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your thoughts: digital verses 'natural' brush marks

Posted by Johnn on Fri, 20/03/09 - 6:30 PM
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I recently commenced painting a large digital painting. I'm using Photohshop for the project and I've become acutely aware of the textures and brush marks that are developing and their distinctily digital look. I'm a fan of 'natural' textures and initially worked to eliminate these relatively mechanical ones but this in turn is making the painting look over worked and lifeless.

The more I think about it the more I believe I should actively embrace these digital textures and accept they are the natural result of the process. I was wondering what others thought about textures that are obviously digital in origin within paintings. Are they accepted by viewers as an enriching element in the same way traditional brush marks often are?


Submitted by souri on Mon, 23/03/09 - 12:38 AM Permalink

Can you post some examples so we can see the differences? Would be highly interested to see them! I think I sorta know what you mean by distincly digital concept art (ones that have so many straight lines and look just too perfect).

Submitted by Johnn on Tue, 24/03/09 - 6:31 PM Permalink

the example below is what I am talking about in part at least. I'm trying to embrace the stylised 'brush' marks that the photohshop brushes make and their lack of sophistication with how each brush stroke interacts (or doesn't to be accurate) with other brush strokes and their regularity of shape/weight/opacity etc.

I might have to revisit the topic of custom brushes in photoshop, although they often have the same issues of lack of interaction between brush strokes. I think I've been spoilt with Painters excellent brush engine :(

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 25/03/09 - 12:27 AM Permalink

U can definitely do more natural style brush strokes in photoshop.. the assumption u made with that picture shows ur a little misinformed with what photoshop is capable of nowadays. I cant blame ya, its hard to keep up with software advances these days :)

I think you'll find u can adjust the Flow in ur brush settings to get rid of that jittering effect. Definitely go into ur brush presets and have a mess around, theres a multitude of different effects u can make with adjusting some settings in there.. thats the basics even before getting into any advanced custom brushes etc, which are fun to make, and there are heaps to download on the net, just do a google search. I have used painter in a while, so i cant really compare, which is more 'naturalistic', but photoshop is definitely not limited these types of brush strokes..

In terms of embracing the distinctly digital look, i think its a progressive thing that will happen over time. There is still the stigma of traditional painting somehow being better or more respected, and thus digital artists tend to often try and mimic the look of oil paint and other traditional mediums. I think this is what generally happens when new technology arrives, the technology or new practitioners tend to mimick the certain subtle nuances of the old technology, whether that be the brush strokes from a paintbrush, or with digital film makers mimicking traditional camera lenses, lens effects etc. even though these 'restrictions', or nuances, are not inherent in the new technology.

I recommend a search for a guy named Andrew Jones, he is one artist that comes to mind who is definitely embracing the distinct qualities and possibilities of digital art.

Submitted by Johnn on Wed, 25/03/09 - 12:50 PM Permalink

I should have probably qualifed that the example I posted was to highlight detail that is distinctly digital verses natural and not my attempt to producing a 'natural' photoshop brush. The question I'm raising is whether this obviously digital detail is more or less satisflying than detail that resembles natural media.

You sort of summed up what I was getting at: "There is still the stigma of traditional painting somehow being better or more respected". I'm a fan of the asthetics of natural brush work and until now guilty of supporting this stigma to some extent (I do enjoy uniquely digital details in other peoples works, but generally not my own! ...and I think natural blending of marks creates a richer and more subtle result for less effort). But it has occured to me that the brush textures are no more or less valid than artificial textures (neither are realistic renderings of subject matter) and i should possibly embrace this point of view to a greater extent.

...urrr does any of that make sense?

Submitted by bozza on Thu, 26/03/09 - 11:04 AM Permalink

Ive found i prefer Corel Painter to Photoshop when it comes to trying to replicate traditional sort of painting (hence the name of the Corel program i guess, heh). So it might be worthwhile having a look at that if you're finding you're not liking Photoshop for that stuff.

edit: In reading your second reply it seems you might already have been using Painter previously...

Submitted by Johnn on Mon, 30/03/09 - 1:04 PM Permalink

Yes I have Bozza, I've been using Painter for a couple of years now as my preferred tool for digital painting. I intially tried it because of the rotate canvas feature (super handy for sketching) but kept using it because the subtley of the paint interaction is really really excellent, far more complex than Photoshop's brush/canvas interaction.

I'm (unfortunately) consolidating my software suite and looking at phasing Painter out of my tool kit. I can do illustration with Photoshop but I can't do graphics with Painter, so Adobe Suite has won. Photoshop just implemented rotate canvas too, last nail in the coffin for that decision!).

That of course means I need to reaquaint myself with Photoshop as an illustration tool and set it up for that purpose again, which brought me to ponder: are the non-natural brush marks that photoshop can make worthy for addition to my brush set?

I think I haven't expressed this question very clearly here though, people seem to have interpreted it as 'Can/how do I make Photoshop do brush marks like Painter?'. Anon did comment that it was likely artificial brush marks would become more accepted over time, which implies they are not there yet, but was at least answering my question.

...On the off chance that anyone has read this far, and to move the train of thought along, does any one have examples of artifical textures used in digital painting that they think are cool?