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Digital Painting for the Beginner: L4

A Digital Sunset

Author: Roger Elliot, Associate Editor

Well, here we go again! I sincerely hope that you are enjoying these little paintings and that you are learning, as I am, how to do some art at your keyboard. It is a never-ending job here at Wetcanvas! keeping the largest art site on the net going each day and these little paintings give me a much needed respite from the rigors of hours at the computer. It is my hope that you too, will find the time you spend doing these paintings to be a few minutes of fun and relaxation.

I won't go through the details of how to open the program. Those who have been following along will know this information and those of you who are joining for the first time may wish to review lessons 1, 2, and 3. I will tell you that an ideal canvas size for this painting is about 600 pixels in width and about 450 in height. Let us begin!

I call this little ditty my "Digital Sunset". You may, of course, call yours anything 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!

The first thing I do once the canvas appears is to select the darkest black I can find and paint the entire canvas black using the airbrush tool. Of course, here on the site we have reduced the image in order to conserve space so don't let that throw you. Your canvas will be much larger!

Now, clicking on the top color box, I find the BRIGHTEST yellow I can locate. I spray this, using the airbrush tool, in a somewhat round form SLIGHTLY OFF CENTER. It is generally accepted that placing your center of interest, dead center of the painting, is not proper. I could go into a long dissertation about how to divide your canvas into thirds, etc. but we will save all that "painting technique" for the more advanced lessons. :)

Staying within that same color box, I select a somewhat subdued yellow and spray that in a circle around the initial yellow. Be sure that you do not leave any black showing between these two circles. That would come back to haunt you later! I know what you are thinking! "Roger, are you nuts?" Well yes, but then that's a topic for another venue. :) Just hang in there with me on this one.

Now you must choose the top color box and move the right scroll bar down until you arrive at a bright orange. Select this and spray a circle of that color around the subdued yellow. Again, making sure not to leave any black showing. You may notice that I have made this ring a bit larger than the others.

Now, staying within that same color box, select a bit deeper (darker) orange and spray this in a circle as before. You'll notice that the idea here is to get progressively darker as we work toward the edges.

Is this getting boring? :) Hang in there, we will have some fun in just a few minutes! I have now selected a darker orange (brown) from that same color box and I spray this just as before. NO BLACK showing!!

I have now selected a very dark brown from that same color box. As a matter of fact, it is so dark that you may not be able to see it here. I have sprayed it just as the others. Finally, we have finished these pesky circles!! You might print this off and use it for target practice with a bow and arrow but I have something different in mind. :)

Using the smudge tool, I am now working in small circles and I begin from the INSIDE (bright yellow) and work OUT toward the perimeter! The whole idea here is to make the yellow get progressively darker as you work toward the edges of your painting.

Continue working out toward the edges in small circles until you are completely out into the black. Your canvas should look something like this. Of course, just as with painting, no two canvas' will look exactly alike. Just get a result that you are pleased with.

Here I have used the paintbrush tool and I have set it on the next to smallest brush size from the "brushes" tab. I lay in what will be a hillside of trees in silhouette. Not much detail here. Remember, this painting is not called trees, it's called sunset, so be aware of your subject and don't let the negative space overwhelm your subject. You might notice that I have taken one liberty. I have put the tallest trees on both sides of the brightest yellow. As an artist, you are the conductor of this orchestra. Your job is to direct the viewer's attention to where you want them to look. The two trees, though subtle, frame the subject and pull the eye toward the sunset.

Here I have done two things; I have sprayed some black up under the trees in order to give my little hill some bulk. I carry this black to the edge of my canvas. You may not see it but it gives the feeling of continuity. The second thing is to take the smudge tool and pass it ACROSS the portion below the hill. We want this to be reflection in a little lake so we must lay this down flat. If you want it to "shimmer", pass the smudge tool over it left to right, then right to left, and so forth.

And now to finish up! Here I have selected the brightest yellow I could find and I have used the paintbrush tool to lay in a small water line against the base of the hill. Don't run this all the way to the edge of the canvas. Remember, we want this to go into darkness. Lay in the water line and stop back from the darkness, then use the smudge tool to "pull" it toward the darkness. Also, here I have shot on some foliage in black on this side of the lake. Not much detail here! I pulled up a few grassy things with the paintbrush tool using a very small brush size. Now if you or your friends are into vivid color and sunsets, this one will be a hit! Have fun with it and add whatever YOU think would look good. Remember, you are the artist, you and you alone decide what you want in your picture. Hope you enjoy.