The middle part of the painting process
The hardest, and most time-consuming, part of the entire painting process is the middle part. It has no specific start or end, but I spend a great deal of time painting at this stage. I often make major and/or minor changes, and bring the whole painting closer to finish. In general, most paintings don't look good at this stage because they're incomplete. As a result, artists may sometimes feel like their painting is a wasted cause and are tempted to abandon their work. Now, however, is not the time for an artist to quit!
I am going for the final look of the dragons and the knight. I create a new layer when making changes to the characters because it allows me to experiment and easily correct my mistakes. When painting on a new layer, I make sure to click the Pickup Underlying Color button in the Layers panel so my brushstrokes blend smoothly with the canvas colors. If I don't do this, it can produce white artifacts at the edges of the painted brushstrokes. When the option is turned on, the small dropper icon is blue.
At this stage, I completed most of the painting with the Opaque Round brush (Oils category).
Painting the small dragons
Up until this point, I did not pay much attention to the smaller dragons. I need to add fire coming out of the left dragon's mouth. S'mores are warm after all. I added the fire for the humor of it, but it's an important design element. I also use it to add a light source and color focal point in the image.
I paint additional details to the cave and the larger dragon. I also darken the foreground cave rocks so they form a visual frame for the rest of the painting. When I'm done, I save an iteration of the image using File > Iterative Save.
Painting the large dragon
The larger dragon is looking rather boring so I decide that it needs some scales, or something on the large expanse of its stomach. I'm not completely sure what I want to do, so I create a new layer to complete all of the work. On different layers, I create several variations of scales and plates on the dragon's stomach. I choose the same default brushes that I used throughout the rest of the painting. I finally decide on the elements that I want to keep, which I captured in Figure14.
I think it adds interest and helps lead the eye around the composition.
I also added a subtle glow to the cave wall around the small dragons peeking out of their den. I did this on a new layer by applying a deep orange color by using the Digital Airbrush (Airbrushes category).I then proceeded to apply the Screen composite method from the Layers panel. This erased all of the unwanted areas that had overlapping color.
The flames coming out of the small dragon's mouth are too complex, so I repaint them into one larger, simple flame.
Adding texture to the painting
I am now finished with most of the middle painting process. Everything, from this point forward, is what I consider the finishing stage of the painting.
One of the most important skills a digital artist can master is the use of texture. Texture can be used to do things in digital painting that would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, with traditional media. The skillful use of texture can enhance the detailed areas of a painting with very little effort.
Painter 12 includes numerous tools and techniques to create and apply textures. The most common are papers and patterns. I use both directly and indirectly to add interesting patterns and details.
In this painting, I use textures to create a reptile-like skin texture, as well as to add subtle detailing to the cave. To add a nice reptile texture to the dragon skin, I use a custom paper texture that I created earlier from a photograph of an iguana. I did this by doing the following:
- I create two new layers by pressing Ctrl + Shift + N (Win) or Cmd + Shift + N (Mac). One layer is for the darker and recessed areas. The other layer is for the lighter bumpy areas. I use the same paper texture for both.
- From the Brush library, I choose the Variable Chalk brush (Chalk & Crayons category).
- I choose the Dropper tool from the toolbox, and then select a color from the lighter area of the dragon skin. I lighten its value just a touch in the color panel.
- I open the Papers panel by pressing Ctrl + 9 (Win) or Cmd + 9 (Mac). I then modify the paper texture as needed by adjusting the Paper scale slider.
- On one of the new layers, I paint the lighter, bumpy reptile skin wherever I feel it's appropriate. I don't worry about any texture that overlaps the edges of the dragon. I can easily erase this later.
- I choose the Dropper tool from the toolbox (or press the D shortcut key) and then select a color from the darker area of the dragon's skin. In the Color panel, I adjust the value so it is slightly darker.
- In the Papers panel, I click the Invert button to invert the paper texture.
- From the Brush library, I choose the Variable Chalk brush (Chalk & Crayons category) and paint the cracks in between the scales on a new layer.
- I selectively erase and adjust the opacity of both layers, so that the scales and crevices between them interact and produce the illusion of dragon skin.
I find that this is a very effective way of creating skin textures. With this technique, I can make it as subtle or as obvious as I want. It does, however, take practice to master this technique. Therefore, do not get discouraged if any initial attempts are unsuccessful. I captured the resulting dragon skin in Figure18.
I figured that, if someone lives in a cave, they're probably not going to have many opportunities to get clean. Therefore, I added an additional texture to the painting to give the whole thing a somewhat dirty look. I make sure to add a subtle texture effect so it doesn't appear overdone. I apply two different textures by doing the following:
- I create each texture by using traditional watercolor splattered onto a piece of paper. When the paper is dry, I scan it and overlay the texture on the image. I create and save these types of non-specific assets because they are very valuable. They have almost unlimited uses when creating digital art.
- I transform each texture layer so they cover the whole painting. I click and hold the Layer Adjuster tool in the toolbox to open the flyout, and then choose the Transform tool.
- In the Layers panel, I choose Multiply from the Composite Method list box. This creates a dark and very dense spotty look. It may be worth exploring other composite methods, depending on the color and value of the original textures.
- In the Layers panel, I lower the opacity of each texture layer by adjusting the Opacity slider. I find that the amount of opacity is a personal choice and should be set to whatever looks good. Some experimentation may be necessary. In this painting, one of the layers is set to 10% opacity and the second layer is set to 36% opacity.
- I carefully erase all areas where the texture overlaps the edges of shapes or interferes with lighter colors.
- When the resulting effect looks correct, I drop both layers onto the underlying painting by choosing Layers > Drop All.