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Digital Art Demonstration

Exploring techniques and tools used to make digital art and how it can enhance physical work.

Neal Von Flue

on 19 July 2015

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Transcript of Digital Art Demonstration

Digital Art Demonstration
-Neal Von Flue

Method 1: Physical to Digital
-Harry Potemkin

Method 2: Digital to Physical
-Sweeping up after the party

Method 3: Strictly Digital
-Digital art and Sketches
Process video -Ettin drawing

Method 4: Digital to Physical
to Digital again
QR Code paintings

Tools and Techniques

-Inspiration and influence
-Useful links

(After this presentation)
If time allows:
Digital painting demo
Q and A, etc.
His interests...
in digital art began with his first computer WAY back in the day. The exact year is cloudy, but it was a 486 and ran Windows 3.1 and he was AMAZINGLY excited to get it cause it was "top of the line" at the time.
Some of his first digital drawings
were done with Microsoft "Paint" using the mouse, and they generally included clowns for some reason.

Although he did scribble a scruffy dog balancing on a ball.
In Conclusion....
He's been doing digital and traditional artwork ever since for companies, individuals, publications, comics...
If you'll allow me to be boring for a minute,
in order to set the stage.....
...and now
Thanks, mom!
My assertion:
"there is a middle path."
"We can use new technologies like tools, to create engaging and satisfying work, by keeping 'good art' as our ultimate goal."
(What would a caveman have done with a paintbrush?)
"if we have respect for tradition and find a way for it to inform our modern art, we will be involved in the logical evolution of a universal 'human aesthetic' who's dialogue grows in complexity and which resonates with people across cultural, social and political lines. "
Method 1: Physical to digital
One of the easiest ways to immerse yourself in digital art is to begin adding digital processes to your physical work!
Harry Potemkin
With dialogue
With painted layer
Borders, texture, etc...
Digital Birds
(Click to zoom, and look in the corners for a step-by step of each work)
Method 2: Digital to Physical
it's not a one-way street, you can use digital art to make REAL art!
“‘Sweeping Up After The Party Is Over’ or; ‘The Last Thing Sancho Panza Will See Will Be The Greatest Human Achievement To Occur Right Before The Film Comes Out’”
-36x48, Oil, Acrylics and Digital Collage on Canvas
my first step was to take a photo of the backpack in question. At this early stage of the painting, I've only roughed-in the elements that I'm planning on including. The figure itself is also very rough. Photo reference is down the line, but I've resolved that the backpack is the most important part of the figure, so I'm starting there. This photo was taken with my phone, and not much care was taken for color, resolution etc. I'm only using it as reference for the items to be painted. So the goal is to just keep the camera straight.
Now we move to the computer. Here's a screencap of me working in my favorite digital program, Artrage. It's intuitive, got an attractive interface and is great at cloning traditional effects. Most of all, it's dirt cheap!

So I've painted myself a ship in a bottle, using separate reference materials...
I like the way it looks, so I bring it into Photoshop for proper placement. The most important step here is to measure the backpack on the physical painting and make sure that my digital image is the same size. This is a big deal as I want it to be the right size when I print it out. So I measured my back pack, and the area I want to work with is roughly 7" square. I line up the same reference points in my digital image, and size it to 7". Then I can resize, rotate, and line up my ship in a bottle. Voila, a quick way to ensure I print it out at roughly the proper size.
Now I can bring the image back into Artrage and continue to paint the other objects that I want to include.
There were a number of unresolved things I didn't like in the real-life version and I didn't want to be swayed by them while I worked digitally, so I painted each object on a blank background. I try to think of this as more of a painting with it's own merit. I do my best to forget about the end-result and work to make an interesting image.
Back in Photoshop now, for a final check, I print a draft and compare sizes. They look to be about the right size, so we're good to go! I also paint in a rough approximation of the colors behind the objects to make feathering them in a bit easier.
Now it's time to print the final draft. Things seem to line up fairly well, so it's time to cut them out and collage it all together!
I used Acrylic Matte Medium as the binder. I've also used Mod-Podge to great success, but the glossy stuff leaves a very slick surface, which makes repainting and blending a bit difficult.

You'll notice that I cut each element out individually and pasted them down. This gives me greater control over the exact placement and it also lets as much of the original painting show through as possible. I'm happy with the backpack and prosthetic leg, etc, and want to add these other elements with out disrupting the whole area, or running the risk of making the thing look like a pasted-in correction.
Now that each element is glued into it's right place, it's time to begin the process of feathering them into the original image, which requires lots of tracing the digital shapes. I try to blend these additions with the original colors, or to come up with a new, better color for the surrounding spaces.
I've used my reference images to paint in a figure I'm fairly happy with, and also blended the collage bits as much as possible. I then went over the entire area with some more Matte Medium. It fills in lots of hard edges that the collage would normally have, and also picks up a bit of the ink from the print out and blends it around, making for a softer, out of focus look, which I enjoy.
I painted in the other objects, the picture frame, bedroll and the detailing on the pack, and that's it! Here's the final piece again.
The Metapanel:
Digital to Physical cont.-
Benefits of digital layout work:
luminous color sense
easily edited/chopped up reassembled, etc...
color coded elements
impermanence and the ability to change things quickly makes you bold
Possible drawbacks:
It can be difficult to see the whole image
learning curve
No physical object
Method 3: Strictly Digital
Let's do it all with 1's and 0's!
Life Drawing, Sketches, etc.

