View Full Version : Digital Painting Texture

02-15-2017, 06:20 PM
Hello, I'm new to this forum. I have an art project that I would like to realize but I don't have any clue where and how to start. I only have the idea and I don't know the correct terminology in some cases to express my query.

In this thread, I would like to ask some questions regarding this idea and I would appreciate it if someone could point me in the right direction. This is going to be long post so please bear with me. I am a music student and I'm also fascinated by the visual arts. Recently I have been looking at some digital artwork and have been captivated by the aesthetic of the medium. Especially on the aspect of texture. Look at the the pictures and videos below. Whether it represents three dimensional space or it's completely 2D, the absense of physical brushstrokes, pencil or other drawing material creates a really clean, smooth surface, for a lack of a better term. The colors seem almost always to me way more vibrant and bright in comparison to traditional canvas painting.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77SyGKrukRU (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77SyGKrukRU)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fD1ylX0TkY (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fD1ylX0TkY)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ld9KlMZ63IE (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ld9KlMZ63IE)









I post examples in various styles (flat drawing, semi-realistic, photorealistic, 3D). Most of them belong to fantasy settings but exhibit similar aesthetics.

This would be considered "un-traditional" I guess by the purists for not having texture at all, but I really like the look of it on the screen. So my question is first and foremost, how can this texture be replicated on a physical medium? I mean, most of it is probably designed and projected on computer screens and computer screens are made of pixels, plexiglass, liquid crystals and light that shines through them, all of which contribute to the result I describe above. Is there any physical material that has this kind of properties? Glass obviously comes to mind and I know that there are printers pecializing on glass surfaces.

My idea revolves around painting a series of portraits that look exactly like digital creations but on a real physical medium that could be hanged on a wall. I don't know how to approach all of this.

1. Should I paint the portrait in Photoshop and then have it printed on a surface?
2. Are there physical materials that could enable me to achieve this exact digital texture?

The first choice seems more reasonable but the thing that concerns me is that I plan to work on rather large "canvases", about 82 x 40 inches. In that case I don't know how a computer will be able to handle this kind of image file if it's to have at least 1200 DPI for high quality printing. A quick estimation I made results in about 99220 x 47250 pixels.

I am open to any suggestions regarding either digital or physical materials. My budget is quite limited at the moment, so the most economic but efficient way is preferred. No, I don't expect to create such a large project overnight, but I have to know every parameter there is to be able to gather the "plans" and the tools for the job.

Sorry for being a bit repetitive. I'm a complete beginner and I can't describe all the things I would like to ask in the way I would prefer because they require both artistic and technical advice. Everyone has to start from somewhere. My questions and research will be more specific once I understand how some things work.

02-16-2017, 01:47 AM
I am not sure where you are heading, but 2D Digital can be reproduced on many substrates, textured cotton canvas or synthetic materials like smooth vinyl. It would sound like you want to use a transparent vinyl printed with translucent paints or printed media and wrap it around or laminate it to the surface of a lightbox. Or you want to build a clear plastic model, paint them with translucent media and then put fiber optics in the interior of the plastic sculpture(model).

You are going to need digital software and the freeware Blender or Smith Micro Poser, not free, would be your first stop for creating models. Photoshop is not really a painting friendly software, more for proofing and printing. And, you will probably need the services of a commercial printshop. The only printers I know of that print in the size you are talking about are the advertising banners you see along the roadside. Have fun dude.

02-16-2017, 11:27 AM
Wait a minute Jan, don't you watch YouTube? Lot's of excellent artists using Photoshop. But that's expensive. I don't think you need a 3D program either.

You can paint with something as simple as Gimp. Here's a page listing some programs if you want to take a look.

1200 dpi sounds extreme to me. 300, or maybe 600 should be fine. The more technically minded can correct me if I'm wrong.

Or, if you're up for a challenge, looking at those images and thinking about what traditional medium could give you that look, I'm thinking airbrush.

02-16-2017, 01:00 PM
:o I should have said. "Photoshop is not for someone without experience as you have to make most of the brushes for any painting you do when using Photoshop."
My suggestion for a less expensive alternative for 2D painting would be ArtRage 5.01.

Something that came to mind about not having to have brush marks and brighter colors. You can adjust your brushes in a digital program so the brush strokes are flat and without texture. You can use an alternative palette like the brighter RGB rather than the CMYK. Create your own palette. Or you can adjust the images Hue and Saturation to alter the whole image.

