Today’s Art (19th April 2018)

Well, for something that was originally made in a hurry in the middle of a heatwave (and, yes, I’m not a hot weather person!), this digitally-edited painting turned out surprisingly well, all things considered.

As usual, this painting is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

“Poolside” By C. A. Brown


Three Very Basic Tips For Learning How To Paint Realistic Shadows/Shading

Well, at the time of writing, I’m experimenting with adding more realistic shadows/shadows to my art. Here’s a reduced-size preview of one of the daily (digitally-edited) paintings that I prepared for next month:

This is a reduced-size preview, the full-size painting will be posted here on the 15th May.

1) Software can be useful: One of the advantages of using digital tools when making art is that it’s easier to experiment, make mistakes, undo your mistakes and experiment again. This is also true if, like me, you use both traditional and digital materials in your art.

For example, the muted purple shadows in the preview that I showed you earlier were one of a number of elements that I added to a scan of my painting using digital tools (other elements include more realistic skin tones, the dark blue starry sky in the background and my usual adjustments to the brightness/contrast/colour saturation levels).

By adding the shadows digitally, I was able to experiment with different colours until I settled on one that looked realistic (eg: a rather desaturated purple). In addition to this, I was able to experiment more freely with the shapes of the shadows until they started to look at least vaguely realistic.

This allowed me to take the lessons I’d learnt from studying old paintings, looking at reference photographs and from previous experiments with realistic shadows and then try out different things until the picture started to look “right”. Since most image editing programs include an “undo” function, there’s a lot more freedom to make mistakes without worrying about irrevocably ruining your painting. And mistakes are an essential part of the learning process.

2) Think in 3D and look at other examples: I’ve already written about “thinking in 3D” ages ago, but it is an essential skill if you want to add more realistic shadows and shading to your art. If you can think of everything in your painting or drawing as being a 3D model of some kind, then working out which areas the light will and won’t hit becomes much more easy.

Likewise, look at the shadows and shading in lots of photos and see if you can learn any general rules from this. Go online and look for photos, try to work out where the light sources in these photos are (eg: the opposite direction to where any shadows are) and then see how this affects where the shadows are. Likewise, look at the work of other artists and see how they handle shadows. The aim here is to look at as many examples as you can until you start to notice similarities that you can deduce general rules from.

For example, the contours beneath people’s eyebrows will usually be at least slightly gloomier than the surrounding areas since, if you look at this area on your own face, you’ll notice that there is at least a slight recess between your eyebrows and your eyes (since your skull evolved into this shape in order to protect your eyes). Unless you are standing directly in front of or above a light source, then less light is going to reach this area. So, it will look slightly shadowy.

3) It won’t be perfect: Chances are, the shading in the preview at the beginning of this article isn’t perfect. I’ve probably made at least a couple of small mistakes.

Yet, I’m still fairly proud of how this painting turned out for the simple reason that it looks more realistic than the paintings I was making a few days earlier. It also looks at least mildly better than my previous attempt at adding realistic shadows to a painting that I’d made the previous day.

If you’re learning something new, you probably aren’t going to get it right the first time (or even the second, third etc… time). But, this doesn’t matter. What matters is that you do it at least slightly better than the last time you tried it. In other words, if it looks good in comparison to your previous painting, then you’re doing it right.

For example, here’s a close-up of the preview and the painting I made the day before. Both of them include attempts at adding more realistic shadows to people’s faces, but the more recent one also includes better shading in the area around the character’s nose.

This is an example of how practice makes perfect, albeit gradually.

So, yes, you will need to practice more than once. But, the thing to remember is that even a barely-noticeable improvement is still an improvement.


Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

It’s Yet Another Line Art Preview… Again

Well, since I wasn’t quite satisfied with the article I’d originally planned to post today, I thought that I’d show off some of the “work in progress” line art for some of the paintings I’ll be posting here next year instead.

Although most of these will be realistic photo-based landscapes (since I’ve had less time than usual when preparing many of the paintings which will appear here in the first few months of next year), there will be at least one sci-fi picture in this preview 🙂

Anyway, enjoy 🙂

“Titchfield Abbey – Towers (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

“Tipner Lake – Mirror (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

“Formation (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

“Tipner Lake – Mist (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

“Hilsea – Bridge (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

“Tipner Lake – Bridge (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

Today’s Art (17th April 2018)

Woo hoo! It’s the 17th April and this means that it’s time to remake the same picture that I’ve remade every year since I decided to start practicing art daily. You can see previous versions of the picture here: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 & 2017.

It’s strange to think that a silly little cartoon I drew six years ago about the well-known joke that pretty much anything will run “Doom” turned into such a major life-shaping moment for me.

