One Quick Trick For Making Your Art Look Vivid

2014 Artwork Vivid pictures article sketch

As regular readers of this blog and/or viewers of my DeviantART gallery probably know, my art tends to have a fairly distinctive “vivid” look to it. Although I’ve briefly explained how I make my art look like this a few times before, I thought that I’d look at it in slightly more depth in this article.

Before we begin, I should point out that this technique only works for scanned and/or digitally photographed art. As such, you’ll need a graphics editing program of some kind or another. If you don’t have one, then there’s a fairly good free open source program called “GIMP” that can be downloaded here.

Anyway, after I scan my drawings and paintings, they generally tend to look slightly “faded” and kind of (for want of a better description) flat and lifeless. They don’t really stand out or jump out at you. They’re just ordinary, boring and inoffensive.

To show you what I mean, here’s a direct scan of two drawings I made in 2010:

"Azure Plaza And Aces" By C. A. Brown [27th December 2010]

“Azure Plaza And Aces” By C. A. Brown [27th December 2010]

Now, here’s one of my more recent paintings from a few weeks ago – as you can probably see, the whole picture stands out a lot more:

"Mother Ivey's Bay" By C. A. Brown

“Mother Ivey’s Bay” By C. A. Brown

So, how do I do this?

Simple. I just adjust the brightness and contrast levels of the picture digitally after I’ve scanned it.

It can take a bit of experimentation to get the levels right, but I generally keep the contrast level fairly high (eg: 60-70) and keep the brightness level fairly low (eg: -20 to -60). Seriously, you’d be surprised at what a difference this can make to your picture.

Since “brightness/contrast” is a fairly basic thing to adjust, almost all graphics editing programs will usually have an option that allows you to adjust them.

Yes, it doesn’t matter if you are using an antique version of Paint Shop Pro from the 1990s (like I do) or whether you’re using the latest version of Photoshop, this option will be there somewhere.

For example, if you’re using “GIMP“, then the “brightness/contrast” option can be found in the “colours” menu at the top of the screen:

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE]

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE]

Anyway, once you’ve found it, just lower the brightness slightly and raise the contrast and your picture will instantly look a lot more vivid and interesting.

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Sorry for the astonishingly short article, but I hope that it was useful 🙂

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The Joy Of…. Gloomy Art

2014 Artwork Gloomy Art article sketch

As regular readers of this blog and/or my DeviantART gallery will know, I like to make gloomy art. No, that’s not true. I love making gloomy art.

Probably at least two-thirds of my drawings and paintings either take place at night, during gloomy weather or (my personal favourite) at sunset. Hell, I even made a comic series in 2013 which took place entirely at night:

Wow! THIS is a blast from the past...

Wow! THIS is a blast from the past…

On the uncommon occasions that I make brighter paintings, they often just seem like they’re… well… missing something.

For want of a better description, they just kind of seem pale, bland, “flat” and boring. To me at least, my brighter art doesn’t really quite feel as “artistic” as my gloomier paintings and drawings.

See what I mean!  ("The Old Path" By C. A. Brown)

See what I mean!
(“The Old Path” By C. A. Brown)

In a way, I guess that gloom and darkness are a kind of artistic “shortcut” for making something atmospheric and dramatic. Not only that, I tend to be something of a night owl (if not completely nocturnal) who prefers colder weather – so gloom, rain and darkness seems a lot more “friendly” and “normal” to me than they might do for many other people.

The other cool thing about making darker paintings is that they allow me to explore the contrast between light and darkness (and play with these things) much more effectively than in brighter paintings.

For example, if I paint a glowing cube or a neon light, then it’s going to stand out a lot more in a gloomy painting than it does in a bright painting. Likewise, bright colours stand out a lot more against a dark background too. Like this:

"EP" By C. A. Brown

“EP” By C. A. Brown

But, of course, not all artists are interested in making gloomy art. In fact, many of the world’s most famous paintings are all fairly bright and are mostly set during the day. I can’t remember where I read or heard this but, according to some survey or other, most people see the ideal form of art as being a primarily pale blue, green and nature-based painting.

This is probably just me, but I can’t quite understand the thought processes that go into producing nothing but bright art. I personally can’t quite understand the enthusiasm behind producing this kind of art.

Sure, if I think that a bright background works best for a particular painting, then I’ll include it – but it always feels very slightly weird when I do this:

"Time Travel" By C. A. Brown

“Time Travel” By C. A. Brown

And, in a way, I guess that this whole subject is something that it often overlooked when people talk about their own art styles. After all, your preferred brightness levels for your art are as much a part of your art style as, say, the way that you draw faces.

And, if you’re fully aware of whether you prefer painting brighter or gloomier art, then you can use this fact to your advantage when you are feeling uninspired.

If, for example, you know that you absolutely thrive when you’re making gloomier art then you can easily decide that your next painting will be gloomy. Yes, you might still not know exactly what to paint but, at the very least, you’ll now have a very general idea of what your next painting will look like.

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Sorry that this article was so short, but I hope it was interesting 🙂