I am done, thank you Michelle.

02-16-2017, 03:25 PM
The various digital painting programs are more a matter of personal preference. I would suggest you try a couple of different ones. You can do some research here: http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1401448 and have fun trying them.
I think digital is a better bet for you. You aren't spending money on paint and paper or canvas while you are practicing, you can resize easily. etc. As for printing, there are many different solutions, depending on what you are able to spend, how archival you need your print to be, etc.
Have fun with this process, and don't hesitate to come back to the forum to ask questions, and post your work over in Digital Showcase

02-17-2017, 04:50 AM
Thanks to all of you for your answers. A couple of new remarks then.

1. In either case, I will have to decide on which material the work will be presented on (painting directly on it or have the digital file printed on it). What do you think would be the best choice from the materials stated above? For physical, airbush seems to be an interesting technique although I have not used it before.

2. If I will go on the digital path, Photoshop is going to be my software of choice. A friend of mine (who is a graphic designer) uses it and he showed me some of the things that can be accomplished with it. Not to mention that you can add new features like brushes. The only obstacle that I find is the processing power that would be required to work on such a large file. My experience with other digital media has taught me that when you want excellent results, you go a step further in terms of digital quality. That is why I need this kind of resolution.

To put it simply once again, I want to paint (either digital or physical) something that replicates the look of the gallery below and then have it hung on the wall on a large "canvas".

02-17-2017, 09:04 AM
Airbrush is an unforgiving medium requiring skill, otherwise you can get spectacular results beyond the painted brush, no textures other than the interstices of the canvas underneath. Therefore, you want to choose a canvas that is made of fine linen weave, like a portrait linen. Portrait linen has a very smooth texture and is strong enough to handle the size you are talking about. It is very expensive and can cost $300 per yard or more. You might also check into the lesser expensive synthetic canvas which is used for large works and is incredibly durable. Many print shops use this type of synthetic canvas for very large canvases, and it usually has a smoother texture for printing.

If you go the Photoshop route you will encounter a host of problems, there are some solutions to these problems you may find on the Internet by search and query. One is that Photoshop and many other printing programs can only handle a file size no larger than 2GB. Photoshop CS6 64 bit can create a file of 30,000 by 30,000 pixels maximum size before it gives out. It would require a computer that would cost on average $700 to 1000. A 48 inch wide printer could print your 82 in by 40 inch canvas. However, remember most printers can barely handle a 2 GB file size. That means that you would have to lower your resolution, probably, to get the printer to output the file. You may be surprised to know that many print shops print very high quality at a resolution of 300 dpi. Magazine quality is usually around 160 ppi. That is less than 200 dpi.

The difference between 300 dpi and 1200 dpi is that when your printer prints it will add more lines of ink the higher the resolution, but that does not mean that the picture sharpness will improve, especially beyond 600 dpi. It can simply mean that your ink will have a denser layer but not a sharper image. Hope that helps.

02-17-2017, 11:18 AM
I see what you meant now Jan. I really thought you meant that it's not good for painting. When I watch those videos on YouTube, I get a case of Photohop envy. :D

Knowing someone who uses Photoshop would help a lot though.

02-17-2017, 07:13 PM
Michelle; My true confession; I watch other painterly artists like Michael James Smith, Inman, and so on. https://www.youtube.com/user/MichaelJamesSmithArt

Tips for the Photoshop beginner; Know the program and all of its tool capabilities. If you need a particular tool function and do not know what the program has to offer you may be severely hampered. Good drawing skills, understand the value of tonal contrast. Most importantly how to create your own brushes and the style of brushes that will work best for your genre. There are tons of brushes on the Internet offered by digital artists and designers. Create your own palette before you begin to paint. You need quick access to your palette, so, create a canvas with one side 1 inch longer than the painting and then store strips of colors you want to paint with for quick access. You can crop the color chart later. My CS5 does not have blenders, so I use the opacity setting of the brush and the blur tool as blending agents, a lot. Don't try to take on the 255 colors of the PS palette, use an analogous palette of a dozen colors or less until you get the hang of it. The analogous color scheme will also keep your tonal values close. Have Fun!

02-19-2017, 06:56 PM
I read these posts very carefully. Thank you for taking the time to answer.

