Artist Resource no 14: Digitally Painting Light and Color: Amateur to Master

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.

Artist Resource No 13: Color and Light

If you haven’t already, I encourage you read my post on color theory.

If you are not familiar with James Gurney, you are likely familiar with his works as creator of Dinotopia.  James is an exceedingly accomplished artist, with a well established reputation for creating exceedingly realistic renderings even when the material is often fantastical in nature.

He has written a few books for artists, and I wanted to take a moment to talk more specifically about Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter.  If you are looking for a practical guide to color theory then look no further.  If not the seminal work on the matter, it is nevertheless a tome that any serious artist can afford to ignore.

What sets this book apart is that James introduces concepts on a per 2-page pace.  Each page is filled with examples of the particular topic he is discussing, both from his and other’s portfolios.  His writing is concise and provides sufficient information to help you grasp the key concepts behind the topic.  Generally speaking, each topic lends itself to the proceeding topic such that I recommend people start from the beginning and work their way toward the back, unless you are already relatively familiar with all the topics covered.

In total, there are 12 chapters, or:

  1. Tradition
  2. Source of Light
  3. Light and Form
  4. Elements of Color
  5. Paint and Pigments
  6. Color Relationships
  7. Premixing
  8. Visual Perception
  9. Surfaces and Effects
  10. Atmospheric Effects
  11. Light’s Changing Show
  12. Resources

James starts out by talking about traditional art and how it evolved in relation to color and light.  While brief, this section helps establish how we’ve arrived at the subsequent sections of the book.  Next, he moves on to sources of light, each two-page topic within the section helping you quickly understand what things to consider to render these different light sources realistically.  He then moves onto Light and Form, followed by Elements of Color.  There are a few chapters such as Paint and Pigments, and Premixing that, while I read, can likely be ignored for digital artists.  Nevertheless, even these chapters are, I think, useful to every artist for the simple fact that James sneaks in sage advice on every single page.

What I appreciate maybe most about his book is his rather exhaustive, at least for an art book, list of resources in Chapter 12.  He includes both print and online resources, some of which I’ve referenced in previous posts.

While the book is not intended for a neophyte, the material is nevertheless laid out in a fashion that allows even the uneducated masses such as myself a toe-hold on page 1, and every page works to ensure you do not get lost in the wealth of information and insights James has to offer the reader.  I cannot recommend this book highly enough: go and buy it now!

If you prefer to watch, rather than read, more about this book, then Jason Morgan does an excellent job going through virtually every page of the book.  I highly recommend you watch his review beloe.

Artist Resources No 12: Proko

Proko, aka Stan Prokopenko, is now an online institutional resource for all things on learning to draw the fundamentals of anatomy. He studied and taught at Watts Atelier, a notable artist workshop located in Southern California established by the venerable Jeff Watts. It is here where he established himself as a portrait and caricature artist. Over the years, he produced a number of videos which can be found on YouTube, notably it is his very accessible videos on the Loomis method which helped kick off the Proko craze. You can also access additional videos at his site, http://www.proko.com, both free and for a premium.

Stan has a lot of personality, and it really shines in the videos he and his team post online. Stan has also done a number of interviews you can find online. More recently, Chris Oatley of the Oatley Academy interviewed Stan on his ArtCast episode 107 on the virtue of distractions can help you become a more focused artist.

On top of all the books, online library of tutorials, and generally sage advice that Proko dishes out in great volumes he has also created an iOS app Skelly, that provides you, the artist, with instantly poseable human figures. The app works as a compliment to Proko’s own tutorials on how to build the human anatomy without reference, freeing the artist to create believable, fluid poses of humans from any angle.

Artist Resources No 11: Andrew Loomis

You may not have heard of Andrew Loomis, but you’ve nevertheless been influenced by his approach to drawing. He crops up again and again in online communities discussing the fundamentals of learning to draw, having influenced a number of folks now teaching art. To wit, the Loomis method for drawing heads has continued to influence artists to this date, long past his sharing of it in Drawing the Head & Hands.

Andrew Loomis was an illustrator and author who wrote some of seminal books on how to draw for aspiring artists in the 20th century. While his books read as dated, having been written immediately following WWII, the material and methods he outline are entirely accessible to the modern reader. As I will share in a future post, Stan Prokopenko (aka Proko) first garnered a bit of a reputation for a YouTube post that showed the Loomis method in action, as it were.

For the longest time his books were out of print, and could only be found as excerpts from Walter Foster Publishing. Then, between 2011 and 2013, Titan Books reprinted facsimile editions of the originals which can now be found for purchase through Amazon.com. Alternately, you can download PDFs from sites such as Alexhays.com which has the mission of saving Andrew Loomis’ works for future generations. You can decide whether you want to pay for a printed version, or simply download the PDFs which can be added to Kindle, iBook or other computer reader app.

Artist Resources No 10: Austin Batchelor

Austin Batchelor is a working, professional artist who has create a number of online resources for the aspiring digital artist. What I appreciate about Austin’s contributions is the accessibility of his videos, whether you find his free content on YouTube, or paid courses on Udemy.com.

Austin leverages the excellent Procreate.app on iPad, further making his suggested workflows and processes very accessible to anyone on a budget. Aside: I would argue that the cost of an iPad Pro, Apple Pencil and Procreate.app are likely the least expensive, complete digital studio solution you can purchase assuming you are starting from nothing.

Finally, if you happen to purchase his courses on Udemy, he also provides an invite-only Facebook group where you can share your progress and work with others. If you are not already, both receiving and providing critical feedback is an integral part of growing as an artist.