If you recall me talking about Austin Batchelor before, then you are right! I previously featured him here back on Artists Resource no 10. And now I’m back with a more specific review of one his online courses found at Udemy: Digitally Painting Light and Color: Amateur to Master.
I happened to take this class while also reading James Gurney’s similarly titled book which I reviewed on Artists Resource no 13; this course interestingly parallels many of the same topic as Gurney’s book. If I had to take a bet, I suspect Batchelor has used this book as a reference outline for some, but not all, of his Udemy courses. That is not a judgement, but merely an observation which makes this course particularly well-suited to act as an “unofficial” set of practicals that nicely compliments many key concepts introduced by Gurney. But, whereas Gurney, and by an extension a book, can only describe how might one accomplish varying forms of light, Batchelor demonstrates this concepts in practice leveraging an iPad Pro and Procreate.
The course, in broad brushstrokes (bad pun?), includes: 1) understanding light; 2) understanding value; 3) light and form; 4) sources of light; 5) color relationships; and, 6) surfaces and effects. While he is light (again, bad pun?) in some sections, they provide sufficient depth to provide context for other sections where he dives deeper into how to take key concepts and implement them.
A lovely add by Batchelor is the inclusion of the base file used through the sessions, allowing you to follow along by importing into your own version of Procreate (or favorite digital tool). While his instructions are catered to Procreate, there is nothing specific to Procreate that cannot be translated, if not directly, to other applications.
The repeated use of the same subject material has the benefit of allowing you to build a holistic understanding of how all this techniques and concepts converge; enabling you to understand a single subject more completely than had Austin elected to vary subjects. This is very similar to Gurney’s use of Abraham Lincoln’s bust, but Batchelor opts to use a bust more suited for folks interested in fantasy art (yay!). That said, the subject he uses has enough variety to provide ample opportunities, in the last section, to delve into a variety points of minutiae that, while not necessarily profound, really help you develop a sense of depth by layering techniques together.
Assuming you have some basic understanding of light and form already, then the first few sections can be easily skipped over, albeit, I think they do sufficient justice to the topics if albeit in a very summary manner. Where I think the greatest value can be extracted is from sections on light and form, and sources of light. This is where Batchelor really shines (no pun intended), as his chosen subject gets repeatedly re-introduced under varying conditions of lighting. And this is where you can watch in real-time Batchelor apply a specific lighting condition to the subject. And because the video output from Procreate shows everything he is doing, you also can glean a significant amount of insight from his workflow.
Finally, while I did not think the section on Color Relationships provides significant value, similar to his introductory sections earlier in the course, there is nevertheless value to be had from his final section, Surfaces and Effects.
Like most Udemy courses, I would not recommend paying list price – this is not a condemnation of Batchelor or the course, but more that I suspect Udemy intentionally sets prices high so they can sell them low. That said, I encourage you to wait till Udemy provides a discount (which feels like all the time), or follow Batchelor himself as he occasionally offers his courses at a pretty steep discount. But even at its list price, it is not a bad value. And honestly, if you are getting into digital art and already own an iPad Pro and Procreate, then Batchelor is singularly your best internet resource for getting up to speed on both Procreate and digital art, all in one place.
I should note that Bachelor has a fairly active closed Facebook group where students are invited to share their progress. He is good at providing feedback, and in this regard, I think he provides a much needed community for every aspiring artist, especially as many of the online communicates for digital artists revolves around professionals seeking eyeballs rather than people legitimately seeking comments and critiques. I might argue that for some people, the price of the course is worth it just to have access to a closed and curated digital artist community, especially for people still relatively new to digital art.
To wrap it all up, if you have any interest in color and light, and you are also trying to master a digital workflow then Bachelor’s Udemy course is a steal at any price. I highly recommend you go out and purchase it now.