details already that would become problematic.
So what you can do is select the area you want to work in and edit it with curves. When you have selected the part of the painting you wish to edit, now open the curve window and find the values you want to change on the graph (remember, darker values on the left, lighter on the right), here is when the magic happens, if you drag the curve up you reduce the number of pixels in that value, so by light values, the picture becomes lighter and by dark values it becomes darker. If you drag it down you reduce the number of pixels in that value range, so by dark values the picture becomes lighter and by light values it becomes darker. When you move the curve you would see that under its previous position there is a straight line going through the origin of the graph, this is your neutral state, or how the picture was before you started editing. So if you wish to return in to the way it was before, just return the curve to the line. That's important, because when you drag one side of the curve down, photoshop automatically for the sake of symmetry drags the other side up, and all that would do is increase the contrast, but if that's not what you want, then bring the other side back to the line.
Using this you could edit your images very fast. But the main use of it is in putting textures on painting and photo manipulation. When you are adding two photos together (or a texture to a painting) you got to make sure that the values match, meaning both photos has similar graph or histogram. When the graph of both images matches perfectly, regardless of perspective, or color, when viewed from far away, they both look to be a part of the same scene.
Give it a try and have fun.
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The other day I was watching this video about a digital technique, which was a way to load color information on Photoshop brushes. So what the guy did was to load the color info from a tree in a photograph and use it to paint trees in his panting. As one would expect trees kept popping here and there with no further need to paint over them. Now here comes the best part, there was this comment bellow that said "I missed the days when the self proclaimed Artists actually had to paint „ I was going to write, you actual idiot, but then I had to sign up and who would sign up just to swear, that’s just insensitive!
But the fact remains that the general public thinks digital painters are this breed of human who lie to themselves and the people around them (because apparently they have nothing better to do) in claiming that they know how to paint or having any useful skills at all! I mean it’s not like they actually do anything, they just press the button in Photoshop which for some reason I can’t find and Valla! It’s painted for them. Or no, they don’t even need that, the computer does the painting AND the designing for them. Nothing special!
A major part of digital masters are designers and so as far as designers are concerned they don't really care one way or another. Most of the times I hear professional designers say, we are not here to do art we are here to design. I find that statement hilarious, not because it is not true, but because concept artist get almost no attention for their design and while they are an essential part of the production process, have been the cause of so many great designs in games and movies which has brought joy to thousands, they get no credit for it. There are people who go to the best media and film studies school and universities and don't even know something as concept-artists exists! "Oh you mean one of those guys that get paid for no reason? I mean the person with the vision is the director, they just help him bring it out because he has more important things to do". So designers are also suffering from the ignorance of the general public.
But concept artists and designers aside, there is still a wide variety of people who use digital art to create art, art that they care about and consider important as it is their inner most intimate thoughts. There are other people who take pride in their skills, that has been acquired through hours of hard work, and their work, their hard wok is dismissed as nothing but a work of computer. But the same can be said about the public's view of most artists that deviate towards modern movement. But the digital artists have it good, not only are they persecuted and judged by the public as having no real skill they are also judged by the very art community that knows whether you paint with tooth paste or a digital stylus, you need solid knowledge of fundamentals such as perspective, color theorem, anatomy, composition and etc. to make a pleasing image: "You like painting things realistically?! Call the police, we have traditionalist here who doesn't understand true art. " and that's the better part of the community that actually acknowledges that you know something, a "traditionalist" they say like its a label that makes it silly art, but still they give you credit for knowing your left from right.
Well naturally all comes from not knowing (not the view towards realism, I think that's there just because), "what is this? You can copy a bunch of info on your brush and apply it to different parts which would look like a tree! You cheater!" Have you seen how people that paint with wet on wet method paint? Well, with oil or acrylic or anything as a matter of fact you could mix colors on your brush meaning loading variety of different colors on your bristles which combine with texture of the bristles and the canvas can instantaneously, depending on the colors you have loaded or the movement of your wrist, create trees, forests, mountains, waves, birds and ... But no. That's solid knowledge and this is cheating. "You have layers! Your can undo! You can ..." Which anyone with decent creativity knows can be done in traditional art as well.
Well to sum up people really do judge with no real undersigning of the subject. Most of the times it doesn't bother us, we have a range of audience that keeps us busy, but sometimes it does, like the first time I realized that the remarks that where to idiotic to be an actual way of thinking ... were in fact a way of thinking. Why cant people see that it is only a different medium? With its advantages and disadvantages as oil, acrylic, water color and ... have. That if used correctly is defiantly faster for painting but never easier?
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Time and time again, I have seen people asking why do so many artists start with a black and white painting and add the color later. Of course this is a preference but it has its own advantages which I think has lead almost all artists to try it out once in their career.
