Digital Painting: A Year in Review

Come Home Brother, Nov 2012

Come Home Brother, Nov 2012

In the summer of 2012 I bought a refurbished Wacom Intuos4 Small (I’m using a Medium now.) with some extra money I earned house sitting for my younger brother. I played around with it for a couple months before I made the conscious decision to devote serious time to learning to paint in Photoshop. Instead of easing into it, I dove head first, deciding I would paint a portrait of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki as a Christmas present for my daughter. I spent all of November and the first part of December learning as I went. There were a few times I thought I’d lost my mind but I finished it in time for Christmas and realized I’d opened a new door for my creativity.

There are so many things wrong with that first painting, Come Home Brother, but it’s not all bad. After wrapping it up and placing it under the tree, I wanted more. Kind of like Kirsten Dunst’s character Claudia in Interview with a Vampire when she has her first taste of blood, “I want some more.”

My second attempt, The Reluctant King, wasn’t perfect as either, but it’s still one of my favorites. I have a 16×20 print hanging in my studio.

Reluctant King, Jan 2013

Reluctant King, Jan 2013

I promise, this isn’t a Loki post! I’m not denying I have a bit of an obsession, because I do, but. . . Ā I do what I want! LOL To be honest, painting Loki was a perfect way to learn. I was painting something I loved and I didn’t have to worry about completely mucking it up as it wasn’t something I was going to market. It gave me freedom to experiment. Sometimes the experiments worked and other times they didn’t but it was all about learning. I was determined to improve. Failure was not an option.

Over the last year I’ve explored different painting techniques and experimented with a myriad of Photoshop brushes. In my early paintings it was common for me to use several different brushes for various aspects of a painting. Now I often only use one or two brushes for the bulk of a painting. I save special brushes for little details and sometimes I don’t use them at all. Glancing at the images above you might think the opposite is true. As the year went by my painting style/voice evolved. I like to think my paintings became more rich with detail. My journey also revealed that painting in Photoshop is not all that different than painting in oils or acrylics. The core concepts are the same.

So what’s the point of all of this? The paintings above are only a sample of what I created this year. I’ve painted nearly every day, I’ve read numerous tutorials/workshops, watched videos, studied other artists (both digital and traditional) and adapted my traditional painting skills into a digital medium. I may still have a lot to learn, but I wanted to show other artists, especially young artists, that with determination, passion, perseverance and maybe a little luck you will get to that place you want to be. It doesn’t happen overnight but it does happen. This is true whether you’re working in traditional or digital. I encourage you to take a look back through your sketchbook or portfolio. Find what you painted in December of 2012 and compare it to the last painting you completed. Better yet, go back 5 years and compare what you created then to now. If nothing’s changed then you aren’t creating often enough. You have the gift, but your skill can only improve if you practice, practice, practice.

I’m planning to take my art to the next level in 2014. I have so many things planned, many of which I can’t really discuss yet. You can stay in loop though by following my Facebook Page. I make announcements there and on Twitter before I get a chance to post to my own blog!

About Amanda Makepeace

Artist inspired by fantasy, nature and myth. Lover of poetry, books, and wine. I've called both sides of the Atlantic home. www.amandamakepeace.com
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4 Comments

  1. Your work is amazing. I wish I had your creative mind, your art skills, and the ability to put them both together so well. Can I wish for it for Christmas or click my heals together three times. Something tells me neither of those would work. Keep up the outstanding work.

  2. Great post, Amanda, I really enjoyed it. It summed up your journey with digital painting and that is good information for those of us just beginning to make the attempt with PhotoShop. So far I’m just altering my traditional illustrations that I’ve done with watercolors, but I can see that I’m just scratching the surface with PS and long to have the time to delve into it more. Hey, what do you mean that there was so much wrong with your first painting of Loki! I loved it, the artists at EBSQ were blown away by it, it is gorgeous! I see no mistakes, just a rich, deep, detailed gorgeous interesting portrait that any lover of portraits would want to own. And that any beginner at PS would be envious to have the knowledge to do. šŸ˜‰ I can’t wait to see what you do next. And I’m glad that I own two of your prints from this year. We love looking at Alien Graveyard and find something new in it all the time. I’ll be talkin’ to ya over at EBSQ, Annie

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