View Full Version : Transition from "CARTOON like" art to reality art (like photos)- ADVICE needed!

03-16-2012, 06:06 AM
Dear artists, I am reaching for help. My question is: "How is it possible to achieve reality look (like photograph) in the art?" Is it choice of the color tints & shades? is it by using special tools/brushes? Is it by NOT letting the paint layer dry all the way to allow the colors interact?or other aspects? I am talking about art in mediums: charcoal, graphite pencil, soft pastels and acrylics/oils.
My subject are animals, mostly horses and dogs and it give me a hard time to make them look real, alive.
Here are some of my artworks to give you an idea about the point I am currently in. I have been working with graphite for long years, I am quite newbie to acrylics and pastels. Advice & healthy critique welcome.




And this is the point where I wanna get with my graphite(following artwork is by M.D`Angelo and K.Timmons):
Images removed by moderator.

03-16-2012, 07:40 AM
It's just a simple matter of making all the shapes and proportions more accurate, getting in more detail, and doing a finer and more accurate job of shading and color. However, photo-realism isn't really the main point in art and is a dead end in and of itself. You need more than just realism in art. Personally I do like realism, but there's more to art. I think art is more about evoking emotions in people than anything else.

I'm guessing you haven't taken art classes. It would help to take classes in drawing from a good teacher. But make sure you get a teacher who teaches skills, not one of those modern art people who don't believe in skills.

There are some good books on realistic drawing. Start with "Drawing from the Right side of the Brain." There's another book on drawing extremely realistically with pencils, but I forgot the title.

03-16-2012, 08:21 AM
The main things for your work to look more realistic is to vary the edges (soften the ones that recede) and don't "stylize" as much. By adding a hint of a background you'll also give the figures a real space to live in.
Most people think adding more and more detail will do what you want, but the truth is, "realism" can be much less about detail and much more about painterly and loose. You can avoid the "cut and paste" look to your art by doing things to blend the figures more into the background.

03-16-2012, 08:47 AM
In my first life drawing class, one time I drew with a graphite pencil a man's face from a live model. I didn't have the training or the time for a highly polished graphite pencil technique, so the drawing had a lot of scratchy strokes, but nevertheless it made a big impact in that when you looked at that drawing, you felt like you were looking at a living person. So it was highly realistic in that sense, even though it wasn't a polished, photo-realistic type of drawing.

03-16-2012, 09:38 AM
If your goal is to produce photorealistic animals, I'd post your pieces, one at a time, in the Animals and Wildllife forum and the drawing forum, along with your photo references, and tell them that's your goal and ask for critiques. They'll help you see where you are drifting from your reference.

However, I'm with the others, I personally like your style, it's a little on the fantasy side, especiallly the last one w the red background.

03-16-2012, 09:47 AM
There is as many different types of art as there are artists, to become a photorealist, I would suggest watching the Five pencil method from Darrel Tank
http://www.fivepencilmethod.com/, very great free tutorials here and the full course is great as well worth the money. For painting I would suggest getting The Carder Method, http://www.thecardermethod.com/, great artist Mark Carder and teaches in a very easy way of learning, you don't have to be a Genius or anything!!!

03-16-2012, 10:28 AM
I think you need to pay attention to your shading more than anything else. You don't do a good job with the shading. You need to make your shading more full-range and render lots of different levels of light and darkness and make sure that these levels accurately match the source. Also you need to transition more smoothly and gradually from darker areas to lighter areas. Your shading lacks a gradual transition from light to dark. It's just a light area shoved up abruptly against a dark area. Even though you do use shading, your art doesn't look three-dimensional. It looks more like your shading is kind of random, haphazard, and slopilly executed, so that you don't get the three dimensional effect that shading is supposed to achieve. You need to pay attention to how the light changes and how fast it changes as you go over different parts of the image. When I look at your art I don't get a sense of where the light source is. Your whole painting/drawing has the same light level all over it.

Greg Long
03-16-2012, 01:46 PM
Moved to A&W.

03-16-2012, 02:05 PM
They are beautiful paintings but for photo realism I think the most important thing is light and shadow. Look at your reference pictures maybe even upside down and don't look at them as a subject just the light and shadow I am not an expert so just my humble opinion but nice paintings as they are.

online art
03-16-2012, 04:34 PM
Interesting question.

From my point of view if you want to recreate photo-realism, then you need to be able to duplicate the photo on canvas etc bear in mind that just because something is photo realistic it is not necessarily more real looking than a skillfully painted subject. I have seem many painting that look MORE realistic than a photo. Some artists reading this will know exactly what I mean.

If you want to paint something that looks exactly like a photo try looking at your photo in photoshop or a similar program, zoom in, study the colours, tones etc then you need to be able to mix that colour / tone etc exactly the same and apply it to your canvas, one area at a time, bit by bit.