Raster vs. Vector
Classic painters:
Craig Mullins
NC Wyeth
John Singer Sargent
Howard Pyle
John Singer Sargent
John Singer "the Man" Sargent
These are all strong influences
on Mullin's work
This type is an example of a vector image. it's drawn with "nodes" or coordinates that dictate it's shape and how it's displayed. You can scale with no loss in detail, which is a fancy way of saying that you can enlarge to ANY size and it doesn't get all pixelated.
This is a Raster image. it's absolutely great at showing
gradations, subtle values and color blending at it's intended size, but when you enlarge it gets very pixelated and rather ugly.
Life Drawings:
Tools and Techniques:
Software for image creation and editing
etc (Microsoft paint!)
Corel Painter

Other tools:
Graphics Tablet
A reference folder

Biggest benefit?
This drawing...
...is comprised of 10 layers. Each layer is editable. They can be moved, resized, have their opacity turned up or down, etc. Each layer can be changed in it's relationship to the layers above and below it, and it's mode can be modified (Multiply, Dodge, Burn, Screen, etc...)
Infinite Possibilities for the imaginative mind.
Inspiration and exercise:
This video....
...is an example of digital illustration from the initial sketch to final product.

You can see the ease with which you can adjust,rotate and resize picture elements at any stage in order to reinforce your drawing.

There are benefits afforded in digital work to those who like to experiment a bit while in-process, in order to find the strongest results.

(Total working time is about 2 1/2 hours, and the final print output of this illustration is roughly the size of a playing card.)
What the heck is a reference folder?
A long time ago....
I started collecting images that could be used to add
texture and interest to the pictures that I was making.
These kinds of images are sometimes called "grunge" and are used to add textures to photos and illustrations. Often times it's meant to mimic analog or traditional effects.
Sometimes I'll shuffle through them looking for a texture or color, shape or movement, to add interest to the image I'm working on.
(63 steps in total, 60 steps to go...)
3:10 to Yuma (remake)
Across the Universe
Without a doubt
Treasure of Sierra Madre
The Bourne Identity
These movie stills are great
exercises in composition color and value.
This illustration was done
for the excellent online collaborative
novel "The Mongoliad".
Here’s a look at the process.

The character came along with a
brief description, and a historical
reference image. But there was
an emphasis in the description on
his beard as a gnarled, tangled, braided mess, so to speak.
I decided to make the whole piece
similar to the source material,
using the format of those ancient
portraits. I used myself as a
reference image for the pose,
and pulled it into Photoshop
to begin the sketch.
I used the reference photo for structure, and began to modify it to fit our character.

(My wife now knows what I will look like when I’m 60.)
Here’s the sketch done, which got sent off for approval.
Once I received notes and modified it accordingly, I printed it out and used a light box to do the final drawing, including the Latin text. I could have done the text in Photoshop, but I wanted to achieve a hand-made look. Once the pencil drawing is done, it gets scanned in and brought into Artrage for the painting.
Rolling in the background, with an earthy palette.
Most of the painting is done in Artrage, and all on one layer. I prefer the more realistic and painterly look of working all in one layer in a single go,but every once in a while I bounce it back to Photoshop for some detailing, color changing, dodging, burning, etc…
Most of the painting is done here, time to move to the text:
The text was painted the same as the portrait, under the pencil lines to keep the edges intact:
And now the beard! I found some free “hair” brushes for Photoshop and set about using them, in various tones of gray and white using different layers and opacities. There are even a few layers set to “screen” or “Color Burn” to add depth.
In addition to the hair brushes, I used a “pencil” brush with blue and orange to draw stray hairs that would be reflecting the side lighting on the face. I also added stray hairs to the eyebrows and hair.

(I can’t imagine that they were into much man-scaping in the 12th century.)
Programs used:
Artrage 4
Photoshop CS3
Manga Studio EX 4
Digital to Physical to Digital again.
AKA "The tennis game"
A little background:
Digital work allows for the wonderful benefit
of easily "stepping back" to review your work,
making attention to details across many pages
of work possible.
Presentation outline
A quick primer on:
Traditionalist view:
The current view:
"New technologies tend to have a deteriorating effect on classic art techniques. Computers make it too easy to make art. Programs like Photoshop make every one an 'artist.' This waters down our appreciation for real talent. Being an artist requires mastery of a medium, time and dedication. Talent is more than a computer."
"Democracy has won out in art. The barriers between an artist and everyone else have been lowered (as well as the price tag), and these new tools have allowed us all to be 'talented' to a certain extent. I don't need the same level of study and practice that artists usually are accustomed to in order to be good. I can bypass education and labor in order to get closer to my creative outlet."
While digital artwork is becoming the standard for work in professional fields, many fine artists don't use these tools.
Any artist who begins with a computer will, if he continues to be interested in art making, find his/her way back to artistic tradition, skill and discipline, all with an eye toward making their work even better.
If you are interested in
learning more:
Lines and colors (linesandcolors.com)Showcase blog for traditional and digital art, production work and more.
CtrlPaint (http://ctrlpaint.com/) over 200 free videos on the basics of digital painting with a strong traditional foundation.