And, in keeping with the theme, this year’s cartoon is a topical comic about how some really cool-looking modern “Doom II” WADs (especially those designed to use “GZ Doom”) have system requirements that are way too high! Seriously, the whole point of classic “Doom” is that it’s meant to be able to run on anything! It’s meant to be free from the exclusionary “must have the absolutely latest tech” BS that plagues modern triple-A gaming. But, well, I could ramble for ages about this. So, here’s the latest version of the picture. Enjoy 🙂

As usual, this digitally-edited painting is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

“The Important Question (VII)” By C. A. Brown

Three Tips For Making Daily Art More Easily

Well, since it’s six years to the day since I made the decision to make a piece of art every day, I thought that I’d talk about daily artwork today. Whilst daily art certainly isn’t for everyone, it does have some really cool benefits – it gets you used to making art, it accelerates your art practice, it reduces perfectionism and it means that you learn how to deal with being uninspired sometimes.

Whilst I’ve almost certainly already talked about how to get started with making daily art (eg: start with smaller pictures, have a “buffer” of pre-made art that you add to daily etc..) I thought that I’d talk about some ways to make making daily art easier, since it can seem like an intimidatingly difficult task if you’ve never done it before.

1) Backup plans: Your imagination probably isn’t “100% reliable”. Sometimes, it won’t work when it should. However, this doesn’t mean that your art schedule can’t be 100% reliable! If you have an array of backup plans for imagination failure, then making art daily will be considerably easier.

These include things like knowing which types of paintings you can make in your sleep (eg: for me, this is landscapes and still life paintings), finding some old out-of-copyright paintings you can make studies of when you aren’t inspired, having several favourite genres of art (in case you get bored with one of them), knowing how to salvage paintings that haven’t worked out well etc…

When you make art every day, don’t expect to produce a masterpiece every day. The important thing when making daily art is to produce (and post) something every day. So, having backup plans that still allow you to produce (lower-quality) art on uninspired days are essential. Not to mention that you’ll pick up more and more sophisticated techniques for doing this as you practice more.

For example, here’s a “low inspiration” picture that I posted here earlier this month:

“Another Metropolis” By C. A. Brown

This is a cyberpunk painting that relies much more heavily than usual on silhouettes and gloomy lighting in order to reduce the amount of fine detail I had to add to the picture. This allowed me to make a piece of daily art when my inspiration, enthusiasm and/or time were running low. Is it the best painting I’ve ever made? No way! Is it better than posting literally nothing? YES!

Best of all, find techniques that can be varied depending on your current inspiration level. For example, here’s another picture of mine that uses gloomier lighting than usual (in order to reduce the area that I have to add detail to).

“Corner” By C. A. Brown

However, since I was feeling more inspired, I was able to increase the size of the detailed area to about 50% of the total surface area of the painting.

2) Materials: Regardless of what the “trendy” artists on the internet are using these days, go for the materials that you feel work best for you. If you are most at ease with drawing with a pencil or ballpoint pen, then use this! If you like using coloured pencils, then use this! If you like making digital art, then use this!

It took me a while to settle on which materials worked best for me. These days, I use a combination of waterproof ink pens, watercolour pencils (pencils that turn into watercolour paint when you go over them with a wet paintbrush), a scanner and a couple of old digital image editing programs. When I started making daily art, I used inking pens, coloured pencils and digital tools (for about two years). So, it’s ok to experiment until you find what works for you.

When choosing materials, go for a balance between practicality, cost and aesthetics. If you’re making art every day, then your materials need to be practical enough to use every day (and possibly portable too). You’re going to burn through art supplies more quickly if you’re making art every day, so go for ones that won’t break the bank. But, at the same time, go for art supplies that make your art look like something that you want to make more of.

3) Rationing: When I started making daily art, I used to produce as many pictures as I could every day. It was new, exciting and interesting. But, whilst this helped me to build up a “buffer” of art, it isn’t a good long-term strategy. And, yes, daily art is a long-term thing. It’s a marathon, rather than a sprint.

So, set limits on how much art you make every day. In my case, this is usually one painting per day. Making one painting a day means that, on inspired days, I’m excited to make art the next day. And, during uninspired times, it means that I’ll only end up making 1-7 low-quality uninspired pictures rather than the much larger number I would make if I pushed myself to make as much art as possible. It preserves inspiration and limits the damage caused by uninspiration.

It also stops you overloading yourself too. Since making daily art will quickly become an ordinary part of your daily routine, it needs to be something that you can actually do every day. So, carefully ration the amount of art you make every day or limit the amount of time you spend making art every day. Although it might sound counter-intuitive, having some kind or rationing means that you’ll be able to make more art for longer.


Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