A background painting tip that saved me tons of time.

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Managing the amount of details was always a difficult topic for me; especially when it comes to manage them in my backgrounds. I naturally tends to spend too much time on them, polishing corner after corner of my artworks. But over the time I found a way out of necessity and guessing; a couple of rules that allows me to details only 30% while painting almost flat the other part. This video tries to put words on this technique and show how I use it. I had the idea of this video after browsing old artworks, that's why I wanted to make also a "15 years ago" moment in the video and show you how it changed. I hope you learned something and you'll like this very short format, not about Krita for once, but about a painting tip.




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License: CC BY
David Revoy, www.davidrevoy.com, .
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15 comments

link Oel   - Reply

Hi, are Pepper and Carrot stealing the dragon? (I wish not, XD). Did you now were to find those skeches in light brow, that show Pepper body (i think it was pepper body). I searching for them a lot because i really like it but i only found two light brown background skeches and none show feinine body.

link xwst   - Reply

If it's monochrome like you seem to be remembering, it may have been ink or charcoal (?): https://peppercarrot.com/en/artworks/sketchbook.html

Not sure what you mean about body though, can't recall seeing any anatomy studies.

link David REVOY Author, - Reply

Hey Oel; no idea about the sketch you describe. If you can't find it on Xwst's links (thanks for replying!), then it is probably not existing. Maybe the tag 'sketches' on my blog? maybe in a making of?
Maybe it wasn't my art but Pepper from a fan-art? the gallery is in "Contribute" on Pepper&Carrot website.

link Oel   - Reply

Thank both xwst and David REVOY, i couldn't find it, but thanks anyway.

link Laila   - Reply

There are a lot of sketches here: https://www.peppercarrot.com/en/artworks/sketchbook.html

Perhaps you mean one of these: https://www.peppercarrot.com/en/viewer/sketchbook__2019-09-18_sketches-collection_by-David-Revoy.html, https://www.peppercarrot.com/en/viewer/sketchbook__2019-06-19_pepper-sketch_by-David-Revoy.html, https://www.peppercarrot.com/en/viewer/sketchbook__2019-06-24_sketch-of-pepper_by-David-Revoy.html, https://www.peppercarrot.com/en/viewer/sketchbook__2018-11-28_Pepper-reading-long-documentation_by-David-Revoy.html, https://www.peppercarrot.com/en/viewer/sketchbook__2018-05-01_preparatory-sketches-for-episode-25_by-David-Revoy.html or https://www.peppercarrot.com/en/viewer/sketchbook__2015-05-04_sketches-for-episode-7_by-David-Revoy.html?

Many sketches were deleted, so perhaps the one you are seeking is lost...

link Châu   - Reply

For game art (I use Inkscape vector art), I cheat by draw 3-5 different version for background objects like plants and rocks, etc. then copy/paste and change size and (x;y) position, angle, mix together. Also recycle vector art from between project. Draw vector art is slow but after finish, very fast and easy change shape and color for make new version.

link David REVOY Author, - Reply

Oh yes, vector and Inkscape approach can be very centered around object, library and copy-paste. I remember the background in your game. Very polished and good balance of details and simplifications.

link Minku   - Reply

Actually, I really dislike how the grass looks on the left side especially of that picture where Carrot and those other cats are building that bridge - flat, empty and horribly plastic-like. Whereas I really like especially those areas of the waterfall-and-fluffy-bushes-with-spaceship picture from the fifteen years ago section which you put a red square around. The idea is nevertheless an interesting one, I suppose, but easy to overdo past the point of reason.

link arlo   - Reply

> I really like especially those areas

But I think the video is about 'letting go' of individual areas to help the composition of the image as a whole. I think I see what he means about the older fantasy works; https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/file:user-Deevad.png while very beautiful reminds me on some of the architecture's textures like using the sharpening tool in photo manipulation software, a little helps it look crisp but it's easy to overdo and make everything seem...gritty, sort of.

link David REVOY Author, - Reply

Hey Minku; you're comparison between this two precise sample of grass is unfair xD your grip is mainly stylistic. I get it, so a bit off topic for the general message of this video.

But, still, I can understand it's hard if you can't split the concept of merging/simplifying area and style. Just understand both illustration in question are not about a botanical depiction of how the grass is. The fact the grass attract the eyes on the illustration 15 years ago, is a failure: the illustration is supposed to be about a sci-fi ship flying quickly over a sci-fi far away alien planet. But I started to detail the alien planet, so much that now the picture is static because the eyes takes too long to browse it, and ship looks totally static.

If I had to simplify this herbs; I would use wild brush stroke that produce random texture and noise (not flat area, like in a cartoon illustration). It would produce the same ambiant, and you would feel even more the grass, probably. Less static, more organic. An artist who manage this very well is https://www.artstation.com/liuqing ; you can also check Craig Mullins and the way he simplifies on http://www.goodbrush.com/ . This way, you'll see you can still adopt a realistic and detailed style while following the type of tip I show in the video.

Unfortunately, making Creative Commons attribution content video means I'm limited to show only compatible license artworks as example. That's why I pick only mine in the video and not the art I show you here on the link.

link Heinrich   - Reply

Wow! Thank you David, this was a revelation for me as a viewer!

I would occasionally notice this technique in works from the period of old masters, but never really connected the dots and realize that it is my own perception and imagination that would fill in the details.

That said, I do like the minuscule details in the portrait of the female elf in minute 2:42, because I can discover new details about her beauty that go beyond my imagination. It's a bit like enjoying a beautiful view during a hiking trip, where I can sit in front of the view for hours and discover and admire new details (rocks, trees, leaves, birds, …).

link David REVOY Author, - Reply

Thank you Heinrich! Yes, maybe for foreground element, like a portrait; thin details everywhere can really helps at freezing time and let viewer explore detail about personnality. I think what I really disliked about this grid shaded texture on her clothes was the bad management of sharpness; and the repetitive too perfect/digital nature of it.

link clarc   - Reply

Hello David

Thank you very much for you brief tutorial. IMHO one aspect you didn't mention with merging is: you add emotions to the image. the image no longer feels like a dumb photocopy it feels alive. The painter have to put something from himself into the picture. (That was my experience with your older drawings: They are great, but they feel a little bit cold on the other hand in the newer ones I can feel more the expression of the image.)

Things that bugs me all the time:
1.) where do I add the clues (in the darker/lighter parts? just random?)
2.) how much clues I have to add-

Things that I found out: If I add to much clues then the eye thinks that there is something missing (It probably expect the full pattern drawn)
On the other hand, if I draw too little clues then the pattern is not well recognizable.
And my gut feeling says that more pattern should added in the lighter, but not brighter parts.

How do you dealing with this issues?
I'm curious.

link David REVOY Author, - Reply

Hi Clarc, thank you very much.

Oh, the issue of the placement took me a lot of time too. My method right now is rellying a lot on something a bit abstract like "where I feel they'll ring better" and sorry to not have any logic and rational explanation about that. I'm still working on understanding the logic too. What I do to make the feeling stronger is I first speedpaint the texture with a large brush. If it helps, I zoom back a lot. While zooming back or using a large brush (or both) I rarely use a big difference of value to express the texture or the pattern. Then, when this is done; the result sort of guide me where some edges starts to appears and need to be underlined. I hope it can help.

link clarc   - Reply

Hello David

Thank you for sharing your experience. It helps me a lot. It seems that I'm on the right track: I already found out that outlining with a big brushes helps me to organize the pattern better.

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