I'm pretty sure Photoshop has a limit of about 300,000 x 300,000 pixels or at least according to this page by Adobe: https://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop/using/image-size-resolution.html

I'm also planning to upgrade my computer in the near future. How could I work on such a large image? A suggestion I read revolves around cropping the image with pixel precision and then working individually with each smaller tile and finally join all the tiles together. It would take a lot of time but it would be more manageable, wouldn't it?

As for the high DPI, it is known that for digital media to have excellent quality, you exceed the limit of what is considered to be the ideal by far, in order to be near the "best". Any downscaling to more reasonable numbers can be performed afterwards but you can't improve the quality if it isn't already there. And since this is to be considered "artwork" and not just a random graphic design, I would like it to have the highest quality possible.

02-19-2017, 09:06 PM
It is true that Photoshop CS6 can open files as large as 300,000 by 300,000 pixels which is approximately 252 Gigabytes. In order to accomplish this task the Windows Registry must be hacked and a scratch disk created 25% larger than the required scratch disk of that file size. There are other complications.
The problem is this, in order for Photoshop to remain compatible with order files and other applications, such as printers and other viewing software Photoshop places a 30,000 by 30,000 pixel limit on a file. You can easily confirm this by trying to create a new file in Photoshop and entering 300,000 by 300,000 pixel in the dialog box. Photoshop will not create the file. However, my CS5 will open an image as large as 30,000 by 30,000 by 9999.999 dpi.
Currently there are several print companies that have printers that can print those large files. I only know of one, Epson who has made changes or can make changes to a printer to accomplish printing such a large file other than a print shop. Yes Photoshop can tile print many sections of a very large image, wall size or better, when using 30,000 by 30,000 pixels.

02-23-2017, 06:42 PM
Sorry for the late reply. I have been busy.

Could you give some details on how would someone work with Photoshop in this way? Even in a smaller scale like 10,000 x 10,000 pixels. What hardware would this workflow require? Do you have to use a special monitor for accurate color reproduction?

02-23-2017, 09:23 PM
Your request is a rather lengthy and technical one, and so I will summarize, primarily;
Your Printer Brand and its capabilities, number of inks, RGB versus CMYK, width and length of print, maximum print material thickness, maximum dpi or ppi the printer can handle. Are the inks that your printer use pigment or dye based, how many inks are their 6 to 16, etc. Are the inks permanent or not, can your inks print on the material you want to use as the substrate? (The number of inks is a concern for those who need to print very detailed color correct and or permanent images.) Will the substrate (printed image) be subject to indoor conditions, outdoor conditions, or museum conditions? Will the substrate be subject to direct sunlight, moisture, or other harsh conditions?
Otherwise should you have the images printed for you at a PrintShop, can you give them the required files in the required format they are capable of printing? Not all print shops have the same requirements. You will have to know what the print shop can print before you begin to create your image files, or you may find yourself doing a lot of extra work.
An Intel I5 newest generation processor with 8 to 12 gigs of memory and a minimum of 1 to 2 terabytes hard drive should be sufficient to print 30,000 by 30,000 by 1200 dpi. NO SSD.
Monitors are a personal preference, they should have all the internal adjustments for calibration, desired refresh rates, and resolution you want to print. (This is an annoying subject to resolve for the consumer.) You can use a Spyder to adjust for a monitors color calibration. At minimum a 24 inch monitor would be helpful.

How to create an image in Photoshop.

How to print multiple page image in Photoshop.

You will find many YouTube videos on these subjects using Photoshop. Your subject is far more complex than I have indicated.

02-25-2017, 06:55 PM
I will contact a couple of local print shops and ask how would they approach something like this. Thanks again for all the information.

03-02-2017, 06:28 PM
A little update on the thread.

I talked to the guy at the print shop and we concluded that such and idea is just impractical unless very expensive equipment is involded.

However, he suggested another option. He told me that I could paint the artwork on a physical canvas, then have it professionally photographed or scanned and then process the image in Photoshop as if it would have been a digital photograph. After applying all the effects or corrections that would be necessary, the image could be printed back at the desired surface.

This way, the drawing process seems much more reasonable than using the computer at the resolutions mentioned in the previous posts.

In that case, what do you think would be the best material to draw on (paper, vinyl etc.) and what paints should I use (acrylics, markers etc.)? All of that while retaining the flat texture of digital of course.

03-03-2017, 12:22 AM
Art Reproductions and Giclee Prints are common and you can research this subject online to find out more.