The problem starts with human vision, colors and values (a term which indicates how light or dark the object of interest is), is not as straight forward for human eys as they would be for a device such as a camera. Different colors of the same saturation (how pure the hue is) have different perceived brightness even if they are in fact of the same local value. A pure red at its brightest value is darker than a yellow of similar property to our eyes and so on are red, blue, purple of darker colors where as yellow, cyan, orange and green are of the lighter ones. Hence an artists needs to train his eyes to see the real value of an object when painting it and that takes a lot of practice and also mental effort.
Here comes the good thing about painting in grayscale you don't have to worry about any of them. And it’s not just the color value which is off your mind, you don't have to worry about color relation and composition either meaning you can focus purely on other parts such as value shapes' composition and relation and...
The second advantage which the method provides is, it helps the artists to see the values easier and hence establish a more realistic presentation of the subject matter. There are other advantages to the method as well, for example if you don’t use black for your grayscale but a monochromatic sets of values such as blue, you can also use that as an under paint, which would blend with other colors you add later on and produce more varied and exciting color scheme.
But here comes the main disadvantages of working in grayscale, there is no easy way to add color to it later. Both in digital and tradition art, people have used creative ways to establish a bulletproof method for adding color to a grayscale. The common method in Photoshop involves using the color, multiply and overlay blending layer modes to add variety of colors and paint over it at the end using the painting as a base. Other methods involve adjustment layers such as color balance, hue and saturation, photo filters and ... Which along with masking and lasso tools provide a method to achieve better looks and less need of painting over it at the end.
Personally I tend to start the painting off in color, not because it provides better paintings but because it's more enjoyable to paint that way, and I find the action off adding color later and painting over the same thing boring. But when I have to really plan things ahead -for client work let’s say - I tend to combine the methods mentioned above with the use of RGB and Lab color space. The RGB color space provides an easy method to add color to middle and darker values whereas Lab works really well for bright areas, and also naturally its massive advantage in having the lightness of a color as a separated component which allows us to change any value without changing its color and adding color to an area without changing values.
You can give coloring from black and white a try, my suggestion would be if you are painting don’t add to much detail because you have to paint over them any way but establish the general composition and the rendering of the forms. Or you can do what I do, paint in color but always keep a layer at the very top of your layers which is filled with black and it’s to saturation, that way every time you turn the layer on you will see the grayscale of the image.
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Being a better Painter
In the past few months, I have been asked again and again how can one improve painting skills. Each time it took a long time to provide an answer which due to the lack of time was somehow incomplete; hence I decided to submit this journal to present in an ordered format all resources for all who wish to know how to go to the next level.
The following suggestions and resources worked for me and might not necessarily work for all, but keep in mind that within the time span of two years I managed to bring up my skills from sub zero to being able to paint anything through these resources and completely self thought. So if it worked for me, it could also work for you. The other things that you should keep in mind before going through resources is that: A) here gathered I the best resources there is, but almost noun spoon feed you so you need to do independent research on areas in any of the following resources that you do not understand and practice what they do in the resources. B) Most resources are free, some need to be paid for, but almost for all, if you truly want them you should be able to find ways to have access to them for free. And lastly, DON’T RUSH IT. It will take years if not decades for any artist regardless of their talent to completely understand all the information in these resources. So take your time, enjoy and remember that in this world there are only two types of students: the self thought and the helpless.
Communities are very important. Whatever I tell you, you can find in the three websites above but abit scattered, which is why I am writing this journal.
Deviant art is a fantastic website where you could meet lots of people, be inspired and share. But due to its nature as a website for all, it’s not all that useful for improvement. Websites like Conceptart.org or CGTalk is where true treasure lies. Have a look through their forums and look at the stickers in each forum, you will find amazing information scattered on every page you open. Artstation is where you follow people from the industry. You can also follow some of them on Twitter and they will keep you uptodate on new trends.
Well believe it or not, I learned Digital Art from The Joy of Painting series by Bob Ross a traditional oil painter. You should definitely have a look at his series which you should be able to find with no problem. Schoolism contains lessons from some of the greatest concept artists alive and though costly, you would be able to have almost one on one lessons with the teachers online. There is nothing to say about The Gnomon Workshop besides that it is the collection of in depth tutorials by the very best artists you could think of, but naturally the DVDs are expensive. And finally Ctrl+Paint is a good way to start off if you have no experience and it takes your hand and walks you around the problems.
Academic Theory based websites
You could only thank god enough for these two website. READ THEM, EAT THEM, TEAR THEM APART until there is nothing left in them to understand. A bit high level, and a bit tough and wordy to chew, these two websites could be intimating. But trust me when I say, these two can tell you all there is know about the subjects which they have entries on, and all information on them is very accurate. I suggest you read through them a few times and check the information you receive in other resources with these because even some of the most classic and famous artists and teachers like Andrew Loomis or Betty Edwards have huge mistakes which have been presented in these two.
1. James Gurney
2. Iain Mccaig
James Gurney is one of the living experts when it comes to teaching how to use colors. His blog has hundreds of entry on the matter which you should check out. Ian Mccaig is in my opinion the best character designer there is, with classic titles on his belt such as Star Wars, Harry Potter, John Carter and … Well, just check him out from time to time.