It really is not easy to paint photo-realistically and artists I know that do it take months / weeks to do each painting.

03-16-2012, 06:15 PM
I think your work is rather lovely and fresh, especially the work in graphite. However, in my personal opinion the backgrounds of the acrylics are far too strong - a softer effect would enhance your paintings. Gail

03-16-2012, 11:47 PM
Aside from proportions and such, the best tip I can suggest is to think of the subject animal as you would any other part of a painting.
A painting that "works" always has a Background, midground, and foreground. To be able to create depth, you would decrease the strength of the colors(and detail) in the bg(making the bg receed), then working more intense colors coming foreward, and adding stronger detail as you come forward.
No difference in an animal subject. The edges of the animal are the bg(furthest away from the viewer), and coming forward to the viewer are the midground and closest is foreground. So, if you choose your color tonal values(intensities) with this in mind, you animal subjects will have a more 3-D effect.
Highlights, should reflect to a lighter degree, what ever colors are in the bg.
Say your doing a horse, and you paint it under a brightly light(sunny) sky, you would want to use a bit of the lightest sky color(not white), in the highlights, as light reflects colors.
If part of the body of the horse, is shown near greenery, for example, then add just a hint of that greenery into the highlights in that area of the horse.
Another example of creating a more 3-D effect would be to think of a tree trunk, It is symetrical, not flat, so how would you achieve that? Again, think of the area of the trunk closest to the viewer as the foreground. It should hold your strongest values(and most detail), the midground,(area going back away from viewer), slightly lighter, then the edges(background) are the lightest. This gives the tree trunk a rounded appearance. The same prinicples apply when painting anything, animals included.
Shadows and highlights are as important as anything in a painting, probably(IMHO) more so. Shadows and highlights help for createing form.
It was when I finally realized these things, that my subject animals started taking on a different, more realistic look. And believe me, I still am working on that with each painting.
I think your paintings are well done as they are, but if you want to explore a different style(more realistic), then try the tips I've mentioned, (and practice, practice, practice), might help you, they did me. And BTW, it matters not what medium, whether it's pencil, pastel, or acrylics or oils, principal is the same. Utilizing these principals in a medium comes down to technique, which is something every artist differs on.
I hope this helps you in some small way, as I very well know how it felt before I got a handle on how to make my animals look more realistic.
And please understand, I'm no expert, I'm still learning too! I hope I never stop improving, as I struggle to try to improve with each work I produce. Sometimes I fail, but that doesn't keep me from trying even harder the next time:)
Best to you!

03-17-2012, 03:35 PM
Thank you for all the nice and helpful responses! It looks like my biggest problems are:
mixing colors and trying to use the correct shade and tint

CoolArtiste, what you meant by using "full-range"shading?
Online art, I know what you mean by art can look more real than a photo but for the beginning I would be happy to achieve it looking at least as good as a photo (whether it`s done from reference photo or my head).
kasunart, what you mean by " don`t stylize so much"?

With the back ground, I am scared doing back ground (every time) because I am not good at landscape, people or other things, I am really having hard times with it, and even when I try people (rider) it "always" ends up looking like 2 artists combined their skills in 1 artwork and 1 of them (rider) had no skills. But I will try the softer back ground as GailT suggested. By softer back ground you meant not so fresh bright color, correct GailT?

I have never taken an art class, simply can`t afford it as many other things.
By the way , what are values? I read it so often and I have no clue what it is (in art).
Barb`s Art, thank you very much for the exhausting reply,I will try to follow all the advice you gave me.
Everyone, if anything else comes to your mind that could help me, please share it. I am greatful for all the help.

03-18-2012, 01:19 AM
One thing I notice right away about your work, especially on the paintings, is you work hard to get the shapes of the muscles correct, but this should really be secondary to the lighting of the entire horse itself. To achieve a level of realism, consider the setting the horse is in. Where is the light coming from? Really study this in your references. Even if you are just painting the horse, without a scene around it, you should still be able to tell clearly what direction the ambient light is coming from. You have the shape of the horse down well, and just some tweaks to the lighting should make a big difference for you. This can even be done to old paintings with some quick glazes.

Also consider placing your horses in either a realistic or a muted background, as a background with too much color may distract from the horse you're trying to showcase. Sometimes just a blurred muted background looks great! (look up/do an image search for the word "bokeh")

As others have suggested, post the pieces you are working on individually and others will be able to help you.

Good luck and keep posting!

-- Linda

03-18-2012, 02:11 AM
For a softer background, I use more muted shades than for my subject, and aim for a "smudged" effect. Sometimes with acrylics I use a sea sponge or a sponge roller to blend 3 or 4 colours together. Not to everyone's taste, but my personal preference. Gail