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Digital Painting for the Beginner: L3

Deep in the Woods!

Author: Roger Elliot, Associate Editor

Well, judging from your e-mails we seem to have struck a nerve with this digital art series! Being an older fellow, I guess I am just beginning to realize the tremendous impact that computers are having on our lives. It makes sense that, as art is a basic expressive instinct to the human species, rendering it on the computer is a natural extension of our need to create.

I have received many letters asking me to continue the series and rampant among those were ones asking that I keep the offerings quite simple for a while, in order to enable everyone to become familiar with the program. With that in mind I now offer up another easy-to-do little painting that I hope will aid in our quest to learn about art on the computer.

Let me know your feelings. Should I continue with the easier paintings or move on to more complex subjects? Should I do both a "basic" course AND an "advanced" course? Drop me an e-mail at [email protected] and let me know your thoughts. Remember, Wetcanvas! and ArtSchool Online are here for you! Your vote counts!

I call this little painting "Deep in the Woods". You call yours whatever you wish!

Tools You'll Likely Use in This Lesson
It's symbol looks like a little airbrush gun.
The symbol looks like a small brush with a partial handle.
This symbol looks like a hand with one finger extended.
Used to "select" an area of the canvas (it's shape can be changed, too)
Used to select a color for your palette from an existing color on your canvas.
As advertised, the eraser tool erases pixels from your canvas!

Again, I am using Adobe Photoshop 4.0 LE. I am told that there are many other programs that can easily be used in this manner. Let's get going. Have fun!

After opening the program go to "File" and select "New". A screen will appear asking for the canvas size. If it appears in inches, change the two top dropdowns to "pixels" and enter the values of; 550 for the width and 450 for the height. Click "OK" and the blank canvas will appear. Go to "View" and select "Fit on Screen". We are now ready to go!

Now go to the top color box and click on it. When the color box comes up go to the sliding scroll bar to the right of the box and select a green TO THE BLUE SIDE. Our aim here is to get a rather dark green that looks very much like Phthalo Green or Viridian. Once you have the color you wish click "OK" and then choose the airbrush tool. Spray in color as I have done here.

I know this looks crazy! Stay with me folks:)! Now click on the top color box and USING the SAME screen that appears choose a very light green near to the top left of the color box. NOT THE LIGHTEST but nearby! Choose the airbrush tool and then go to the "Brushes" tab and select a medium size. Spray these "dots" of white by depressing the mouse ONCE. Make the dots random and be sure to leave spaces of green between them. Avoid "lining" them up in rows. Keep them random.

Now take the smudge tool and select a rather large brush size. Run the smudge tool UP and Down over the dots until you have a canvas that looks something like this. Be careful not to overwork the dots at this point. All we are looking for here is a general appearance.

Now we go to the top color box and select a subdued brown and, using the airbrush tool we lay in a few streaks of what will become some distant trees. I switch between two different tones of brown so as to keep some variation in the work. After I have laid in the distant trees I use the smudge tool to further "fade" the trees into the distance. I use this smudge tool up and down on the trees and I make an attempt to place them randomly although since these will be pine trees, they do appear a bit like "telephone poles" at this stage.

Now, selecting a very subdued brown, I add a few branches to the far away trees. Just a few, and remember, pine trees are famous for the way their limbs grow. The limbs attempt to grow UP and they do for a short distance, but they fail in this attempt and "sag" down. Keep this very subtle and if your limbs seem to be a bit pronounced, smudge them with your smudge tool. I know this is quite dark but remember, we are "Deep in the Woods"! :)

In keeping with the old adage that "a painting ought to go someplace", I have added a little path. At this stage, I keep this a rather dark brown. We may wish to add some additional highlights in a while, but for now, keep it quite dark. We want to keep that "deep woods" feeling and not light it up too much until we see where we are going.

Using a medium green, I now spray in some color on each side of the path. You'll notice that I have "taken back" some of the sides so as to get away from the "square" look. Also, I shoot in some bushes which we will lighten up a bit in the next step. Again, I know that this looks quite dark, and we may lighten things up a bit later, but, for now, we know that not much light can get this deep into the woods.

Here I have selected three of the background trees and by holding the eyedropper tool over them I get the color of the tree and extend them down onto the grass. I add a TOUCH of highlight onto these trees and I also add a few limbs of a darker value. I have finally added a touch of light in the foreground grass.

I've added a big tree on the left and as you can see, I have now added some light into the painting. Since we now have the tree lit up on the right side we must add some light into the grass which I have done. A highlight or two on the path also, and since I don't care to deal with the base of the tree I have added some grass to hide that pesky tree bottom. :)

Add another large tree on the right side and put as much detail as you can in this one. And there you have a little painting that is very simple and easy to paint. Have fun with it and remember; you can do exactly this same painting in other media by following these steps.

If you wish, in subsequent offerings I will put in the instructions for paints along with each step. Just let me know what you would like. These are meant to be just fun little paintings so .... have fun!!