2. Imagine FX
3. Noah Bradley
5. Tyler Edlin
Well, there is a lot of channels on Youtube filled with information, some wrong and some correct but all useful never the less. But even among these, FZDSCHOOL of design made by Feng Zhu a world renowned designer, is a true gold mine. Watch all 60 something episodes that are out.
Online Art Collections
1. Art Renewal
2. Art Project
The two things that will probably help you the most in your growth as a painter are real life studies and master studies. If you want to do master studies, A) you need to know who the masters are (have a look at the end of the journal, Old masters section) and B) where to find Scans of the works that are relatively close to the original piece. That’s where these two come in. Collect your favourite art works and study them with most tender love.
1. Andrew Loomis - Figure Drawing for All it’s Worth
2. Andrew Loomis - Drawing Head and Hand
3. Bridgman – Constructive Anatomy
4. Bridgman – The Human Machine
5. Burne Hogarth – Drawing Dynamic hands
6. Burne Hogarth – Drawing the Human head
7. Burne Hogarth – Dynamic Figure Drawing
8. Christopher Hart – Drawing Cutting Edge Anatomy
9. Eadweard Muybridge - The Human Figure In Motion
10. Robert Beverly - Anatomy lessons from the great masters
11. Stephen Rogers - Atlas of Human Anatomy for the artist
Don’t push yourself with anatomy. It comes with time, if you read three or four of these books; you should already have more than enough theory to work with. All that’s left is to truly understand them and that takes a while.
1. Gwen White – Perspective: A Guide for Artists. Architects and Designers
2. Joseph D’Amelio – Perspective Drawing Handbook
Joseph D Amelio has the best Perspective guide there is out there, perhaps except for the Hand Print website. I suggest, especially with perspective, to not read any other tutorials or books until you can tell wrong from right, because some are complete nonsense. It’s truly surprising how many school instructors or famous teachers have NO CLUE how our eyes see the world around us.
1. James Gurney – Color and Light
2. Betty Edwards – A Color Course in Mastering The Art of Mixing Colors
3. Munsell – Munsell Book of Color
James Gurney is a must read. Betty Edwards has some interesting information but also LOTS of wrong ones which is embarrassing for such famous of an instructor. Munsell Book of Color, is the Bible, and I am not even joking. Most of the current color spaces such Adobe ones, LAB and … have been based upon it. It is as close as you would ever get to understanding color as a painter.
1. Molly Bang – Picture this
You would be surprise how this little slide show can change your understanding of picture making. You can find this free everywhere with no problem.
Betty Edwards – The New Drawing on the Right side of the Brain
Andrew Loomis - Creative Illustration
Andrew Loomis – Successful Drawing
Andrew Loomis – The Eye Of The Painter
On the right side of the brain is a very good read for those who want to start off as artists. And Andrew Loomis’s collection is a must read that I think might even be available online as PDFs since it went out of publications a while back.
1. Imagine FX magazines
2. Digital Masters magazine
Both have some useless and useful stuff but worth reading nevertheless and most definitely good for inspiring and keeping in touch with the online world.
Well, read through them all. I will try to update this entry as regularly as I can, whenever I find a new source. You could also suggest sources I have forgotten to add to the collection. If you have 10 hours to spend I suggest to spend it browsing through Conceptart forum and then go through the other sources. And finally I hope that helps and contact me with whatever I could help with.
Artists to visit Online
Old Masters to look for
William Bouguereau ; Jean Leon Gerome ; Joseph Mallord William Turner ; Jeffrey T. Larson ; Rembrandt ; Norman Rockwell ; Paul Delaroche ; Steve Hanks ; William McGregor Paxton ; Thomas Cole ; Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema ; Thomas Moran ; Peder Mork Mønsted ; Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida ; John Everett Millais ; Juliette Aristides ; Maxfield Parrish ; Leon-Augustin L'hermitte ; Pierre-Auguste Cot ; John Singer Sargent ; Léon Joseph Florentin Bonnat ; JohannesVermeer ; Edmund Blair Leighton ; Claude Monet ; John White Alexander ; Ignace-Henri-Jean-Théodore ; Fantin-Latour ; John William Godward ; Ivan Constantinovich Aivazovsky ; Jacques Louis David ; Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres ; Jean Béraud ; Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoy ; Daniel F. Gerhartz ; Horace Vernet ; Herbert James Draper ; Frederic Edwin Church ; Albert Bierstadt ; Frederick Arthur Bridgman ; Giovanni Boldini ; Guillaume Seignac ; Gustave Caillebotte ; Gustave Courbet ; Edward John Poynter ; Edward Hopper ; George Inness ; Eugene de Blaas ; Caspar David Friedrich ; Alphonse Maria Mucha ; Anders Zorn ; Alexandre Cabanel
Edit: Another journal I found on deviantart with some useful information