You are probably aware, typically, Manga is ink lined, solid color filled, and shadows added for depth. Beyond that is the high end professional, the almost 3D look of portraiture.

You could save money using the technique the print shop suggested. However, be sure that you can find a Photo Shop that can scan or photograph such a large work of art before you proceed. (You suggested 80 by 40 inches.) Have you worked out the exchange of size versus resolutions between mediums and how that will affect each? Did the Print Shop give you the parameters for these exchanges?

There are Art Stores that will build custom canvases with heavy duty support stretchers for that size. Ask them to see samples of canvas so you can decide how smooth a texture you want. The canvas or paper you use should be suited to the paint and mediums you want to use to paint with whether the canvas or paper is natural or synthetic. I have never used vinyl and so have no recommendations for this substrate. Watercolor paper does come in large sheet sizes called Elephant in sheets 40 to 60 inches. Watercolor paper should be double sized for strength. Instead, you could purchase rolls of canvas or watercolor papers which come in larger sizes. Watercolor paper rolls are very stiff and difficult to work with and crease or break with too much pressure. 140 lb or 300 lb paper would be preferable for such a large size work of art. Typically oils on canvas for rougher texture, acrylic on hot pressed watercolor paper for smoother textures. You should not use Oils on watercolor paper unless you gesso the watercolor paper first. Two to four smooth coats should suffice. I have never used markers. I use graphite H1 pencils to draw and sketch the idea on paper or canvas. I do not use the tip but the side of the lead as not to indent or leave troughs in the paper. I prefer oil on stretched canvas and acrylic on gessoed watercolor paper. I sometimes use none wax based colored pencils or watercolor pencils to draw my idea first before I paint over.

Heads up; The only way you can get the pure digital look is on the computer. Something else to remember, the monitor is backlit, and provides that wonderful glow behind digital Manga, you do not get on Canvas or Watercolor paper. The difference can be staggering and one must correct ones media to compensate for that lose of inner light.

03-03-2017, 09:10 PM
Late to the party I am, but just want to add my 2 cents. I have both Photoshop and ArtRage 4.5 And love them both for various reasons. With Photoshop, you can paint digitally, smoothly, and achieve near photograph images if that is what your looking for.

ArtRage is awesome to achieve that traditional "painting" look. The textures and tool qualities are all built-in and amazing. If you want a more traditional look, ArtRage is the way to go. You can achieve the same thing in Photoshop only with a lot of layering, textures, and actions.

Both manufacturers have incredible forums on their websites that might be able to answer just about any question you have. Good luck, and welcome.

03-05-2017, 11:47 AM
Late to the party I am, but just want to add my 2 cents. I have both Photoshop and ArtRage 4.5 And love them both for various reasons. With Photoshop, you can paint digitally, smoothly, and achieve near photograph images if that is what your looking for.

ArtRage is awesome to achieve that traditional "painting" look. The textures and tool qualities are all built-in and amazing. If you want a more traditional look, ArtRage is the way to go. You can achieve the same thing in Photoshop only with a lot of layering, textures, and actions.

Both manufacturers have incredible forums on their websites that might be able to answer just about any question you have. Good luck, and welcome.
Thanks. I actually like the non-traditional look and I have already settled for Photoshop, however it's not possible to paint at the dimensions I want with suffiecent detail, unless you have an incredibly powerful computer. That's why I will probably try the method I described a few posts before.

Have you worked out the exchange of size versus resolutions between mediums and how that will affect each?

Physical mediums can be scanned/sampled at resolutions far beyond what would be needed. By having my physical "master" on paper, for example, I could then have it scanned at any resolution and DPI that would be sensible for the final delivery medium.

The intermediate step would be trying to "fake" the digital look, perhaps by digitally sharpening the colors or making them look more glossy. This is the process for which I'm searching for more details.

Heads up; The only way you can get the pure digital look is on the computer. Something else to remember, the monitor is backlit, and provides that wonderful glow behind digital Manga, you do not get on Canvas or Watercolor paper. The difference can be staggering and one must correct ones media to compensate for that lose of inner light.

This company specializes in printing on glass. The results are close to what I have in mind.

I keep mentiong glass as a medium, because it is inherently glossy and is the closest I can think to the computer screen. I suspect it will be pricey to have such print made, but if all this process has to have a big cost, I would rather spend it on a good print like that.