Goodbrush (http://goodbrush.com/) Website for the artist Craig Mullins.
Gurney Journey (http://gurneyjourney.blogspot.com/) Dan Gurney's blog with many resources for artists of all types.

Adobe (http://www.adobe.com/) makers of Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.
Artrage (http://www.artrage.com/) powerful and inexpensive tool for making digital art

Von Flue Studio (http://www.vonfluestudio.com/) my own site.
Thank you for your time!

With a laptop and a tablet, or an iPad and stylus, you can be a mobile digital artist, drawing and painting from life!
Your laptop can become your sketchbook.
It can allow you to work quickly and gesturally.
and it provides amazing control over composition, as resizing and moving elements is a snap, and no experiment can ruin a piece!
Inspiration and influence:
There are many artists now working digitally
from start to finish, in many areas of art production.

But just because they work with
new tools doesn't mean that
they've shunned the virtues of
traditional art.

Compare Craig Mullins digital work
to some great masters of art and illustration.
Digital art falls in to 2 main creation "types".
These are roughly analogous to digital art "mediums"
(oils acrylics, etc)

One (Raster) tries it's best to emulate and improve
the realistic conditions of art as we know it.

And the other (Vector) is native to a digital environment, relying on the advantages of computation to create it.

Each has it's own distinct advantages and disadvantages...
and now....
Neal has been a professional artist and educator for over 14 years. He owns and operates the Von Flue Studio with his wife Dawn. They specialize in Murals, Fine Art, Illustration, Design, and more.

He has completed book covers, board games, comic books, album covers, fine art and much more.
...and for himself, because it's fun.
Work with QR Codes
"Topsy" oil and stain on wood 30"x30"
My first QR code painting was for a Nikolai Tesla-themed show. The code of this painting points to a internet video of the famous Topsy the elephant being publicly electrocuted by Thomas Edison in order to discredit Tesla's competing method of electricity conveyance.
The goal of the work is: The viewer uses an Edison-reliant phone to access information imbedded in an image made out of natural materials to send Edison-based electrical impulses (all the way out to satellites in space and back) in order to view a 110 year-old (originally analog) video of a murdered elephant that was instrumental in creating the rallying campaign that ended the war for electrical supremacy and created the basis of all digital technology.
"Always and Never are the Enemies of Love" Mixed media on wood 30"x30"
After realizing how versatile these codes are, the next piece was about obscuring part of the code information with an image.

This code points to a 3-minute audio file that expounds on QR codes as well as our natural anxieties and existential fear of oblivion while being alone in a hot air balloon (light stuff, I know!)
-Creating the code
-Adhering it to panel
-Painting it in metallics and adding patina to surface
-Taping off part of the code for painting
-My son peeling off the tape
One of the larger goals of this series of paintings is to find ways in which natural media can interact with and mimic digital media.
It's important that each piece is made by hand with as little interference with technology on the final surface as possible.
QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response Code) is the trademark for a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional barcode) first designed for the automotive industry in Japan. A QR code uses four standardized encoding modes to efficiently store data.

The QR Code system has become popular outside the automotive industry due to its fast readability and greater storage capacity compared to standard UPC barcodes. Applications include product tracking, item identification, time tracking, document management, general marketing, and much more.

A QR code consists of colored modules (square dots) arranged in a square grid on a background, which can be read by an imaging device (such as a camera) and processed using Reed–Solomon error correction until the image can be appropriately interpreted; data is then extracted from patterns present in both horizontal and vertical components of the image.

QR codes can contain many types of information including, text, weblinks, v-cards, and more.
What are they?
"The Abhaya Hasta Hand"
collage and oil on wood - 30" x 40"
(partially co-opted from wikipedia)
This code points to a web page that offers up a multiple-path narrative.

By reading the "choose your own adventure" style story, the viewer can "walk" through the environment of the painting, exploring the space and looking at hidden items.

This is the first of 4 planned paintings that will eventually connect together via their codes and the viewer will be able to move from one to the other.
Though you must be careful to not overdo it, one of the biggest advantages to digital art is wide array of tools that are at your disposal but the risk of over-using them all is constant, (This is where a traditional background and discipline can inform your digital work.)
I also use them for inspiration, or when a picture becomes flat and needs some kind of "boost".
Full transcript